The long awaited classic Lily Tomlin album “Modern Scream” is now available on CD. This was Lily’s first concept album recorded in 1975 featuring all of her favorite characters including ERNESTINE, MRS. BEASLEY, SUZY SORORITY, EDITH ANN, DR. DACEY, TONI, and SISTER BOOGIE MAN.
Now moving into one-woman shows written by her companion Jane Wagner, Lily began abandoning standard jokes for character studies. “Modern Scream” offers Lucille, a tearful alcoholic who has a rubber fetish: “At first I was careful, ya know. Door stops. Backs off the shag rugs. Tip of mothers’ cane….I don’t know what would come over me, I’d just jump up, run into the kitchen and eat a spatula.” There’s Suzy Sorority, the ultimate Valley Girl-homecoming queen; housewife Judith Beasley; and sister Boogie Woman, who can define happiness as “When you’re seventy-seven years old…and your teeth are in a jar and those teeth are smillin’.”
There are a few moments for Tomlin’s one-liner observations: “The formula for water is H2O. Is the formula for an ice cube H2O squared? Why is it when we talk to God we’re said to be praying, but when God talks to us we’re schizophrenic?” Trying to turn vinyl into an art form, this one is a collage of studio cuts with sound effects, running commentary between Lily and a reporter, and live material.