Song Lyric Sunday — American Music

Jim Adams has decreed this week’s Song Lyric Sunday theme is “American Music,” defined as “any song played by an American group.” While I could argue with that definition, I’ll let it pass. In any case, I don’t think anyone other than Americans sing my choice, “God Bless America,” written by quintessential American songwriter, Russian-born immigrant, Irving Berlin.

Born Israel Beilin in Russia on May 11, 1988, he became “Irving Berlin” when the sheet music for his first published song, “Marie from Sunny Italy,” credited “I. Berlin” as the lyricist for Mike Nicholson’s music. It was 1907, and they split a 75-cent royalty. Over the next several years, Berlin expanded his talents to include composing his own music for his lyrics, performing his music in vaudeville productions, and writing the music and lyrics for Broadway productions.

His creative spurt encompassed his growth as a businessman protecting his rights and royalties, as well as for others as a co-founder of The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). He also established the Irving Berlin Music, Inc. publishing house to maintain control of all his output.

After the United States entered into World War I in December 1917, he became an American citizen two months later and was drafted into the Army, where he managed to finagle an assignment writing a musical revue about Army life. Originally, Berlin wrote “God Bless America” for the finale of that 1918 revue but decided another number was a better fit. He filed the song away for 20 years, until a 1938 visit to London. During that visit, British Prime Minister Chamberlain met with Hitler, signing appeasements in an attempt to avoid the likelihood of war as Hitler aggressively annexed portions of other European countries.

Deeply affected by those political tensions, Berlin revised “God Bless America” from a 1918 war song to a peace song. American singer Kate Smith debuted it on her Armistice Day (November 10) 1938 radio show. Here are Berlin’s hand-written revised lyrics:

Berlin also wrote the following introductory prayer/poem that Smith always included whenever she sang the song.

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in solemn prayer.

Both Berlin and Smith assigned the royalties for “God Bless America” to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of American in perpetuity.

This is where you would think I’d post a video of Kate Smith, but I prefer to share Irving Berlin, himself, singing “God Bless America” on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1968. Enjoy!

 

 

Research sources include:  IrvingBerlin.com (biography pages and “God Bless America” page); Wikipedia (Irving Berlin and “God Bless America” pages); the Library of Congress; The Kennedy Center; and History.com.

Song Lyric Sunday — “If I Never Got To Tell You”

Our Song Lyric Sunday host, Jim Adams, gives us this week’s theme of Brutal, Cruel, Frenzy, Savage, Violent suggested by Melanie B Cee of sparksfromacombustiblemind. Truthfully, when Jim first announced this theme a few weeks ago, my thoughts ran to chain saw killers and other equally gory, violent ideas. Not my cup of tea at all. I haven’t posted in a while, and I figured there’s no way I was going to step back into blog world with this theme. Obviously, I’ve changed my mind.

Just living life can be brutal and cruel, with or without gore. Sudden, life-changing accidents, the death of a loved one that always seems “too soon” whether death was expected imminently or not, or a medical diagnosis can all fit into this week’s theme. I’ve been thinking a lot lately of aging and dwindling mortality, of missing people and pets who have passed on, and especially of my family’s history of alzheimer’s disease — a brutal, cruel disease if ever there was one.

That was my frame of mind yesterday when, listening to the Broadway channel on Sirius, I heard “If I Never Got To Tell You” written by Gloria Estefan and her daughter, Emily Estefan, for the 2015 musical about Gloria’s life, “Get On Your Feet.” The song is a duet between the character of her mother, Gloria Fajardo, and husband, Emilio Estefan, worrying that Gloria might not survive surgery following a tour bus crash that fractured her spine. At the time of the accident, mother and daughter had been estranged for two years. The heart-wrenching lyrics make clear that both mother and husband are filled with regret and despair that they may never get the chance to tell Gloria how much she means to them.

Here’s audio of the scene from the original Broadway cast album, followed by poignant audio of Gloria’s and Emily’s duet.

 

If I Never Got to Tell You

GLORIA FAJARDO: (spoken)
Shh. It’s me. It’s Mami. I’m here.

(sung)
If I never got to tell you
There’s no way I could be prouder
Of the life that you’ve created
All the ways that you have grown

If I never got to tell you

EMILIO:
You are my life

GLORIA FAJARDO:
I would say it ever louder

EMILIO:
From the first day you were

GLORIA FAJARDO & EMILIO:
In my life you’ve been a blessing

GLORIA FAJARDO:
And I need you to know

EMILIO:
Life can change so quickly

GLORIA FAJARDO:
Don’t think that you have
All the time in the world to tell someone
The reasons that you love them

GLORIA FAJARDO & EMILIO:
With one twist of fate
All the words in your heart

GLORIA FAJARDO:
They never hear
What’s the sense in waiting?

GLORIA FAJARDO & EMILIO:
Until it’s too late to say it
Much like a game, we play it
When we choose to keep it all inside
Until it’s too late, forever
We run out of all whenevers
And this just might be our last goodbye

EMILIO:
If I never got to tell you

GLORIA FAJARDO:
If I never got to tell you

GLORIA FAJARDO & EMILIO:
All the ways you made me happy

GLORIA FAJARDO:
That the dreams you’ve been fulfilling
Are fulfilling my dreams too

EMILIO:
If I never got to tell you

GLORIA FAJARDO:
I love you so

EMILIO:
You were planned down to the moment

GLORIA FAJARDO:
If I ever hurt you

GLORIA FAJARDO & EMILIO:
You have always been the reason
For the choices I have made

EMILIO:
I thought I would have all the time in the world
To make things right
But I almost lost tomorrow
With one twist of fate
I was facing the world
Without you

GLORIA FAJARDO: (spoken)
Did you see all the red roses people sent her?

EMILIO: (spoken)
Yeah.

GLORIA FAJARDO & EMILIO: (spoken)
She hates red roses.

GLORIA FAJARDO: (spoken)
You were taking her away from me.
And I couldn’t bear the thought of losing her.

EMILIO: (spoken)
I know the feeling.

GLORIA FAJARDO:
If I never got to tell you
I regret the way things happened
In my life, each time I trusted
Was just one more time I lost
If I never got to tell you

EMILIO:
I understand

GLORIA FAJARDO:
You’re the son I always wanted

EMILIO:
I will always be here

GLORIA FAJARDO:
And though I didn’t make it easy

EMILIO:
No, you didn’t make it easy

GLORIA FAJARDO:
I have paid the higher cost

I thought I would have all the time in the world
To make things right
But I almost lost tomorrow
With one twist of fate
I was facing the world
Without you
So I’m no longer waiting

EMILIO:
I’m no longer waiting

GLORIA FAJARDO & EMILIO:
Until it’s too late to say it
Much like a game, we play it
When we choose to keep it all inside
Until it’s too late, forever
We run out of all whenevers
And this just might be our last goodbye

Before it’s too late

REPORTER: (spoken)
At this hour, pop superstar Gloria Estefan is about
To enter an extremely complex spinal fusion surgery,
Which reportedly could last as long as nine hours.
A press conference is scheduled for this evening,
At which time we should find out whether
Or not the procedure was indeed successful.

 

 

Toby

He’s been gone 3 years today. Still miss him every day.

J.E.M. Wildfire

During a massive downpour one afternoon in November of 2004, I opened my door to a scrawny little stray cat that I had been feeding. For months he had played hard-to-get. Hiding under my deck, waiting for me to leave before creeping out to eat. Gradually becoming used to me after I decided to just sit on the steps waiting for him. At some point, his hunger overcame his fear of me, and he came out to eat as long as I wasn’t TOO close to the food dish. Eventually, he came up to the deck to eat and meet my other two cats, who had decidedly different reactions to him. The big one ignored him, while the little one was VERY territorial, hissing and challenging the interloper. All that ended on that stormy afternoon when I opened the door.

Toby darted inside, ran through kitchen and family room, then…

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One Liner Wednesday — Inspirations

In today’s One Liner Wednesday post, host Linda G. Hill tells us she’s reading “Trigger Warning” by Neil Gaiman. He is one of my favorite authors, and I have saved a couple of his quotes to my Inspiration folder. Here’s one:

 

 

Note: I found this lovely depiction sometime ago, probably on Pinterest, but neglected to make note of the creator. If anyone can tell me who created this, I’d like to provide credit. More important, if you created it, please let me know, and please give me permission to use it. 💖

 

 

 

2021 A2Z Challenge — That’s A Wrap!

Like me, you probably come across all sorts of odds and ends when you research, especially in Wikipedia. This month, I came across a guy who held the Guinness Book of World Records record of the longest personal name (until Guinness discontinued the category). His 26 first names were alphabetical, and his last name told a story in German. However, he wasn’t quite consistent with his last name. The longest version is 666 letters; shortest is 32, which (I believe) was his birth surname.

He must have been quite a character. At some point, he refused to pay a utility bill because it wasn’t spelled correctly. When he was a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit, he settled the case, in part, because the players (defendant, judge, etc.) couldn’t pronounce his name. Probably couldn’t spell it, either.

Here’s his entire name, followed by the translation of his last name’s story.

“Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert Irvin John Kenneth Lloyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor William Xerxes Yancy Zeus Wolfeschlegel­steinhausen­bergerdorff­welche­vor­altern­waren­gewissenhaft­schafers­wessen­schafe­waren­wohl­gepflege­und­sorgfaltigkeit­beschutzen­vor­angreifen­durch­ihr­raubgierig­feinde­welche­vor­altern­zwolfhundert­tausend­jahres­voran­die­erscheinen­von­der­erste­erdemensch­der­raumschiff­genacht­mit­tungstein­und­sieben­iridium­elektrisch­motors­gebrauch­licht­als­sein­ursprung­von­kraft­gestart­sein­lange­fahrt­hinzwischen­sternartig­raum­auf­der­suchen­nachbarschaft­der­stern­welche­gehabt­bewohnbar­planeten­kreise­drehen­sich­und­wohin­der­neue­rasse­von­verstandig­menschlichkeit­konnte­fortpflanzen­und­sich­erfreuen­an­lebenslanglich­freude­und­ruhe­mit­nicht­ein­furcht­vor­angreifen­vor­anderer­intelligent­geschopfs­von­hinzwischen­sternartig­raum Sr.”

“…Wolfe­schlegel­stein­hausen­berger­dorff himself provided the following explanation of his prodigious surname:

‘It tells a story of a wolf-killer, a resident of a stonehouse in a village, whose ancestors were conscientious shepherds whose sheep were well fed and carefully guarded against attack by ferocious enemies and whose ancestors 1,200,000 years before the first earth man, in a space ship made with tungsten and seven iridium motors and using light as a source of power, started a long journey across interstellar space, searching for a star around which was an inhabitable planet where they could establish a new race of intelligent mankind and where they would live long, happy lives and be free from attack by other intelligentsia from the outer space from whence they came.'”