1776: Original Broadway Cast Recording
This is music that I really want to lay out here before the July season passes. The splendid and stirring original cast recording of 1776 that starred William Daniels, Paul Hecht, Clifford David, Roy Poole, Rex Everhart and Ken Howard. I know that Daniels went on to TV’s ‘St. Elsewhere’ and Howard was later TV’s ‘The White Shadow’. Lyrics and music both by Sherman Edwards. In the debut year of 1969, 1776 beat out Hair for the Tony award!
Very appropriate music for this particular month, but something that I play at least two or three times a year. I can’t tell you exactly why I love it so, but you know what I mean when I say that there are certain pieces of music that you love that not every one else knows. And, especially if you love going to musical plays, you know the rush of being almost involved from the audience.
A quick thought – I’ve seen (many times) the movie version, but it doesn’t really get it right. The music is still fantastic though! As always, click on the pictures for the original sizing. You see a few great shots of the action.
But, Mr. Adams
John Adams is portrayed as the irascible force behind getting the Declaration of Independence written. He was actually one of the main driving forces behind getting the damn document put down to pen. Eventually the primary architect of this remarkable piece of parchment ended up being Thomas Jefferson who wrote it in only 17 days!
This song has Sam Adams going from representative to representative trying to goad them – anyone! - into finally writing it. However, their witty repartees begin to corner him. A thoroughly enjoyable and jaunty tune!
(Thomas Jefferson singing his reply back to Mr. Adams)
Mr. Adams, damn you Mr. Adams.
You’re obnoxious and disliked; that cannot be denied.
Once again you stand between me and my lovely bride.
Oh, Mr. Adams, you are driving me to homicide!
Mama Look Sharp
Very few songs can make me well up in tears - “If I Were Your Woman” by Gladys Knight, “Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)” by Melanie and the original recording of “And I Am Telling You” from ‘Dream Girls all rapidly come to mind. “Mama Look Sharp” easily ranks with those above.
This is told from the point of view of a soldier (a courier of General Washington with only servants to listen) who has seen his friends shot on the battlefield. The second half has his friends singing tenderly of how they’ll bury him. I’ve heard it said that even grown men whisper for Mom as they die in combat. This vividly paints the personal emotional burden of youth violently extinguished - a stingingly poignant and deeply emotional song of the loss of life during war. And, he’s singing to his Mother to come see him before he dies.
Them soldiers they fired,
Oh Ma did we run!
But then we turned round,
And the battle begun.
Then I went under,
Oh Ma, am I done!
Hey, hey, Mama look sharp.
My eyes are wide open,
My faith to the sky.
Is that you I’m hearin’,
In the tall grass nearby?
Mama come find me before I do die!
Hey, hey, Mama look sharp.
Is Anybody There?
After the final document is written, changes are made. Changes by the score. Not much different from what happens with legislation even today. But, what is pissing off Adams this time is the ‘watering down to please everybody’ frenzy. Especially when language is taken out that outlaws slavery. He sees the bar being lowered a degree at a time and is filled with rage and anguish. Thinking on this, I am always amazed at how towering the bar stands now – imagine how unattainably lofty it must have been in its original state?
They want me to quit; they say
John, give up the fight.
Still to England I say
Good night, forever, goodnight!
For I have crossed the Rubicon
Let the bridge be burned behind me
Come what may, come what may!
Is anybody there? Does anybody care?
Does anybody see what I see?
But, Mr. Adams (10)
Mama Look Sharp (12)
Is Anybody There? (10)
From: 1776 - Original Broadway Cast Recording
Addendum: I want to yell to everyone about the great Jazz mix over at Fufu Stew. He continues to WOW me with his tracks, but this one really has me bouncing on the way to and from work these last few days.