Hi everyone. Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing. But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?
(Image found online. Original source unknown.)
I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.
Today in 1968 The Beatles song, “Hey Jude”, hit the #1 spot in America where it stayed for nine consecutive weeks. Their success in this country began with their first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on February 9, 1964. Coincidentally, today marks the 119th birth anniversary of the host of that show. Edward Vincent Sullivan, who was born in Harlem, NY today in 1901, is undoubtedly best known for that Sunday night variety show which ran for an astonishing 23 years from 1948 until 1971. It remains the longest running variety show in US broadcast history.
Sullivan was raised in Port Chester, NY and began his career writing about sports for a local paper while he was still in high school. His career in print media continued after he graduated, first as a sports reporter then as that department’s editor for The Evening Graphic in 1927. Two years later he was given the slot as Broadway columnist to replace departing writer Walter Winchell. But then Sullivan moved to The New York Daily News which was a tabloid paper at the time. He wrote a column, “Little Old New York”, which was still focused on Broadway happenings but also included celebrity & local gossip. By 1933 he appeared in a film he wrote, “Mr. Broadway”, where he went to several NYC hotspots to meet various entertainers and celebrities. This led to his 1941 variety radio show, “Summer Silver Theater”, because throughout his years as a writer, Sullivan was also active as a producer and director in that medium & vaudeville shows. By 1948 Sullivan was hired by CBS to host “Toast Of The Town”, the weekly variety program that would go on to turn him into the legendary host he became.
In an interview about The Doors 1967 appearance on that show, Ray Manzarek said Sullivan “was like Barnum & Bailey. He presented the greatest show on television. You could see everybody……..you would always see a rock & roll band”. Well, it was not just that type of music you would see on that ground breaking program. Nearly every genre of musical artist appeared on the show: Motown, soul, R&B, country, Americana, jazz, standards, big band, swing, classical & anything else you can imagine. YouTube has a station devoted to hundreds of the Sullivan show performances, and not just the musical ones. You can see comediennes, skits, acrobatic acts and many others. There is even a clip from 1970 where Coretta Scott King introduces two of her husband’s taped speeches, “I Have A Dream” & his last public one in Memphis where he spoke about threats against him before he uttered these heartbreaking words: “Like anybody I would like to live a long life”. That is just one example of how diverse and progressive Sullivan’s show was.
It featured women entertainers when they were still considered homemakers only. It presented all types of music during the changing times of the turbulent 1960’s and people of all different races who were only looked at for their ability to entertain the audience and nothing more. That was all Sullivan, who never saw race or gender at a time when the world was focused on it. He only saw variety and shared it with the world. No wonder he was dubbed “The Starmaker”.
Initially I thought I would never be able to choose one performance from the Sullivan show to commemorate his birth anniversary given how many there are to pick from. But then I saw the clip of today’s song and suddenly the choice was clear. My parents loved The Bee Gees and I inherited that feeling for all their older music (read: their music BEFORE the infamous disco era). My mother’s favorite song of theirs was “How Do You Mend A Broken Heart” but the group did not perform that one on the Sullivan show. So I chose one of the songs they did sing in 1968. It features Barry on vocals alone sans beard, Maurice on bass, Robin on piano and about a dozen string players. And since tomorrow, September 29, marks what would have been my mothers 81st birthday, I thought this beautiful song was a great way to honor her, too.
“You think that I don’t even mean
A single word I say
It’s only words and words are all I have
To take your heart away“.
Top (L-R): Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Ed Sullivan, John Lennon & Paul McCartney from their appearance in February 1964. Bottom (L-R): Robin Gibb (piano), Vince Melouney (guitar), Colin Petersen (drums), Maurice Gibb (Bass) and center, Barry Gibb (vocals) at their March 1968 performance. (Images found online. Original sources unknown.)
The Bee Gees: “Words” (Performed live on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on March 17, 1968. Written by Barry, Maurice & Robin Gibb).
I do not own the rights to anything. I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.