Back when I was in school, radio was just one channel playing safe music from the Fifties. And I was growing up in the Seventies. The monopoly channel's sole aim was to be a "nation-builder", to weed out what was considered by politicians as "yellow culture"; read rock 'n' roll. But today, Bruce Springsteen's claim rings true. There are "57" channels on the i$land but nothin' "on".

To listen to a station that’s "on", you have to find it on the net. One excellent station is the satellite channel XM. Guess what? Satellite transmissions are prohibited on the i$land. Only embassies, media companies and some other big businesses who need timely information are permitted to install satellite dishes. So there’s no easy access to XM.

One particular show that’s "on" has been Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour. Fans and critics alike have been mesmerized by the 65-year-old veteran’s glib talk, esoteric song choices and wealth of information.

Dylan’s radio show is 60-min long and each week he presents a different theme. The series started in May on XM and has so far seen 14 episodes. Themes include weather, drink, mother’s day, coffee and the latest on the devil. One critic remarked that the shows are "a look back to when DJs had a lot of knowledge, often firsthand, about the artists they were playing. Before playing their songs they would riff about their music, their lyrics or their lives."

In episode 13, Rich Man, Poor Man, Dylan introduced the show like this: "This week, we’re gonna take a look at two different kinds of people: Them that’s got, and them that needs. We’re gonna talk about a dichotomy between the rich man and the poor man." And he remarks that one thing the rich man hasn’t got is "poverty".

One critic remarked that the shows
are "a look back to when DJs had a
lot of knowledge, often firsthand,
about the artists they were playing.
Before playing their songs they
would riff about their music,
their lyrics or their lives."

The show starts off with Bob Miller's 1932 hit, The Rich Man And The Poor Man, about there being one law (and one set of lawyers) for the rich, and one for the poor. Despite all the advantages a rich man has, in one final thing they both have in common:

The rich man when he kicks off, has a casket made of gold,
While the poor man has a wooden box and his grave looks mighty cold
The rich man gets a sermon, but here’s one thing that’s sure,
When the rich man takes that long last ride he’s as much dead as the poor.

The insight he offers of Miller is one seldom heard. That Miller also wrote There’s a Star-Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere but was greatly disturbed by its huge success. After the song sold in excess of three million song sheets, Miller insisted that his music must only be performed by "a true son of the soil," rather than celebrity big-time bandleaders. He threatened to sue anyone who covered the song without permission.

The next song played is Rags To Riches which relatively younger fans might recall was a minor single for Elvis Presley but was a big hit for Tony Bennett in the Fifties. Dylan said this after playing that record:

I heard a story once about Tony. They wanted him to sing the national anthem at the nineteen and sixty-one Preakness. He didn’t want to. He said, ‘I don’t know. Bombs burstin’ in air are just not my thing.’ Way to go, Tony.

It’s a delight to hear Dylan take a poke at today’s currency for patriotism.

The playlist digs deep and exposes such long forgotten artists including Hurricane Harry, The Mississippi Sheiks, Cannon’s Jug Stompers, The Donays and Shorty Long. Right now you can subscribe to XM radio for a three-day free trial at their website But unless they start broadcasting over here and the i$land allows for satellite reception, you’ll have to search the net to find a kind soul to share these shows.

Bob’s last words at show’s close: "Here’s a tip on how you can save your money. Use somebody else’s." Ho, ho, ho… ‘nuff said.

Click on the panels to download artwork.

Click on the tracks to listen to Episode 13, "Rich Man, Poor Man."

These tracks are no longer available for download.

Track 01 Intro (1.1MB)
Track 02 Bob Miller - The Rich Man and the Poor Man (5.8MB)
Track 03 Tony Bennett - Rags To Riches (5.0MB)
Track 04 Little Richard - Get Rich Quick (4.7MB)
Track 05 The Farmer Boys - Charming Betsy (5.2MB)
Track 06 Bing Crosby - Brother Can You Spare A Dime? (6.6MB)
Track 07 Tom Waits - On The Nickel (10.1MB)
Track 08 Fiddlin’ John Carson with Moonshine Kate - Taxes On The Farmer Feeds Them All (4.6MB)
Track 09 Louis Armstrong - Hobo You Can’t Ride This Train (5.5MB)
Track 10 Woody Guthrie - Do Re Mi (4.6MB)
Track 11 Lil Millet and His Creoles - Rich Woman (4.9MB)
Track 12 Johnny Rivers - Poor Side Of Town (6.6MB)
Track 13 Freddie King - The Welfare Turns Its Back On You (4.1MB)
Track 14 Louis Jordan - If You’re So Smart, How Come You Ain’t Rich? (4.9MB)
Track 15 Emmylou Harris - Hobo’s Lullaby (4.3MB)
Track 16 Closing Theme (2.1MB)

Bob Miller

There's just two kind of people, the sinner and the saint;
There's one that gets and always got while the other poor one ain't.
Oh, the rich man drives his Lincoln past the red light with a grin,
And the poor man follows right behind in his little hunk of tin.
There's a motorcycle copper following upon their trail;
Oh, the rich man tears his ticket, but the poor man goes to jail.

Oh, the rich man takes the high road anywhere that he may go,
But when the poor man's travelin' he must always take the low.
So if you're rich you'll travel snug as peas are in the pod;
Oh, the rich man rides a cushion and the poor man rides the rods.

Oh, the rich man when he's ailing stays at home and calls the doc,
But the poor man has to go to work, be in time to punch a clock.
The rich man takes his medicine, has his doctors and his nurse;
So the rich man he gets better but the poor man he gets worse!

Oh, the rich man steals a million from the bank that he controls,
While the poor man steals a loaf of bread or a penny's worth of rolls.
They take them to the courthouse, one is laughing, one's in tears;
Oh, the rich man gets an apology while the poor man gets ten years!

Oh, the rich man gets a lawyer and the lawyer pleads his case,
While the poor man asks for sympathy but of that there is no trace.
So if you're rich don't worry but the poor must give up hope;
Oh, the rich man gets acquitted while the poor man gets the rope!

Oh, the rich man when he kicks off has a casket made of gold,
While the poor man has a wooden box and his grave looks mighty cold.
The rich man gets a sermon but here's one thing that's sure,
When the rich man takes that last long ride he's as much dead as the poor!

This song was written in 1932.

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