Category Archives: Music

The Lollipop that got away

Yesterday saw the passing of one of the most pioneering of child performers, Shirley Temple.

As Internet and television news outlets review her more than 80 years of accomplishments in entertainment and political life, everyone is playing and replaying the most famous clip – the cherubic actress belting out “On the Good Ship Lollipop.”

Cripes, another childhood memory:

Saint Dominic’s Catholic School, Shaker Heights, Ohio, 1968. For the school’s annual musical performance, second graders were divided into two groups. One performed “On the Good Ship Lollipop,” made famous by Shirley Temple. The other performed “Dearie.” If you remember it, then you’re much older than I. For the benefit of those who don’t, it was made famous by Ethel Merman.

Can you guess to which group I was assigned? This eight-year-old had to sing a song made famous by Ethel-freakin’-Merman.

Sorry for the outburst. The months I spent at Saint Dominic’s packed a chest of gloomy memories in the old emotional attic; that movie clip cracked the lid for a second.

The kids assigned to the Lollipop group got to wear cute, short sailor dresses and sing about bon-bons while dancing a perky little shuffle. I still remember a few of the steps. I made a point to learn them in the hopes that Sister Somebodyorother might spot my raw perkiness and switch me into the good group.

The other group did their number seated in rocking chairs, donning gray wigs and dressed in ankle-length frocks, because “Dearie” is about getting old. Not to mention the references to things no second grader would relate to. One group, lemonade stands; the other, running boards.

My father still teases me about how grumpy I was when we rehearsed, my lips pursed and eyes rolling. “Do you remember?” Yes, I remember.

On the Good Ship Lollipop

On the good ship lollipop
It’s a sweet trip to a candy shop
Where bon-bons play
On the sunny beach of Peppermint Bay

Lemonade stands everywhere
Crackerjack bands fill the air
And there you are
Happy landing on a chocolate bar

See the sugar bowl do the tootsie roll
With the big bad devil’s food cake
If you eat too much ooh ooh
You’ll awake with a tummy ache

On the good ship lollipop
It’s a night trip into bed you hop
And dream away
On the good ship lollipop

By Richard A. Whiting and Sidney Clare

Dearie

Dearie, do you remember when we
Waltzed to the Sousa band
My wasn’t the music grand

Chowder parties down by the seashore
Every Fourth of July.

My Dearie, Do you recall
when Henry Ford couldn’t even fix
the running board under a Chandler six

Dearie, life was cheery
In the good old days gone by.

Dearie, do you remember when we
Stayed up all night to get
Pittsburgh on a crystal set

Keystone movies, Coogan and Chaplin
Made you laugh and then cry

My Dearie, do you recall
When Orville Wright flew at Kitty Hawk
Take it from me, I would rather walk

Dearie, life was cheery
In the good old days gone by.

Dearie, do you remember how they
Loved Harry Lauder’s act?
My wasn’t the Palace packed

Jenny Lind presented by Barnum
Sang her sweet lullaby

Test your memory my Dearie,
Chicago all in flames sure caused a terrific row
They blamed it on Mrs. O’Leary’s cow

Dearie, life was cheery
In the good old days gone by.

Do you remember?
Yes, I remember.

Well if you remember, Dearie
You’re much older than I.

By David Mann and Bob Hilliard

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Filed under Family and Friends, Movies, Television and Radio, Music

Close but no guitar

Just got in from Nashville. Music City. Capital of Tennessee. Home of the Predators (now that I’m a hackey mam I know this), the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

I hadn’t been to the “Athens of the South” since 1990, when I attended a conference at the Opryland hotel. I didn’t see a thing then and didn’t see a thing today. Correction: I saw meeting rooms both times.

Nashville is on my husband’s bucket list. He wants to see the Ernest Tubb Record Shop. I’ve been walking the floor over someone wanting to go such a long way to buy records. Tripadvisor lists 113 things to see and do there–including the record shop.

Today I was within arm’s reach of Music Row; I passed the sign on my way to the airport. As with Elvis’ birthplace in Tupelo, I took a mental picture at 35 miles per hour.

Finally, this afternoon I managed to hear some budding country artists as they strummed and sang and sought to make it big—from the C concourse at Nashville International. I imagined Ernest Tubb getting his start right there across from Auntie Anne’s Pretzels.

So, I bring you no good stories from Nashville today–though I do have one from 1990. As I was riding to the Opryland with a colleague from Brooklyn, New York, she recounted how she had called the hotel the day before. She asked the operator, “Do you have a gym there?” The operator said, “Honey, we have thirty-five hundred people in this hotel. You’re gonna have to give me a last name.”

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Filed under Music, Travel

Moreover

When I was young my father used to tell me the story of a professor who, after a lengthy absence—perhaps years—finally returned to the classroom, and began his lecture with “However, . .” You may know the story. I failed to find it on the internets, and my father, now 81, is on the road working, and I hesitate to interrupt him.

Four months since my last blog post, I shall begin this one with “Moreover, . . .”

The Word Nymph last laid on you a tale of woe, of illness and death and, my apologies, it has hung out here like a slab of decaying flesh since Memorial Day. Anyone visiting this place has read of my husband’s and my medical mysteries, our friend in the ICU, the passing of a cousin, and other sharp stones the universe has flung in our path.

Moreover, the friend died after seven months in the ICU, while the cousin’s brother died suddenly four months later, followed by two additional losses in the same family. A friend here and there also left this place and, sadly, there are others in the queue. Moreover, my mother is struggling to recover from a terrible tumble she took in August.

If you’ve become acquainted with the people I spoke of on May 31, you’ll be happy to know that the babies born four months premature are home and healthy as of this past week. I know I am.

As for my husband and me, we’re doing better. My body is functioning at full throttle and my husband’s brain waves, according to that zany take-home EEG, are hunky-dory.

I continue to suffer from a severe case of creative writer’s block, long unsuccessful at keeping the technical and scientific writing I do in my day job from infecting the right chamber, but we’ll get back to it, I promise.

However, I do have a new concern about my husband; perhaps you have some advice.

The last two mornings, I’ve gone downstairs to find him, instead of watching the news as usual, listening to the Carpenters’ greatest hits.

By the way, I know I misused “Moreover.” I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

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Filed under Family and Friends, Health, Music

A zip of the lip

A very wise man—my late father-in-law—was known to say, “He who talks often is seldom heard.”

He also used to ask, “Is all that talking really necessary?”

For someone to whom words are a profession, a hobby, a love, even half a moniker, this Word Nymph has been thinking a lot about silence.

Perhaps it’s the time of year, or the signs appearing before me in recent days. The Sounds of Silence playing on the radio. References to the evils of loquaciousness in my daily horoscope. A favorite hymn in church yesterday, Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, stirred me to wordlessness. Message from the universe: Shut yer yap.

In my faith tradition, the upcoming season of Advent is much ado about silence. Many kick off the season with a silent retreat, followed by three weeks of quiet reflection, listening, expectation, focus outside oneself. Regardless of our traditions, this isn’t a bad discipline to follow.

Modern humans have spurred a society that abhors dead air and assaults it with voices. While others speak we are already thinking of what we will say next—and, ever impatient, we interrupt them mid-sentence with our treasured views. As a child whose report cards often reported that “Monica talks too much in class,” I plead talkative as charged.

Modern media have ignited an explosion of expression. Talk radio, talking heads, talk-talk-talk. Tap-tap-tap a 2,500-word Christmas letter and a 750-word status update.

Enough already.

It seems a good time to undertake a new social discipline. While word count is a key metric in my work as an editor, it never occurred to me that I could put it to use elsewhere. What if I followed the Twitter theory and kept my utterances to fewer than 140 characters?

As an experiment, I pledge to do my best for the rest of this year to use my words more judiciously. To the best of my ability I will:

  • Listen first, speak second. After all, there’s a reason we were given two ears and only one mouth.
  • Not feel compelled to fill silence with talking. Silence can create an opening to ideas, energy and more thoughtful words–while excessive talking can suck the energy out of the room and everyone in it.
  • Not overestimate others’ interest in what I have to say. That story, that memory, that dream I find so fascinating? Others, not so much.
  • Not consume more than my share of the airwaves, leaving plenty open for others.
  • Begin fewer sentences with I and My.

Join me, won’t you?

One final comment: Some of the most stirring renditions of Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence are the ones without lyrics.

Word Count: 439 (still too many)

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Filed under All Things Wordish, Holidays, Music

Together again

Once upon a time, more than 30 years ago, there lived three young women who attended The Catholic University of America. Late at night, when their brains buckled under the weight of René Descartes and Saint Thomas Aquinas, they turned to music to unwind.

Within the concrete walls of 109 Zimmerman Hall, the tenor voice of Jonathan Edwards soothed our worries and helped give meaning to our lives. The turntable situated between the room’s two barred windows in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, D.C., spun folk and rock inspiration from all the great modern philosophers—Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Neil Young, and, yes, Jonathan Edwards. (Not to be confused with the 18th century theologian of the same name).

Jonathan Edwards, theologian

Jonathan Edwards, musician

Jonathan Edwards’ album, Jonathan Edwards, had been in the record collection I took to college. It had come out in 1971, with just one song, “Sunshine (go away today)” having made the top 40. Everyone knows that one song, but few, I’d say, know the other 11. We played that album until there were no grooves left. Whenever the pressures of college life bore down, on us and our friends across the hall, 109 Zimmerman became our shanty.

Six of us went to see him at The Cellar Door in Georgetown in 1979 and managed to get back stage. As a friend of mine likes to say, “Buy me a glass of wine and I’ll tell you the story.”

Anyway, last Friday night, we three girls from 109 Zimmerman got together again—for a Jonathan Edwards show in Annapolis. While sipping cranberry juice, club soda and iced tea, we went back in time. We reminisced and sang. We laughed and lapped up Edwards’ stories, some of which we had heard, as others caught us up on the songwriter’s life and adventures of the last 30 years. We marveled at his still-smooth voice and his wailing harmonica, agreeing with his own characterization of his musical genre – “hard folk.”

One roomie’s husband, who graciously tolerated the reunion, picked up our dinner check.

We didn’t go backstage.

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Filed under Family and Friends, Music

Bieber peever

Dear Justin,

I love ya, kiddo. You have a sweet smile. Your music is catchy enough. You’re tight with your mama.

Since you first made the scene, your mother has been right by your side. I’ve read that she took over your schooling when you were on the road. I admire that. But you’re eighteen now. It’s time you took responsibility for your education.

I was encouraged to hear you tell the ladies on The View that you looked forward to continuing to mature and learn. You seem to be a grounded, smart, reasonably articulate young man and, quite likely, you have plenty of smart, articulate people working for you.

Here’s the thing.

It’s your new hit single, “Boyfriend.” You know, don’t you, dear, that “If I was your boyfriend” is incorrect? Not incorrect in the musically acceptable ain’t-got-no way. Incorrect in the it-sounds-right-to-me-and-anyhow-that’s-what-everybody-says way. I’m disappointed that your mother, your fellow songwriters, producers, agents and marketeers didn’t advise you to change one simple word, just to make you sound like the smart young man you probably are.

Justin, in case your lessons skipped over the subjunctive mood, or you missed my blog post on the topic, it’s not “If I was your boyfriend.” It’s “If I were…” As in “If I Were a Rich Man.” That one ought to be easy for you to remember.

When your ditty, now #11 on the Top 40 charts, comes on the radio, I change the station. When Jazzercise plays it during my leg routine, I burn extra calories by fuming over the horrid grammar.

If I were your mother, I’d take a red pen to your little opus. Okay, I’d be willing to overlook all of your colloquialisms. I’d even let you rhyme “go” with “before.” But I’d ask you set a good example for your young fans and get the big stuff right:

“Boyfriend”
Written by Mike Posner, Matthew Musto, Mason Levy (edited by the Word Nymph)

If I was were your boyfriend, I’d never let you go
I can take you places you ain’t never been before
Baby take a chance or you’ll never ever know
Ive got money in my hands that I’d really like to blow
 Swag swag swag, on you
Chillin’ by the fire why while were eatin’ fondue
I dunno about me but I know about you
So say hello to falsetto in three two

I’d like to be everything you want
Hey girl, let me talk to you

[Chorus]
If I was were your boyfriend, never let you go
Keep you on my arm girl, you’d never be alone
I can be a gentleman, anything you want
If I was were your boyfriend, I’d never let you go, I’d never let you go

Tell me what you like yeah tell me what you don’t
I could be your Buzz Lightyear flying across the globe
I don’t never wanna fight yeah, you already know
I‘ma make you shine brightly like you’re laying lying in the snow
Girlfriend, girlfriend, you could be my girlfriend
You could be my girlfriend until the —- world ends
Make you dance do a spin and a twirl and
Voice goin’ crazy on this hook like a whirlwind

I’d like to be everything you want
Hey girl, let me talk to you

[Chorus]
If I was were your boyfriend, never let you go
Keep you on my arm girl you’d never be alone
I can be a gentleman, anything you want
If I was were your boyfriend, I’d never let you go, I’d never let you go

[Bridge]
So give me a chance, ‘cause you’re all I need girl
 Spend a week wit your boy I’ll be calling you my girlfriend
If I was were your man, I’d never leave you girl
I just want to love you, and treat you right

[Chorus]
If I was were your boyfriend, never let you go
Keep you on my arm girl you’d never be alone
I can be a gentleman, anything you want
If I was were your boyfriend, I’d never let you go, never let you go

Na na na, na na na, na na na
Ya girl
 Na na na, na na na, na na na ey
 Na na na, na na na, na na na ey
 Na na na, na na na, na na na ey

If I was were your boyfriend

What?! Your mama didn’t teach you lie versus lay?

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Filed under All Things Wordish, Music

Survey says…

The recent passing of TV game show host Richard Dawson has me feeling a little Family-Feudish.

By the way, I know someone who knows someone who was once on Family Feud. Are you impressed?

You wouldn’t be impressed if I were playing.

You know it goes: Contestants are asked to “Name something that …” as they aim to match their answers with answers of others on their team, as well as with survey responses cast by the audience. If instructed to name something you would find your refrigerator, for example, you might say “milk,” knowing that might be a popular—and hence, high scoring—answer.

If I were to be truthful I’d say “a canister of 35-millimeter film,” or today, “a brick.” But then I’d likely win no points for a match.

Suppose I asked you to Name Something You Would Take on a Beach Vacation. Would you say, an umbrella, a good book, a Frisbee perhaps?

If I were playing Family Feud, perhaps I’d name those things too. But what if I were answering based solely on what I need to occupy a particular cottage, one that is perfectly situated on a beautiful beach, but is ill-equipped to handle my needs?

How many points would I earn I earn if I told you truthfully what will soon go into the trunk of my car?

  1. A specialty whisk, two knives and a cheese grater
  2. A pesto torte, along with the clay brick that makes it mmm-mm good
  3. A bottle of homemade ginger walnut salad dressing
  4. A jar of lemon curd (you never know when you’ll need one)
  5. Fresh mint, for making chilled cucumber soup
  6. Apples to Apples, Taboo and Boggle, three must-play beach cottage games
  7. A bathroom rug
  8. A sound machine, for playing my carefully constructed beach playlists
  9. A noise machine, in case the Atlantic isn’t white noise enough
  10. A large E-Z UP canopy, to shade our dune deck during Happy Hour (when we’re sipping cucumber soup, of course)

Say the game were reversed, you were packing for vacation, but you got points for unique answers.

Go!

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Filed under Food, Hearth and Home, Movies, Television and Radio, Music, Sports and Recreation, Travel