The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Stacks o' Wax #10


Peter Pan with Jean Arthur and Boris Karloff (Columbia Records)

Although I believe there is no filmed performance of Boris Karloff playing Captain Hook, there is this recorded version, with the added bonus of the great Jean Arthur doing a Mary Martin as the original lost boy. As they do every week, the folks at kiddierecords.com have posted the audio from this double 78 r.p.m. disc set, along with all the graphics and even the label. You can just download the audio, or get a torrent .zip file with the whole shooting match.

Other recent postings include The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins (read by Paul Wing) and The Great Gildersleeve reading Hansel and Gretel and The Brave Little Tailor.

And, if you keep an eye on the site in the next couple of weeks, you'll get to hear Gloria Swanson doing Joey the Jeep. As she might say, viewing the state of recorded music today, "I AM big...it's the discs that got small."

4 comments :

Tom Sutpen said...

Amazing. This is from 1952, right? Because unless there was another recording with that cast, they've completely left off Leonard Bernstein, who contributed to the score. I had this for years in an LP edition (I was a Bernstein freak for awhile), and his name was as prominent as anyone's on the cover.

Still, I echo your sentiments: Download this, folks. Along with almost everything else on kiddierecords.com it's well worth it. These are mementos of a time when Children's entertainment had its own measure of cool. And that is not something to be dismissed lightly.

swac said...

This version has an "incidental music by Alec Wilder" credit, as well as a music conducted by "Ben Steinberg" It doesn't seem as if Bernstein is involved, unless they took the vocal tracks and added new music when it came out on LP, for the sake of Hi-Fidelity (which isn't entirely out of the question).

Tom Sutpen said...

In the LP I had, every credit was the same (Wilder, etc) with the exception of Leonard Bernstein's contribution. Since he always maintained good relations with Goddard Lieberson and Columbia Records, it makes for a bit of a mystery.

Now that I think of it, why don't I take my own advice, download the thing and see if it's the same recording.

Stay tuned!

Tom Sutpen said...

Okay. Here's the story: This recording from 1949 was apparently the basis for a Broadway Musical in 1950, the music and lyrics for which were indeed written by Leonard Bernstein (though some of Alec Wilder's incidental score from the 78rpm recording was retained for the stage). It ran for 330 performances and has been sporadically revived (God help us . . . I hate revivals of this stuff).

The LP I've been making reference to was marketed as an Original Cast recording of the Broadway production; though unlike every other Original Cast thingmajig, Columbia essentially retooled the 1949 recording, expanding it with Bernstein's songs. And that, like they say, is that.

Well . . . that was fun.