Back In Town (1996)

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  • HBO special and album

  • Eardrum Records / Atlantic Recording Corporation / Wea International Inc.

  • Recorded on March 30, 1996 at the Beacon Theater, NY.

  • Produced by George Carlin. Location sound by Terry Kulchar. Edited by Mike Stone. Mastered by Steve Hall at Future Disc Systems, Inc., Los Angeles CA.

  • Saxophone solo: Klem Klimeck.

  • Art direction and design by Benjamin Niles.

  • Back cover photography by Mike Albans, NY Daily News.

  • Live Photography by Patrick Harbron.

  • Other artwork from the personal collection of George Carlin.


Album version:

  1. Abortion [8:41]

  2. Sanctity of Life [3:49]

  3. Capital Punishment [8:40]

  4. State Prison Farms [8:13]

  5. Farting in Public [3:00]

  6. Familiar Expressions [9:14]

  7. Free-Floating Hostility [19:30]:

    • a) Quote Marks in the Air

    • b) Badda-Boom, Badda-Bing

    • c) Bad Hair Day

    • d) I Heard That

    • e) My Needs Aren’t Being Met

    • f) Mickey Mouse’s Birthday

    • g) The Two Pandas in the Zoo

    • h) Sperm/Egg-Donors, etc.

    • i) Innocent Victims

    • j) Personal Bottles of Water

    • k) Women with Hyphenated Names

    • l) Telephone Calling Plans

    • m) Motivation Tapes/Books

    • n) One-Hour Photo Finishing

    • o) Too Many Vehicles

    • p) Backwards Baseball Hats

    • q) Earrings on Men

    • r) Colored Ribbons

    • s) Christian Athletes and Voices in One’s Head

    • t) Aftershave and Cologne

    • u) Cowboy Hats and Cowboy Boots

    • v) Assholes with Camcorders

    • w) Whining Baby Boomers

    • x) In Defense of Politicians

    • y) Why I Don’t Vote

HBO special (DVD chapters):

  1. Abortion [9:14]

  2. Sanctity of Life [3:51]

  3. Capital Punishment [8:35]

  4. State Prison Farms [8:21]

  5. Farting in Public [2:55]

  6. Familiar Expressions [9:15]

  7. Free-Floating Hostility [19:49]

  8. End Credits [0:42]


You’ll notice a 4-year gap between this album and the previous one. This was largely because of Carlin’s commitments to The George Carlin Show and Shining Time Station. He still toured around the US doing stand-up during that time, though.

Regarding Back In Town, the album’s back cover included the following message:

Here’s what I want you to know about this album: It’s the best writing and performing I’ve done in thirty-six years. I said that about my last album, “Jammin’ In New York,” and it was true. But this is better. Somehow, in the last six years, I finally learned how to do this shit. I hope you enjoy it. – George.

I was in college at this time, where I didn’t really watch any cable TV. So I didn’t know about this HBO special at all until I happened to see the CD in the stores, shortly after it was released. I had however seen Carlin do most of the routines when I saw him live around 1995. At that show, I remember him ending the entire set with the line “And fuck everybody, now that I think of it.”

Carlin opens the performance with his classic line, “Why is it that most of the people who are against abortion, are people you wouldn’t want to fuck in the first place?” He’s used this line (or slight variations of it) a number of times over the years. It showed up on his 1981 album A Place For My Stuff, then in Carlin At Carnegie, and in 1988 in What Am I Doing In New Jersey?. However, this time it prefaces a whole routine about abortion and abortion laws.

The liner notes include some miscellaneous lines:

  • “We must view with profound respect the infinite capacity of the human mind to resist the introduction of useful knowledge.” - Thomas Raynesford Lounsbury (American scholar and educator, 1938-1915)

  • facilities for the handicapped located on the ballroom level

  • Annie McGriff, She gave me the siff.

  • Angela Knapp. I gave her the clap.

  • Every day I beat my own previous record for the number of consecutive days I’ve stayed alive.