I've gotten away for a long while from something I like to do, and that's post good little-known songs from little-known musicals. I should rectify that. And so here's my first step back.
I'm not exactly sure why this came to mind. In part because it's written by the same team that wrote the musical Purlie, which I've written about a few times -- Gary Geld and Peter Udell, And in part it's because I was listening to a Paul Robeson album today, and his recording of the song "Shenandoah." And so I tracked down my recording of this musical -- Shenandoah, which is based on the Jimmy Stewart movie of the same name, about a pacifist father who refuses to let his son fight during the Civil War, but then events are taken out of his hands.
What's odd about the show being so little-known is that it was a huge hit. It opened in 1974 and ran for 1,050 performances, that's 2-1/2 years, which is even longer than its better-known predecessor, Purlie. The show starred John Cullum, who may be best-known to TV viewers for his role as Hollingons Van Coeur in Northern Exposure. He won the Tony Award for Best Lead Actor in a musical for Shenandoah.
I should really post one of his songs from the show, but instead this is one that's always struck my fancy. It's a very simple song on the surface, just a lively kid's song basically, but I find it extremely touching as the song goes on, in part because its terrific use of harmony, which I love. The song is "What Am I Me?", sung by two little kids who are good friends -- one white, the other black, sung here by Joseph Shapiro and Chip Ford.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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