Thursday, July 1, 2010

Corpse of July.

(Had to mess with it a bit, couldn't help myself. Gotta love my graphics tablet!)

Well, dear S&P regulars, it is the Middle Month of Summer -- that bright, hot, red-white-&-blue stretch of days known as July.

We celebrate the birth of nations, the peak of seasons, the traditions, activities, toys and joys of Summer.

July seems to be a big month for birthdays; no doubt it can get pretty cold in October...

As ever, here at the Skull & Pumpkin a new month means new additions to the ol' jukebox, and this time I've got a mix of nuttiness to rival that bowl of snacks at the bar.

Now, in case any of you are really new to this thing, I always begin the jukebox with Vince Guaraldi's The Great Pumpkin Waltz, our official theme song, and ends with Darol Anger and Barbra Higbie's Pumpkintime, our official incidental music.

New this month is the classic John Phillip Sousa march that is the American Summer, Stars & Stripes Forever. Yeah, he composed it on Christmas Day in 1896, but it has become the Fourth of July for most of us. But since we're a Hallowe'eny kinda place, I thought a quirky pipe organ version would really be a swell fit. Here, organist Cameron Carpenter plays in his usual lurching, lumbering, can't-keep-time, sloppy style, and it's perfect for us.

Now, I've decided to keep the Grim Grinning Waltz from the Haunted Mansion where it is, because it's a good pipe organ complement to the Sousa piece. Also, I've kept the themes from Poltergeist and Jaws where they are -- Summer is about blockbuster family fun, and if those two movies don't define 'Summer blockbuster', I don't know what does.

Summer also means a lot of yardwork and days spent outdoors, and therefore for some it also means garden pests and critters. So I thought I'd really s-t-r-e-t-c-h the limits of relevance for this one and select a great 1942 big band piece The Mole, from Harry James & His Orchestra. It's awesome. Deal with it.

And since we're in the realm of Summer critters (see how easy this gets once you just accept the illogic?), I thought the 1985 Mike Marshall/Darol Anger piece called Dolphins would be a great addition. Two great solos in this one.

Of course, we cannot let a Fourth of July pass without a listen to Paul Simon's 1973 anthem American Tune. Some of the greatest lyrics of his career, and relevant any time we consider what it is to be an American, whether it's Independence Day, Thanksgiving, the first Tuesday in November, or even April 15th.

Enjoy the music, enjoy your holiday, enjoy your freedom.

Personally, I have a big family reunion going on so we'll all be in and out of the ol' S&P this weekend. Many cheers all around!



  1. Have a great holiday weekend!!


  2. In case you didn't get it have a great 4th and birthday!!


  3. Thanks for adding An American Tune. That one always brings tears to my eyes. Something so simply powerful in that song; its weary and hopeful at the same time. Odd coincidence: just after playing that song, I turned on the TV and our local PBS station was running a Ken Burns film about the Statue of Liberty. And guess whose American Tune was used for the opening and closing sequences?

    And what can I say about Cameron Carpenter? Wow! I have a new musical hero! His version of Stars and Stripes Frever makes him kind of like the Ed Wood of the pipe organ!

    Anywho--Happy Fourth of July to you and Yours.


  4. I think the lyric 'We come in the ages most uncertain hours, and sing an American tune' are some of the greatest lines Simon ever wrote, and some of the finest words ever written about what it means to be part of this remarkable nation. Weary and hopeful, yes indeed.

  5. For me, "American Tune" has also become the anthem of Sept 11th. It was beloved long before, of course, but has new meaning now. Weary. Hopeful. American.