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Writer's Block: A night unlike any other

What was the best night of your life so far, and what made it so special?

It was the night that made me decide to always be 36.  Ever since that night I have celebrated anniversaries of my 36th birthday and plan to die of advanced old age when I am still that age.  The carcass I walk around in can age in any way it wants, but my brain and heart are permanently set on a much different image.

The gentleman who made it special, died way too young and I no longer grieve, but just remember what it feels like to be totally alive in such a way that I try to re-create that feeling every day of my life since.  To simply be joyous in the fact of living.  First came the introduction: " I would like you all to meet Jamie, my associate, my lover, but most of all my best friend."  Then came the outside of the theater where a clown was juggling and a master of ceremonies was officiating.

If you have ever seen a production of "Barnum" this is part of the show that out by the box office there are circus acts.  My services were volunteered and I stepped up to be told to say, "Oh WA" stomp foot  "TA GU"  stomp foot "SIAM"  stomp foot.  I immediately got the joke but was signaled from below to go along with it.  When I got back down after blushing as everyone laughed, I heard in my ear.  "I love to see your boobs bounce when you stomp your foot".

Inside Jim Dale became Phineas T Barnum - Song after song seemed to have a special meaning and one in particular became his as Charity's version became mine.  "The Colors of My Life".



Later that night, he sits by the piano in his home and plays just for me rather than the crowd. The one thing we share more than any other: Life is a constant musical. There is absolutely nothing that has ever happened that someone hasn't written a song about, so you might as well get used to hearing the soundtrack. As always he does the next to last song that greets me when he is playing in public as my "Walk On Music" when I appear:



And finally before heading for bed: Our Song





5 On Friday - All In A Night's Work


 





Our buddy Travis is tossing a little twist into the usual Five On Friday  meme with the following:
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Five Degrees of Musical Progression is back!
I'd like to try something a little different for FDoMP, Vol 3.  I know it's only the second time we've actually done this as a group, and it would seem a little early to start throwing twists.  
Humor me, 'k?  It's my birthday. 
Here's the little twist...we all begin from the same jump off track.  There are a lot of directions we can go with this song, so I think it's a good starting point.

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To join in, simply visit Trav's Thoughts and sign in after creating your own 5 on Friday


Originally before this request from Travis, I was going to do Bessie Smith as this is the anniversary of her Birthday, so if you get a chance, visit You Tube for some more of her music.  While the daughter of a minister, she got started by singing on the streets.  Whether or not she did anything else is open for debate but it was a hard life at the beginning and may just fit in with my choice of songs for this week.  So here she is with "You Gotta Give Me Some".  Fair warning the lyrics to this song and everything from here on in has an R rating.



My 5 On Friday is not so much a progression as a profession - So let's take a short walk down a long long road with the ladies of the night.












Able Was I Ere I Saw Elba

On this day in 1814 Napoleon Bonaparte emperor of France and one of the greatest military leaders in history, abdicates the throne, and, in the Treaty of Fontainebleau, is banished to the Mediterranean island of Elba.  The link goes to "This Day In History" for the events of this day, and the title is one of my favorite palindromes.   To top it all off, this day gives me an excuse to play one of my favorite Mark Knopfler songs:  Done With Bonaparte which I used a while back for a "Take This Tune" theme.

The Bill of Goods We Were Sold



This is Tartan Week and there will be all sorts of delightful parades featuring men in skirts. It honors the Declaration of Arbroath sent by the Scottish barons to the pope in 1320. The Scottish nation was still defeated by England, but someone was listening as many of their descendants landed in a place that became the United States. Those descendants produced a Constitution which contained many of the ideas written at Arbroath and finally ratified in 1790. It didn’t do many of their fellow citizens any good until the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by Lincoln in 1863. Of course all the mothers, wives, and sisters had to wait until 1920 for a full voice.

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Tartan Week





For as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom — for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.

The Declaration of Arbroath
6 April 1320.

The Declaration of Arbroath is considered a source document, and many of the ideas relating to the unalienable right to freedom in this declaration eventually found their way into the American Declaration of Independence more than 400 years later.

The manifesto affirmed the nation of Scotland's independence in a way no battle could, and justified it with a truth that is beyond nation and race. Man has a right to freedom and a duty to defend it with his life. The natural qualifications put upon this by a medieval baron are irrelevant, as are the reservations which slave-owning Americans placed upon their declaration of independence. The truth once spoken cannot be checked, the seed once planted controls its own growth, and the liberty which men secure for themselves must be given by them to others, or it will be taken as they took it. Freedom is a hardy plant and must flower in equality and brotherhood.

From The Lion in the North: One Thousand Years of Scotland's History
Penguin Books.

New York in particular has some wonderful celebrations that you can check out HERE

So whether your heritage is Scottish or not, Tartan Week in celebration of the Declaration of Arbroath is for you, as is Bob Burn's song celebrating the rights and freedoms of the individual.




A Man's A Man For A' That

Is there for honest poverty
That hangs his head, an' a' that
The coward slave, we pass him by
We dare be poor for a' that
For a' that, an' a' that
Our toil's obscure and a' that
The rank is but the guinea's stamp
The man's the gowd for a' that

What though on hamely fare we dine
Wear hoddin grey, an' a' that
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine
A man's a man, for a' that
For a' that, an' a' that
Their tinsel show an' a' that
The honest man, though e'er sae poor
Is king o' men for a' that

Ye see yon birkie ca'd a lord
Wha struts an' stares an' a' that
Tho' hundreds worship at his word
He's but a coof for a' that
For a' that, an' a' that
His ribband, star and a' that
The man o' independent mind
He looks an' laughs at a' that

A prince can mak' a belted knight
A marquise, duke, an' a' that
But an honest man's aboon his might
Gude faith, he maunna fa' that
For a' that an' a' that
Their dignities an' a' that
The pith o' sense an' pride o' worth
Are higher rank that a' that

Then let us pray that come it may
(as come it will for a' that)
That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth
Shall bear the gree an' a' that
For a' that an' a' that
It's coming yet for a' that
That man to man, the world o'er
Shall brithers be for a' that

Oh What A Beautiful Musical




If you would like to play along on this great meme, simply head over to Trav's Thoughts, sign in and follow the Rules/No Rules:

1. Grab the banner, make your post title Five on Friday, and be sure to link back here.
2. Go to Playlist.com to make your Set of five songs. You may choose a particular theme to share with us, or post random tunes if that's your vibe for the day. You can simply post the Set, or you can add a little summary about what you are sharing.
2a. Don't feel restricted by the tracks listed on Playlist.com. And don't be discouraged if the Embed code won't work. You're welcome to use any type of media to share your Sets.
3. Be sure to sign Mr Linky so everyone can visit your Set.
4. No tags, but feel free to invite your friends to play along if they need a post topic on a Friday.

There was something musical happening on April 1 but it was the sad death of Marvin Gaye and since something absolutely remarkable that changed musical theater forever happened on March 31, I'm cheating a bit.

Based on the play Green Grow the Lilacs, the first title given to the work was Away We Go! which opened for out-of-town-tryouts in Connecticut on March 11, 1943. Expectations for the show were very low, the composer had just broken up with his alcoholic if brilliant lyricist and the new writer and lyricist had had six flops in a row. The producer, Mike Todd is supposed to have walked out after the first act during the tryout and wisecracked “No legs, no jokes, no chance", which was quoted by Walter Winchell in his New York column. The cast was so depressed that there is an apocryphal story that Celeste Holm was supposed to have asked, "Who do you have to lay (euphemism) to get out of this thing?"

And then the curtain went up March 31, 1943 on Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!", and musical theater has never been the same since. It ran for an unprecedented 2,212 performances. For more than 65 years now it has been in almost constant award-winning revivals, national tours, foreign productions and an Academy Award winning 1955 film as well as a popular choice for school and community productions.

The selections below are all from the wonderful 1998 London revival. The international cast included Hugh Jackman as Curly, Maureen Lipman as Aunt Eller, Josefina Gabrielle as Laurey, and Shuler Hensley as Jud Fry. This production was filmed and issued on DVD, as well as being broadcast on U.S. Public in November 2003.








Surrey With The Fringe On Top



People Will Say We're In Love



I Can't Say No (Vicki Simon as Ado Annie)



Poor Jud Is Dead



Oklahoma

Let America Be America Again

With all that's going on in the news from corporate control and bribery of Congress, wholesale attempts at union busting and transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top 1% while engaging in three wars, we just need a reminder of where that all ends up. This poem comes from Langston Hughes during the depression with its clarion call for America to once more be the government for the people.









Let America Be America Again
 
by Langston Hughes

Originally published in Esquire (1938) 

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?


I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

A Lady For All Seasons





27 February 1932 – 23 March 2011


Elizabeth Taylor passed away today at Cedars Sinai after a long bout with congestive heart failure.  She was one of the greatest of the ladies of the golden age of cinema, but even more she was a generous, loving woman who will be mourned by those who knew her well.

I have only one personal story about her, but it probably speaks to the woman's basic character.  It was the height of the Eddie, and Liz scandal shortly after Eddie and Liz had married.  They were passing through LAX on the way to somewhere and doing the glamorous  passage through what were then wide open areas complete with baggage and dogs.  I had stopped by to visit my aunt who worked at one of the magazine/book kiosks only to stand on the fringes as she handled the madhouse of passengers trying to pay for purchases while rushing for a plane.

Eddie Fisher rushed up with an armload of magazines demanding attention.  Aunt Ruth simply continued taking customers in order while he staged a mini "do you know who I am" scene and then rushed off without paying.  A few minutes later, Liz returned with the magazines, waited her turn in the thinning crowd and said, "I believe my husband failed to pay for these."  

No wonder Richard Burton looked like a better option - both times.

In her later years she devoted herself to the AIDS crisis raising millions to find a cure.  Condolences to her family and all who will cherish her memory.


 




 

Math Sing-along To The Golden Mean

 







What Pi Sounds Like



The Golden Mean

One of the major places where people cutting school budgets go horribly wrong is trying to save money by cutting "unnecessary" music and arts programs in favor of the "basics". What they miss and why they fail students is that the structure of music and the composition of art enhances rather that detracts from the "basics".

How it all comes together:  Danny Kaye singing Inchworm & Sarah McLachlin finding just another ordinary miracle in the vast mathematical plan of the universe.



Let The Rivers Run

 




The 5 On Friday meme was invented by Travis. The basic "rules/no rules' are shown below. Be sure to sign in on the Trav's Thoughts page so we can all share your music.


1. Grab the banner, make your post title Five on Friday, and be sure to link back here.

2. Go to Playlist.com to make your Set of five songs. You may choose a particular theme to share with us, or post random tunes if that's your vibe for the day. You can simply post the Set, or you can add a little summary about what you are sharing.

2a. Don't feel restricted by the tracks listed on Playlist.com. And don't be discouraged if the Embed code won't work. You're welcome to use any type of media to share your Sets.

3. Be sure to sign Mr Linky so everyone can visit your Set.

4. No tags, but feel free to invite your friends to play along if they need a post topic on a Friday.

Go forth and enjoy music!
 
There is going to be a busy three days, so this will go up early for the weekend.

This week was my birthday.  As such I am a Piscean which means I never want to be far from free running water:  Oceans, Waterfalls, little streams, gutters in the rain and even showers and bathtubs, I love the sound of running water.  This week you get my favorite form of water ... free flowing rivers.




 
First up the second song I ever thought of as "my favorite".  The first was "Far Away Places" and the second Shenandoah about the wide Missouri.  Somewhere between five and seven I got the idea of leaving home, and a river was the best way to get from here to there.
 
 


Shenandoah - The Robert Shaw Chorale





First heard the next song in the movie "Working Girl", then this video came out with its views of the Hudson and New York City.  New York equates to theater.  This immediately became a river that must be seen in person.



Let The River Run - Carly Simon





While living in DC, one of the Broadway musicals I was fortunate enough to see during its tryouts was "Big River" written by Roger Miller.  It isn't one of my favorites, but it has two wonderful river songs:  Muddy Water and the lovely River In The Rain.  I've seen the Mississippi and somewhere there is River Boat suite waiting.



River In The Rain - Roger Miller (Written for broadway show:  Big River)

The next is a sad song about a truly fun river.  The Kern flows down from the Sierra with white water rafting at the top and lazy fun summer floating through the San Joaquin below.  It is one I have floated many times or swung into from a tire on the edge of my uncles raisin ranch.  On one float I slipped over the side of a raft and swam in the Kern and got a surprise.  At the height of summer the air may be over a hundred, but the deeper sections of the Kern are still cold with the snow melt and the current can be very swift.  Don't get in unless you are a strong swimmer.  It took me a half hour to swim back against the current to catch my raft. .... didn't do that again.



Kern River - Merle Haggard

You know there must be a bit of history.  Disney inaccurate version of course, but who cares when there is a good song:  Pocahontas with just why rivers are so very very special to gypsy like creatures born under water signs who truly love all the rivers running.



Just Around The River Bend - From Pocahontas Sung by Judy Kuhn

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