Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
Conflict between the colonies and England was already a year old when the colonies convened a Continental Congress in Philadelphia in the summer of 1776. In a June 7 session in the Pennsylvania State House (later Independence Hall), Richard Henry Lee of Virginia presented a resolution with the famous words: “Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”
Lee’s words were the impetus for the drafting of a formal Declaration of Independence, although the resolution was not followed up on immediately.
On July 1, 1776, the Continental Congress reconvened, and on the following day, the Lee Resolution for independence was adopted by 12 of the 13 colonies, New York not voting. The process of revision continued through all of July 3 and into the late afternoon of July 4, when the Declaration was officially adopted. Of the 13 colonies, nine voted in favor of the Declaration, two — Pennsylvania and South Carolina — voted No, Delaware was undecided and New York abstained. John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence. It is said that John Hancock’s signed his name “with a great flourish” so England’s “King George can read that without spectacles!”
An honor guard stands next to the original copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights at the National Archives in Washington, D. C. Photo: CNN
This week, it’s all about patriotic music to get you in the mood for the big birthday.
We begin with “The Liberty Fanfare,” composed in 1986 by John Williams to commemorate the rededication and 100th Anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. There’s an opening celebratory presentation, before a rousing conclusion.
The Colorado Symphony performs.
Now another John Williams composition. It’s from the classic World War II motion picture, “Midway” in 1976. Listen to a powerful and riveting march from an album that’s perfect to celebrate Independence Day.
America is simply the greatest nation in the entire world.
At the EPCOT theme park in Walt Disney World, a 30-minute show featuring Audio-Animatronics, film and music bring America’s past to life at the American Adventure Pavilion.
Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain are the tour guides in a theater with elegant Corinthian-style chandeliers, archways and columns. The audience sees key historical events on a 72-foot screen like the landing of the Mayflower, the Boston Tea Party, the winter at Valley Forge, the Declaration of Independence, the Civil War, industrialization and the Great Depression.
And there’s inspirational music, too.
America, spread your golden wings
Sail on freedom’s wind, across the sky.
Great bird, with your golden dreams
flying high, flying high.
Restless one in a world of change,
keeping dreams aloft in the rain.
Spirit free, soaring through the clouds
of time, of time.
America, you must keep dreaming now
Dreaming the promised vow of your pioneers
America, keep on flying now.
Keep your spirit free.
Facing new frontiers.
Restless one in a world of change,
Keeping dreams aloft in the rain,
Spirit free, soaring through the clouds,
Of time, of time,
Spirit free, you must keep flying now,
Reaching to touch the sky, towards the winds of change,
Oh restless one, search for brighter day,
Soaring through stormy skies, with you’re head held high,
America, spread your golden wings
Sail on freedom’s wind across the sky.
Great bird with your golden dreams,
Flying high, flying high,
Flying high, flying high!
Next, you probably recognize this theme but may not know the title.
The tune “Colonel Bogey” was made famous in the British film “Bridge on the River Kwai.”
It was written by the bandmaster FJ Ricketts, who often wrote march tunes under the name of Kenneth Alford. Ricketts was the son of a Cockney coal merchant in Shadwell, in London’s East End, and when his parents died he was put into the army as a boy soldier and sent out to India.
When it became quite evident Ricketts possessed musical talent he was sent to the Army School of Music at Kneller Hall, Twickenham, and soon became bandmaster for the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
The story goes that he wrote “Colonel Bogey” after playing golf with the colonel of his regiment at Fort St George in Scotland. Instead of shouting “Fore!”, his commanding officer would loudly whistle two notes to those playing ahead. Ricketts added more notes for the final tune. The title is a humorous reference to his colonel’s inability to score par on the golf course.
“Colonel Bogey” has been adopted by former POWs of the Japanese as a theme song.
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend and 4th of July.
Mickey Newbury was considered one of the best and most influential songwriters of his time, the late 60’s and early 70’s. 1968 was a monumental year as Newbury garnered three number one songs and a number five on four different musical charts:
1) Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) on the Pop/Rock chart by the First Edition (#5)
2) Sweet Memories on the Easy Listening chart by Andy Williams (#1)
3) Time is a Thief on the R&B chart by Solomon Burke (#1)
4) Here Comes the Rain Baby on the Country chart by Eddy Arnold (#1)
No one’s done it ever since. A possibly even bigger feat, though, was still ahead.
From an essay on Newbury’s own website:
Imagine merging Civil War era songs of the North, South and African-American slaves into one unified movement. On a starry evening in May of 1970 while appearing on stage at the Bitter End West, Newbury did just that. The impromptu arrangement just came together on that magical night and in one moment of brilliant inspiration.
We get more details from Australian blogger Geoffrey McDonnell who writes about that night backstage at the Bitter End West in Los Angeles.
It was a time of frequent newspaper headlines about whites in newly integrated Southern schools insisting on Dixie as the school fight song, and blacks protesting because to them it was an anthem of white supremacy.
Newbury was annoyed because he saw nothing in the song itself that should make it the exclusive property of one-time segregationists, and on a whim he announced that he would sing it that night just to prove a point. The Bitter End’s manager, Paul Colby, was alarmed at the prospect — at first laughing nervously on the off-chance that Newbury was joking. But when he realized that the star of the evening was absolutely serious, he began explaining with rapid-fire urgency that Dixie was not exactly the type of song that a bunch of radicalized young Californians had turned out to hear.
No matter. Newbury was undeterred, and when he got onstage he ran through part of his normal set, and then with a gentle strum of his guitar, he began to sing the words, ”Oh I wish I was in the land of cotton.” But instead of belting them out in the rebel-yell style that everybody was accustomed to, he plucked the notes slowly on his old guitar, and his voice took on a rich, haunting quality that called up a different set of images — visions not of a mean-spirited South, but of a poignant South, a land caught in the grips of tragedy and suffering for 150 years.
There was power in the transformation, and it grew even stronger as Newbury shifted in midnote to The Battle Hymn of the Republic, and then to an antebellum gospel song called All My Trials. Before the impromptu trilogy was completed, it had become one of the most supercharged events in the history of the Bitter End West.
“An American Trilogy” has been called “an indelible, essential work of the American songbook,” and “a great slice of Americana” that “bonds minority, Southern and Northern issues into a common lament.”
Brian Hinton wrote it has become “the ultimate example of Americana. It somehow evokes the birth of modern America.”
Newbury died in 2002. He was 62.
A remarkable 530 different artists or groups have recorded “An American Trilogy,” but none more famous than Elvis who made it a staple of his live concerts. Elvis’ rendition is stirring and emotional to say the least and his fans know it very well.
“If I Can Dream: Elvis Presley With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra” was released in 2015.
From the website sonymusic:
As an exciting revisit of Elvis’ work, ‘If I Can Dream’ was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London with acclaimed producers Don Reedman and Nick Patrick. The 14-track album features Elvis’ most dramatic original performances augmented with lush new arrangements by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, plus a duet with Michael Buble and appearances by Il Volo and Duane Eddy.
“This would be a dream come true for Elvis,” Priscilla Presley says of the project. “He would have loved to play with such a prestigious symphony orchestra. The music… the force that you feel with his voice and the orchestra is exactly what he would have done.” Don Reedman also commented, “Abbey Road Studios and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra are as good as it gets and Elvis deserves as good as it gets.”
The producer of this homemade video took video clips of the King and matched them to the American Trilogy track. Normally this technique doesn’t work all that well but this is exceptional.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist Duane Eddy was brought in to add his signature sound.
The force. It’s there. Prepare to be blown away.