Conway Twitty and The Residents

In the comments after yesterday's DEVO/Jermaine Jackson post, BAT21 pointed to this delightfully strange video of Conway Twitty performing "When You're Cool" on David Sanborn's Night Music TV show. The back-up dancers are none other than The Residents. Conway Twitty and The Residents (YouTube)


  1. Night Music with David Sanborn was simply one of the best live music forums this side of Austin City Limits. I still remember the night I stayed up to watch Sonic Youth on there, and over the closing credits, SY, Sanborn, and the Indigo Girls all performed Iggy Pop’s “I Wanna Be Your Dog”

  2. Boy I loved that show. The crazy and inspired collaborations really made it. I taped a couple of seasons on VHS, and every once in a while I remember that I don’t know where the tapes are, and get sad. Now I’m sad again.

    I think Jools Holland replaced David Sanborn (or did they co-host?) later on. The bit with Jools and Dr. John playing together on the same piano was great.

  3. The Residents being mentioned by someone other than me makes me happy =)

    i am never around anyone that has heard of them so its always a pleasure.

    …that being said; what a trip to see them with Conway Twitty!

  4. That Sonic Youth clip is jaw-droppingly cool. 1989? Wow!

    I miss the days when something as utterly cool as that could actually be produced.

  5. Darn! I submitted this almost a month ago and was surprised it didn’t make the grade when it never showed up.

    This kind of turns everything on its ear for a kid who grew up hating all that MOR country (even being forced once to visit Twitty City) and who found real comfort in his late teens in less conservative fare such as the Residents. Twitty time with the Residents! Mindbending.

  6. I set this up and can tell you that it was spectacular in person. It was the genius of Hal Wilner that really made this show. He created the inspiring mixture of artists for every airing. Also on this episode was Aster Aweke, and the Kronos Quartet.

    The entire show staff was great, as were all the artists, especially Conway Twitty. An extra special thanks goes to Phil Hymes, the lighting guru. He brought in enough black light to overpower the camera’s filtering system so The Residents’ props would shine as they should. If he hadn’t pulled that off, the Residents wouldn’t have had anything to work with and wouldn’t have been able to go on.

    My two favorite quotes related to this show were:

    1) During the first Residents’ number, they were wearing giant foam cowboy hats and had lights for eyes, singing and dancing around a campfire (from Buckaroo Blues). I was sitting next to a teamster who said to another teamster, “Man, these guys should be their own race on Star Trek.”

    2) Even better, Eddie Gorodetsky said later, “If you’re at home with a date watching late-night TV, and she says, ‘Oh, look… It’s Conway Twitty and the Residents!”… Marry her.”

  7. Wow! You’re welcome.

    Night Music was the greatest TV show that no one saw because NBC aired it at the butt-crack of dawn on a Sunday. There is a complete guest list at Wikipedia. For years, music lovers have been nagging the show’s production company, Broadway Video, to release the series on DVD. Broadway Video’s official position is that they are “working on it” but are having a hard time getting all of the needed clearances, trapping the show in copyright hell.

  8. I had no idea how cool Night Music was or what a stand up guy David Sanborn was. Guess it was on too late for this square pegg. That SY clip is just the shit! There certainly is nothing on TV these days to compare!

  9. I remember coming across this about a year ago on YouTube. I was searchng for Dan Hicks videos. He was also on night music as well, singing his song “I Scare Myself”.

    He’s on there, playing away, like a serious performer, trying not to notice the bizarre costumed characters slowly wiggling around him.

    It was like citizens of the Land of Happy Feet were abducted by Mr. Skull’s minions, and forced to perform in his chambers.

  10. @#5
    You need new friends. Knowledge of the Residents is a almost a prerequisite for association as far as I’m concerned, although I will make exception for fans of Sparks, Yello or Frank Chickens.

  11. This was one of the few episodes I remember seeing. I also recall Leonard Cohen and Sonny Rollins, and I think Todd Rundgren with Christian Marclay. I always thought the jams at the end were pretty staged and bland (they never really let the performers go off, but then I understand the limitations of a TV show so I’m not complaining).

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