(cover image courtesy Wikipedia)
But why should I tell you how great the man was? Let the man speak for himself!
Rest in peace, Chuck,
Would it be too much to call 9/11 the defining event of the early 21st century?
Perhaps, in that other events of the last decade, like the “Great Recession” of 2008, or the election of Barack Obama – and Donald Trump – can be seen as coming from movements and forces in play long before that September morning.
But that moment – and how America chose to respond to it – defined so much of what came after. We went to war supposedly to overthrow governments we accused of developing weapons of mass destruction, of harboring and supporting terrorists; to find how terrorism flourishes in the absence of governments willing and able to keep order. What was meant to be a quick demonstration of American power and resolve became what is now “The Long War.”
Drone strikes and expanded Government surveillance powers have become a point of controversy – are they unfortunate but necessary tools to fight terrorism, or a betrayal of American core values (or are they both?) Even the fear of Muslims and the feeling America has somehow become weaker as it became more inclusive that played such a part in the last election – it all goes back to that September morning.
I began work on what would become The 9/11 Project shortly after the attacks first as a way of dealing with my feelings of shock and grief. From over a hundred songs that would come over the next ten years I selected thirty-three to at first become a three-part album; but the songs suggested a story – or more accurately, a story of stories, stories of ordinary Americans living and fighting in that roller-coaster of a decade – that would become a three-act musical play, and now this latest iteration. As always, my “mission” with this Project is to inspire Americans to spare some thought, to care what those who go to war go through on their behalf, beyond the usual patriotism and platitudes.
In this latest edition I cut the songs to three but kept all the emotional impact. It’s meant to be easier for school, college, smaller professional and amateur groups to produce. Later this year I want to offer a compete soundtrack for the 9/11 Project.
My current goal is to reach out to theater groups across the country, looking to find some that would help me finally bring this story to the stage. The 9/11 Project is currently for sale here and on Amazon; but if you’re with a legitimate theater group, please contact me for more information.
NOTE: The 9/11 Project script does not come with either production or photocopy rights. For those, you will need to contact me.
I now return you to your regularly scheduled history, LOL.
There’s been so much happening in the world today—the terrorist attacks on Turkey and Iraq, the death of Nobel-winning author Elie Wiesel—but hey, it’s Independence Day! And I want to write about good stuff today. So this week I’m writing about fireworks shows—or the music you’re likely to hear at these shows.
Almost every fireworks show I’ve been to, they play either John Phillips Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever”, or Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.” I’m sure you’ve heard both, even if you don’t recognize the names. You can listen to “Stars and Stripes” here, and the “1812 Overture” here. Both have fascinating stories behind them.
If you’re composing a short list of America’s most influential artists of any kind, John Phillips Sousa has to be near the top. He was the greatest leader the U.S. Marine Corps Band had ever had, and a prolific composer, creating over 400 musical works of various types, including seven operettas (short operas). Most people, though, know him for his marching music—137 of his works were marches, two becoming the official songs of the Army (adapted from “U.S. Field Artillery”) and the Marine Corps–“Semper Fidelis.”
Ever watch Monty Python’s Flying Circus? Remember the theme music? That’s Sousa’s “Liberty Bell.”
In 1987—55 years after Sousa’s death—Congress passed a law making Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” the Official March of the United States.
The thing about the Overture? It wasn’t composed by an American. It wasn’t inspired by any event in American history, let alone the War of 1812. It wasn’t even composed in 1812. It had nothing to do with America or American history—and America fell in love with it anyway.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was a contemporary of Sousa, but that’s about all they had in common. Tchaikovsky composed the 1812 Overture in 1880 to celebrate his own nation’s—Russia’s—fight against the French Grande Armee as Napoleon tried to conquer Russia. More specifically, it was inspired by the Battle of Borodino; a heroic last stand against Napoleon’s forces—which the Russians lost!
But while Napoleon won this battle, he would lose the war. The French took massive casualties that day—too massive. The French had used up most of their supplies and had stretched their supply lines beyond their limit. The retreating Russians made sure to leave nothing behind the French could use, even burning down parts of Moscow. And winter was coming. It is not for nothing Russians credit so many military victories to “General Mud” and “Field Marshall Winter.”
In the end Napoleon was forced to retreat—in winter, ravaged by typhus, and harrassed all the way by Cossacks. By the time they got back to Poland, Napoleon’s Grande Armee had been reduced to a tenth of its pre-Invasion numbers. This was the beginning of the end for Napoleon; though they lost battle after battle, the Russians proved Napoleon was not invincible. In time, Napoleon’s “allies” would turn on him, and destroy his empire.
OK, enough of the history lesson. I love a good fireworks show, and the best are those set up by professionals—with good food, and great music! Here’s a list of fireworks shows this weekend by date! Hope to see you there!
Another rock icon gone too soon. Tony made up a picture in his honor.
Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016), RIP.