Until February 2002, I worked at Jo Ann Kane Music Service (a Los Angeles music copying service). Several years ago we started a tradition of tearing off pages of a daily calendar, counting down to July 1st (the day which we receive a special payment for the movie music which we prepare). Each year the calendar got more and more refined and eventually it came to include not only the number of days until July 1st, but also the equivalent numbers of hours, minutes, and seconds. The daily ceremony of tearing off a page began to include my reading these numbers.
This calendar was prepared by a database on a Macintosh computer, so in 1997 I got the bright idea to have the computer read the numbers (using the Mac's built-in speech capabilities). The system software includes a variety of voices, including Fred, Ralph, Agnes, and a host of others. As the days went by, the computer announcements became more and more complex. I studied the Mac's speech system and learned how to put inflections, emphasis, and pitch variation into the voices. Each day became a bigger production than the last. On "Cinco de Mayo", we had an announcement with a Spanish accent. We had guest appearances by Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, Mister Rogers, Sergeant Joe Friday, and Miss Piggy. There was special recognition of "Syttende Mai" (Norwegian Constitution Day) with a Scandinavian accent. We had George Carlin reciting the seven words you can't say on TV (spoken by the computer so swiftly that no one could be offended). Homer Simpson even appeared and gave a big "DOH" for each day left before July 1st (22 in all).
This description doesn't really do it justice, for it was one of those things where "you had to be there". I even managed to get the computer voice (Fred was the most popular) to perform "Singing in the Rain". Of course, there were also a number of private jokes specific to the members of our crew at Jo Ann Kane Music. Then there was Cheech and Chong, and one day the computer voice had a cold and kept sneezing. One day the voice sang the Alfred Hitchcock theme song. As July 1st got closer and closer, I had to keep coming up with increasingly complex and more interesting ideas so as not to let down my audience (approximately 20 people).
Anyway, for the grand finale I decided to write a whole production number (using synthesizers and multitrack audio recording). The whole thing was mixed down into a Mac sound file so that it could be played from the computer just like the daily announcements to which everyone had become accustomed. If you've listened to the song, you know that it starts with Fred's voice beginning his announcement in the usual way (note that it was done in 1997 -- that's why July 1st was on a Tuesday). But then it stretches out into an entire production number. Toward the end of the song, you'll once again hear Fred announcing that there are "zero days, zero hours, zero minutes, and zero seconds left until July 1st". Notice that he pronounces it "my-noots" instead of minutes. This is one of the idiosyncrasies of the speech synthesizer and became a running gag throughout the countdown period. The song ends with a tribute to Aime Vereecke. Aime is retired now, but was a legendary proofreader at the office. One of his claims to fame was his daily call, "lunchtime, honeys". We miss you, Aime.
Well, thanks for listening to my story. At least you now have a clue as to what the song is about and I hope you enjoy it along with the countdown page (and of course your special payment check).
Return to the July 1st Countdown Page