Archive for the ‘ Music ’ Category

“Pomp and Circumstance”

Graduation season is in full swing, and it is interesting to note that today is the birth date of the Englishman who wrote the recognizable music piece we refer to as “Pomp and Circumstance.”

It’s been used at every graduation I’ve ever been to and at graduations across the US.

Edward Elgar was born on June 2, 1857 in the small village of Lower Broadheath.

His father was apprenticed to a music publisher as a young man, worked as a piano tuner, and sold sheet music and musical instruments.

Music was in their blood, and the Elgar children were trained in music, musical instruments, and music theory.  Edward took UP the piano and the violin at the age of eight.

His father, seeing that Edward showed real talent, took him along as he went to the homes of influential people to tune their pianos.

The real name of the song is “Land of Hope and Glory”, March No. 1, and was written for publication and dedicated to a close friend of Elgar and his wife.

It was revised and revamped for the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902.

Know in the US as the Graduation March, it is played as the processional at most high school and many college graduations.

The first time this occurred was on June 28, 1905 at Yale University when music professor Samuel Stanford, a friend of Elgar’s, invited the Englishman to attend the commencement and receive an honorary doctorate of music.

Elgar gladly accepted, and Sanford assured Elgar was the star of the show!

He enlisted the Glee Club, the Yale College Choir, the music faculty, and many New York professionals to perform two of Elgar’s pieces.

The graduates exited the facility to “Land of Hope and Glory”, March No. 1 or to us, “Pomp and Circumstance”.

That’s how it all started.

Today it is played as a processional rather than a recessional.  After all, when graduation’s over, nobody wants to hang around the gym while folks file out!

Mom and Dad are relieved Junior made it out of school, and everyone’s ready to party!

Poet Laureate

Bob Dylan turns 76 today.

He is the poet of my generation.

Here’s one we rarely hear…

I don’t know why, but I always thought Lesley Gore was British.  I suppose it’s because everyone else back then was – or seemed to be.

But, she wasn’t.  Lesley Sue Goldstein was born in Brooklyn, NY on May 2, 1946.  At the age of 16, she recorded her fist hit, “It’s My Party.”  It was quickly followed by several others, such as “Judy’s Turn To Cry,” and “You Don’t Own Me.”

There was a lot about Lesley Gore I didn’t know.  All her songs were recorded before she was 18.

Really, not one single hit after that!

But, she wasn’t idle.

She worked as an actress, composed songs along with her brother, Michael, and was nominated for an Academy Award for her the music from the film Fame.

Yeah, missed that one completely!

Her first hit, “It’s My Party” was actually a cover of the same song previously recorded by the Chiffons.

It went nowhere until Lesley recorded it along with Quincy Jones.

It was after this hit that fans started showing UP in her front yard.

Daddy was not pleased.

After high school, continuing to make professional appearances, Lesley attended Sarah Lawrence College where she studied British and American English Lit.

As a pop singer, she was not a hit at SLC.  Gore said, “…had I been tall with blonde hair, had I been Mary Travers, I would have gotten along fine.”

Apparently, pop music wasn’t cool enough.  She graduated in 1968.

Gore worked continuously, but stopped recording in 1976.  She went back into the studio again in 2005 and recorded Ever Since.  The reviews were good, but by then, the voice of teenage angst had changed.

A lot!

In 2004 she hosted the PBS TV series In the Life, which focused on LGBT issues.  In an interview that same year she stated she had been in a relationship with luxury jewelry designer, Lois Sasson since 1982, and that even though the music business was “totally homophobic,” she never felt she had to pretend she was straight, stating “I just kind of lived my life naturally and did what I wanted to do. I didn’t avoid anything.”

She died in 2015  from lung cancer while working on her memoir.

The New York Times obituary said, “…Lesley Gore made herself the voice of teenage girls aggrieved by fickle boyfriends, moving quickly from tearful self-pity to fierce self- assertion.”

That like her hit “You Don’t Own Me,” about sums it UP.


Oh, Oliver!

The radio alarm awoke me recently with a blast from my past.

Frankly, I wasn’t ready to go back to 1969, but the radio station and Oliver decided I must.

As I lay there fighting the urge to sleep, these words jolted me awake…”… Gliddy glub gloopy, nibby nabby noopy la, la, la, lo, lo Sabba sibby sabba, nooby abba nabba, le, le, lo, lo
Tooby ooby walla, nooby abba naba…”

…and I wondered, “What were we thinking?”

I mean really, who came UP with that crap?

The song of course, is from the Broadway musical Hair which debuted off-Broadway in 1967 and made the big time in 1968.

The book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni and music by Galt MacDermot, was a product of the “hippie” counterculture and sexual revolution of the late 1960s.

“Good Morning Starshine” is from the second act of the musical, and is performed by the character Sheila,

Of course, Oliver made it famous.  It wasn’t a one hit wonder, but Oliver’s career was, oh let’s say, a four hit wonder…

William Oliver Swofford was born on February 22, 1945, in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina which is the home of Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse, The North Wilkesboro Speedway, and is just past the Tweetise Railroad Amusement Park which my children remember as one of the places I dragged them to back in the day.

Oliver was a recipient of the prestigious Morehead Scholarship and attended UNC Chapel Hill in 1963.

He was a member of two popular music groups — The Virginians and, later, The Good Earth — and was then known as Bill Swofford.

Clean cut, good looking, and with a soaring tenor voice he was perfect for the single and commercial version of the song, Good Morning Starshine.

He brought it to number 3 on the charts, sold a million copies, and won a gold record.

He also performed the song Jean from the movie The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (which is one of my favorite Maggie Smith vehicles.)

He went on to have a modestly successful career.

He eventually turned to business to make a living, selling real estate and running a Pharmaceutical company.

In the mid 90s he developed Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease and was eventually diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

He lost the battle with the disease in 2000 just a few days short of his 55th birthday.

But we, if we do at all, remember him for Good Morning Starshine.

The song was immensely popular.

I don’t know why!

It makes no sense.

But, that didn’t stop nearly every other singer from covering it.

Andy Williams, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Hugo Montenegro!!!, Diana Ross and even Bob McGrath of Sesame Street recorded it.

Is it the frivolity of the song that attracts us?

The nonsensical refrain of Gliddy Glub gloopy?

I don’t get it.

But for some reason, I can’t get it out of my head either!

But, hey, it’s Monday, and we all need to wake UP, so here ya go…