This piece really struck a chord with me. I’ve always sort of fetishized the romantic notion of a diner at the wee hours having some sort of near-mystical significance, so I enjoyed this a lot. What I liked lot about it was how much the “TAL” team let people tell their stories in their own words. A lot of the piece was just people talking about their lives. But there was also just enough nat sound to give it a little bit of texture. I especially like the harmonica at the beginning–it set kind of a nice rustic tone for the rest of the piece…or the accordion, which is what it says in the summary, but I remember it as a harmonica. Oh well.
This was definitely a good example of “less is more.” I think the producers all did a great job of standing back and allowing their subjects to tell their own story. That’s important. Most of the narration just seems to be reacting to people, instead of trying to make any definitive statement on who they are. The warm, intimate voices do a great job of telling you most everything that you need to know. I especially remember the 78-year-old construction who said “That’s all there is” or something like that all the time, and the waitress who told the producer she didn’t feel like talking anymore. They had personalities that really came through, mostly because the production was too overbearing. I mean, this would never work as an episode of “Radiolab.”
I honestly didn’t like the nighttime part as much. I don’t know, but the subjects just didn’t do as much for me. I think the morning people just seemed to have more dignity and experience.
I really liked the former couple. That was a fascinating story that unfolded in a completely unexpected way. I liked how they were introduced, and how their backstory slowly came to the fore. When I first heard their introduction, I assumed they were a couple. Then I find out they used to be, and aren’t anymore. Then I learn way more about them then is really comfortable. It all comes out slowly, and their personalities–especially the guy’s–are slowly unfurled completely. It was masterful in my opinion.
I have honestly not listened to too much “This American Life,” but of the ones I have heard, it is my favorite.