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.
This week on the Friday mega music blog…
Yes, we’re going on an adventure, and a much bigger one than the Cat in the Hat and the Thinga–ma–jigger
This is the 150th anniversary of Jules Verne’s classic “Around the World in Eighty Days” written in 1872.
You say you never read the book? Never saw the 1956 movie that won the Oscar for Best Picture?
The story is about Phileas Fogg and his French valet Passepartout who set out to circumnavigate the globe in 80 days. Technology was booming when Verne wrote his adventure in the 1870’s. In the book Fogg gets into an argument with his fellow members At the Reform Club over an article in The Daily Telegraph. The article stated that with the opening of a new railway section in India, it is now possible to travel around the world in 80 days. He accepts a wager for £20,000 (about £1.5 million today) from his fellow club members, which he will receive if he makes it around the world in 80 days.
This month Jeffrey Tucker, founder and president of the Brownstone Institute, wrote a column on today’s travel restrictions and tied in Verne’s famous travelogue.
“Exposure to foreign cultures and peoples is good for everyone. This gets us out of our isolation and lets us see the world in a different way. It broadens our minds, makes us curious about languages and history, and generally increases familiarity and thus humane treatment of others. In other words, travel promotes human understanding and human rights. This is the idea, beautifully embodied in this literary classic.”
What of Verne’s ambitious itinerary? Could Fogg win the bet in 1872?
We examine in a musical journey that begins where most of the book takes place: Victorian England.
Fogg and his French valet Passepartout start out by leaving London.
Brian Setzer of the Stary Cats turned musical heads when he formed his own big band in the mid 90s, the 17-piece swing ensemble the Brian Setzer Orchestra.
Setzer and the orchestra recorded a 1940 sentimental song about the first meeting of two lovers in Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London.
Setzer announced in 2021 he was forced to cancel a run of US tour dates due to a severe case of the hearing condition tinnitus, a condition that is known for causing a high-pitched ringing in the ears, often caused by an exposure to loud noises.
Back to Phileas Fogg and his valet Passepartout. Their original itinerary in the book takes them from London to Suez (Cairo) by taking the Orient Express train. They travel across France and the Alps to reach Venice. Here, they move on to Brindisi (Italy) where they change to a steamer that brings them across the Mediterranean Sea. Keeping score this part of the travels takes 7 days.
From Suez (Cairo) to Mumbai, our heroes disembark in a steamer across the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, headed for Bombay.. This takes a total of 13 days.After reaching India, they take a train from Bombay to Calcutta which takes 3 days.
In 1961 Elvis was back in the US after serving in the Army in Germany. The Beatles and the rest of the British Invasion hadn’t happened yet. And Lawrence Welk, host of a popular weekly nationwide TV show had a million-seller on his hands, a real toe-tapping hand clapper.
OK. It’s Lawrene Welk. Laugh if you will, but a million copies!
The single shot up to #1 on the Billboard chart and people noticed, like the vocal group Four Preps who thought, why not put words to the instrumental. So they rushed to the studio to take advantage.
From Calcutta Fogg and his valet catch a steamer going to Hong Kong across the South China Sea which takes 13 days.
Then it’s on to Yokohama, Japan in 6 days.
In 1963 Japanese crooner Kyu Sakamoto had a #1 with “Sukiyaki.”
Sakamoto’s single sold 13 million copies worldwide. Sakamoto was one of 520 people who died in a Japan Airlines crash in 1985. He was 43.
In 1981 the duo “A Taste of Honey” released an English version of “Sukiyaki” that went to #3.
It takes another 22 days for Fogg and Passepartout to travel from Yokohama to San Francisco. They took a steamer across the Pacific Ocean for this journey.
Tower of Power, a horn band that combines R&B, soul, funk, and pop has been playing since 1968. That’s more than 50 years.
Not based in San Franciso. Actually Oakland. That’s pretty darn close.
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend.
In San Francisco, Fogg and Passepartout board a transcontinental train to New York which takes another 7 days. From “Saturday Night Fever”…
From New York, it’s another steamer to cross the Atlantic Ocean and a total of 9 days to reach London from New York.
Lots of mishaps along the way. We’ve left out the spoiler alerts in case you care to read the book or see the movie. But the bet was won.
Around the world in 80 days? Today the fastest route can be even less than 80 hours.