Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Free-Wheeling Freberg 4th, and 1776

I did something I’ve not done on July 4th in the 8 years I’ve been alone and on my own.  I listened to the classic comedy album “Stan Freberg Presents, The United States of America" - all original songs and great sketches with big name (at the time) character and voice actors, including Freeberg, who wrote the whole thing. The great Billy May provides the orchestrations.  It’s been a standard of mine for many years.

A radio station in NYC used to play it every year on the 4th as my friends and I would be lying on the beach at Reis Park laughing and singing along.  Great fun and wonderful memories.

From Vaudeville to a little more high-brow:

The second something was to pop in the DVD of “1976 the Musical” which has become a sort of tradition.  I saw the play on Broadway (with pretty much the same cast), fell in love with the show and music and was very disappointed when a few important songs were cut from the film when it opened at Radio City Music Hall.  I mean, me being such a liberal, and all. It pissed me off.

Fortunately, the Republicans lost power and some of those songs and scenes were eventually restored for the Director’s Restored Version of the film on DVD.  This is the one I own.

One of the most important songs cut from the film was “Cool, Cool Considerate Men” perceived as a direct swipe at the Nixon Administration, it was ordered scrapped, even destroyed.  Fortunately for us, that didn't happen...

The song "Cool, Cool, Considerate Men" depicts Revolutionary War–era conservatives as power-hungry wheedlers focused on maintaining wealth. According to Jack L. Warner, the film's producer and a friend of U.S. President Richard Nixon, Nixon pressured him to cut the song from the 1972 film version of the show, which Warner did. Nixon apparently saw the song as an insult to the conservatives of his time, it suggesting that the conservatives were the ones who were hindering American Independence as they danced a minuet singing the song that included the stanza, 
Come ye cool, cool considerate set 
We'll dance together to the same minuet
To the right, ever to the right 
Never to the left, forever to the right 
To further complicate things as mentioned above, the song is anachronistic, because, the terms "right" and "left" in politics were not coined until the French Revolution. Warner also wanted the original negative of the song shredded, but the film's editor secretly kept it intact. It was only decades later that the song was restored to the film.
So: Much praise for secretive, farsighted film editors. 
And: Damn Republicans! Always trying to rewrite history in their image.  Hrumpf!

The film  is long, but never boring, at least to me.  Ken Howard is always delicious to watch, especially with red hair. And, when the courier sings "Mama, Look Sharp" I always cry like a baby...never fails.  Great song, powerful statement.

The 40 year old film, a period piece, holds up very well. There is plenty for the eyes and mind to absorb; historic accuracy be damned.  Yes, the Congress was held in secrecy, but the play is a fly-on-the-wall kind of interpretation of what might have happened given existing records of what was reported as happening. Call it “artistic license” and be done with it. 

Anyway, that’s my story of celebrating the 4th. and I’l sticking to it.  As the film ended I heard the explosions of the fireworks display going off over the ocean a few blocks away.  That was enough for one holiday.

My clothes had dried out nicely, supper was delicious, and I was done in for the day.

I brushed my teeth and went to bed.

And so it goes.


1 comment:

  1. spouse always watches "1776" on the 4th. plus ca change, plus la meme chose.


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