Before I get to today's song-poem, I want to acknowledge this Friday which is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Pete Seeger. I consider Pete to have possessed the greatest voice ever recorded, and I also consider him to be the most important American musician of the 20th Century, when one takes into account his musical, political and social endeavors as a whole. Yes, I can argue this point thoroughly, no, I'm not interested in doing so here.
But I did want to acknowledge the date, and also add that, on my other blog, "inches-per-second", I have featured an impossibly rare live recording of Pete Seeger with the Weavers, from January of 1958
My poet Mae Burdette had thoughts about just these issues in 1968, and sent them to Sterling records (the date can be fairly well nailed down by the label number, along with the known dates of other Sterling releases (although it's possible this comes from 1969 - the issues, of course, had not changed in the six month swing around which this record may have been made).
You'll notice that I didn't describe the writer of "Leader Wanted" as a "song-poet", but rather just as a "poet". As you'll soon here, for whatever reason, Lew Tobin (of Sterling Records) made no attempt to have Ms. Burdette's lyrics set to a tune, but rather, had Norm Burns recite them over a music bed. I guess it's possible the author asked for this - if not, I suspect Sterling would have had a complaint on their hands. But it's hard to say why - the lines rhyme and certainly would not have been beyond (or close to it) setting to music.
I guess we'll never know. And I'm not suggesting that the majority of this is anything more than boilerplate speechifying. And Norm's stilted reading doesn't help, either. But it is worth listening to, and reflecting on how much of this could be said (or sung) by someone today with barely a changed syllable.
Download: Norm Burns - Leader Wanted
On the flip side, we're in supper-club territory, with Norm Burns (again) warbling "Moonlight On the Water" over a modified cha-cha beat. Like the flip side, this is almost three and a half minutes long, an eternity for a song-poem, extended here by a lengthy solo section.
Download: Norm Burns - Moonlight On the Water
Finally, I wanted to share a link to Sammy Reed's page. He recently posted a couple of Halmark songs which use the same backing track as "Life is a Flame", which I (long ago) provided to the ASPMA's MP3 page, and which is a track on the first song poem record I ever owned, long before I knew what it was (like, 1975). In the previous post, Sammy posted an entire Hollywood Artists LP. You can find his site here.