Sunday, July 3, 2022

Awesome Audio (Freedom of the Press Edition)

  


The overturn of Roe vs Wade, and the prospect it raises that all the rest of our constitutionally protected rights and liberties are temporary and can be rescinded at a 6-3 Supreme Court moment's notice, has not left me in a very patriotic mood this Fourth of July weekend. However, seeing as I get tomorrow off, I should at least try to get into the spirit of things. To that end I've turned to the man pictured above for some guidance. First generation American (father born in Spain, mother in Bavaria) John Philip Sousa wrote a number of musical compositions that we've come to regard as patriotic standards--as well as mainstays at high school pep rallies and high school football halftime shows across the land. I've chosen one of those immediately recognizable standards for you all to listen to, but before I do, here's what I found out. This melody originally was meant not to glorify America, secondary education, nor a domestic reboot of rugby, but rather...

   

...a newspaper! In a spirit of journalistic bipartisanship, former Republican Postmaster General Frank Hatton and former Democratic Congressman from Ohio Beriah Wilkins bought the 12-year-old Washington Post in 1889 and needed some way to promote it. So they beseeched Sousa, at the time the conductor of the United States Marine Band (nicknamed "The President's Own") to come up with a march, and he did just that. The composition was immediately popular both here and in Europe, making Sousa a transatlantic celebrity, and earning him the nickname the American March King. Whether all this led to more newspaper subscriptions I can't tell you, except to say there still is a Washington Post, though at this late date you may associate the paper's namesake march more with fireworks and varsity sports than with Woodward and Bernstein. Have a listen: 

Brings you back, huh? All we need now is a cheerleaders' pyramid.

 


Meh. Try again.



 There, girls, that's more like it!
 

It just so happens that today is the late clarinetist Pete Fountain's birthday. And if that wasn't just so happening enough, it also just so happens that he once put out his own New Orleans Dixieland version of Sousa's venerable tune. Put on your Mardi Gras masks and listen: 

 
 
 
 So which version of "The Washington Post March" is better?



You'll have to ask him.

 

14 comments:

  1. Hi, Kirk!

    Happy 92nd birthday in heaven to jazz clarinet star Pete Fountain. I well remember Pete and his music. He was a familiar guest on TV music variety shows I watched. Pete released over 100 Dixieland and instrumental pop albums and CDs. Four of his singles made the Billboard Hot 100 while double that number made the Cash Box chart. Three of Pete's singles cracked the top 30 on the Adult Contemporary aka Easy Listening chart.

    Thanks for the history lesson letting us know that the famous march we hear so often, the one by American March King John Philip Sousa, is not a tribute to America and all its glorious greatness, but rather was originally composed to promote the Washington Post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shady, I'm not an expert on jazz, but I have heard Fountain from time to time, and do like the Dixieland form of the music (when it's pointed out to me its Dixieland.) Here's an odd fact about the clarinet star: in the 1950s he spent two years on The Lawrence Welk Show, where he was known for his solos. According to Fountain, he left Welk because "champagne and bourbon don't mix."

      Delete
  2. It took me a few seconds. Souza..music, marches. Souza March music. The original is my preference. It is quite uplifting and cheering.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's all right if it took you a few seconds, Andrew. It's been a long time since Souza charted.

      Delete
    2. That's Sousa, with a S.

      Delete
  3. The Dixieland version has more swing, baby! But the original is catchy too. Thanks for the info behind this and about Sousa.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Debra, for I guess it depends on the venue. If I'm at a jazz festival, I wouldn't expect anyone to play The Washington Post March in its original arrangement. But a bunch of veterans marching around the town square? Then jazz might be the wrong choice (unless the town square is in New Orleans)

    But John Philip Sousa is a more adaptable composer than most people realize. Here's a number from 1893 titled "The Liberty Bell", but you may associate it more with a belly laugh:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AxiATxLofk

    ReplyDelete
  5. Who would have thought it was to celebrate a newspaper.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. JM, since newspapers are quickly becoming instinct, perhaps we could use a march for The Huffington Post or The Daily Beast.

      Delete
  6. Hope you had a good one and enjoyed your day off! 4th July :-D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ananka, the Fourth of July was going well until I re-read my reply to JM. Instinct. Sheesh!

      Delete
  7. Looks like I'm right with everyone else not knowing about the association the song has with the newspaper.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mike, I didn't know either, but when I come across a surprising fact, I like to share it.

      Delete

In order to keep the hucksters, humbugs, scoundrels, psychos, morons, and last but not least, artificial intelligentsia at bay, I have decided to turn on comment moderation. On the plus side, I've gotten rid of the word verification.