It’s not easy being green. Kermit knows. So do the Irish.
Though you might not know it watching the Chicago River run green amidst all the St. Patrick’s Day weekend festivities here, it was not always a party for the Irish immigrants.
Having an Irish surname, I spent some time this week trying to imagine the tectonic forces that drove many of my ancestors to leave their green island home with not much more than the clothes on their backs and find passage to America. Famine, political upheaval and corruption – religious and otherwise – all conspired to squash the spirit of an entire People. If you still felt the need to underscore the woes of the Irish, look to the orphanages and work houses. No wonder so many of the Irish left.
And once they got here?
Slums, corruption and help-wanted ads that read “Irish need not apply”. No wonder the Irish took to singing an early version of the Blues…or in Kermits case, the Greens. So what do you do?
Like every other wave of immigrants before and after them, the Irish went to work. They took the jobs no one else wanted. They put their backs into the task of building the early railroads, dropping down deep into the West Virginian coal mines and putting up the early skyscrapers.
Everyone is Irish on St. Patty’s Day. Besides the fact that we’ll talk to anybody, there is another common chord. At one time or another, we’ve all been green. Like the early Irish, each one of us knows what it feels like to be on the outside, looking in. That’s why they call them the Blues.
Earlier this week, I was on the drive home listening an impromptu session on WFMT with Joyce DiDonato. Born and raised in Kansas, you wouldn’t know it from her surname, but her heritage is Irish through and through. And though the Grammy winning diva is in town sing Sesto in the Lyric Opera’s production of Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito, what caught my ear was her haunting rendition of ‘Oh Danny Boy‘. Not a stranger to a popular repertoire, I then learned she now ends many of her concerts with her interpretation of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’.
<< CLICK HER PIC TO THE LEFT TO LISTEN TO HER SING ON BBC.
Hearing her (of all people) sing the Judy Garland classic was hypnotizing…so much so I actually pulled over in order to listen with my full attention. As beautiful as it was, what struck me was hearing how the closing line of the lyric had changed her. Ever since she’d been a little girl, she had thought the words were sad and longing…“If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why, oh why can’t I?”
But the very first time she ever sang the song, a whole new realization fell out of the sky on her.
The words weren’t sad.
They weren’t a melancholy question.
They were an affirmation. “Why not!” Why can’t I fly like the bluebirds? No wonder they’re happy. They’re doing what they were born to do. From that moment forward, she sang the song with a defiance that seems to epitomize the best in our Human Spirits. You could hear it in her voice. Why not indeed!
So where does that leave me? Simple. My wish for you and me is that whether we are green just one day a year or blue more often than most would care to admit, do something that is you this week.
Maybe you can’t fly like the bluebirds or sing like a frog, but you can bake, or write or sing…maybe what you do best is to organize cupboards. It doesn’t matter what as long as you do it. Get up off the couch and find a beach or a library that needs someone to read to kids. Say something nice to the faceless person at 1-800-Call Somebody when you’re disputing your bill. Visit someone who’s shut-in or feeling shut-out. The world is waiting. Rainbows or not, there are places to go, people to see and while some may be green and others, feeling quite blue, none of them – not one of them, are exactly like you and can do what you do.
Me? I’m on my own way too. Much better this week, you’ll know me. How? I’ll be the one humming a little bit green and a little bit blue, my tune drifting up to somewhere over the chimney tops. See you there…
by James Taylor
While Kermit singing his breakout hit, “It’s not easy being green” or Judy Garland (and a host of others) singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” would have been the obvious thematic choices, I leave you instead with a lesser know anthem about the secrets of being you…you know, the real one. CLICK THE PIC and enjoy.
Miss Courtenay – This one’s for you and another dear heart, Purple Mary. Rock on my twisted sisters from a different mister.
“Over The Rainbow”
Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high there’s a land I heard of once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true
Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me Somewhere over the rainbow
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then oh why can’t I?
If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow why oh why can’t I?
DID YOU KNOW? “With music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg, an introductory verse of the renowned classic that was not used in the movie is often used in theatrical productions of The Wizard of Oz and is included in the piano sheet music book of songs from the film. It was also used in renditions by Frank Sinatra, Doris Day on her 1958 album Hooray For Hollywood (Vol.1),Tony Bennett on his 1961 album Tony Bennett Sings A String Of Harold Arlen, Ella Fitzgerald,Sarah Vaughan, and Norma Waterson (among others). Garland herself sang the introductory verse only once, on a 1948 radio broadcast of The Louella Parsons Show. A second bridge is also used occasionally in theatrical productions. The short reprise, deleted from the final cut of the film, uses the melody of the bridge (or “B” section). Alex Trebek, here we come!
If you didn’t click on my main frog’s pic at the top of the post, you can click on him here:
She is a five-star, Grammy Award-winning diva. Bending to box office pressures, the Metropolitan Opera now favors more bel canto repertoire for this American mezzo. Joyce DiDonato has the voice and the acting chops to gain entrance to any opera house in the world, but hasn’t (according to friends) lost her Kansas City, girl-next-door wholesomeness.
Ms. DiDonato came to WFMT for a little music and conversation on Wednesday, March 12, 2014 (4:00 PM). She is in Chicago to sing Sesto in Lyric Opera’s production of Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito.
JOSEPH McGINNISS, Sr.
(December 9, 1942 – March 10, 2014)
Joe McGinniss, author of ‘Fatal Vision’ and ‘The Selling of the President,’ dies at 71
“When he was 26, Joe McGinniss wrote “The Selling of the President 1968,” a landmark study of the uses of advertising in presidential campaigns. It stayed on bestseller lists for seven months, making Mr. McGinniss the youngest living author, up to that point, to have a No. 1 nonfiction bestseller.
At 40, he published “Fatal Vision,” a page-turning tale about Jeffrey MacDonald, an Army doctor who continued to maintain his innocence long after he was convicted of murdering his wife and two daughters…Fatal Vision” sold millions of copies, was made into an NBC miniseries and was hailed as a true-crime classic. But in later years, the book became the centerpiece of an impassioned debate about journalistic ethics, which came to overshadow Mr. McGinniss’s early reputation as one of the leading nonfiction authors of his generation.
Mr. McGinniss was 71 when he died March 10 at a hospital in Worcester, Mass. The cause was prostate cancer, his wife, Nancy Doherty, said.”
According to publisher Simon & Schuster, McGinniss lived in Massachusetts with his wife, an editor and writer. He had five children — including author Joe McGinniss Jr. — and seven grandchildren.
For a deeper read, you might want to check out an excellent commentary, “Joe McGinniss, a master of reportage, whatever the cost” by Rupert Cornwell in The Independent (Sunday 16 March 2014): http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/joe-mcginniss-a-master-of-reportage-whatever-the-cost-9194706.html
Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_McGinniss ; Post By Matt Schudel, Published: March 11 http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/joe-mcginniss-author-of-fatal-vision-and-the-selling-of-the-president-dies-at-71/2014/03/11/0e346a4c-a92d-11e3-8599-ce7295b6851c_story.html; http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/mar/12/joe-mcginniss Photo (Richard Drew/AP Photo)
WILLIAM J. GUARNERE
(April 28, 1923 – March 8, 2014)
Band of Brothers’ veteran William Guarnere dies.
(CNN) “William Guarnere, a World War II veteran popularized by the “Band of Brothers” miniseries, has died. He was 90.
Guarnere was rushed to a hospital early Saturday morning and died of a ruptured aneurism that night, his son, William Guarnere Jr., told CNN.
“He lived a good life. He traveled a lot. He pretty much did everything he could have done,” the son said Sunday.
During the war, Guarnere earned the nickname “Wild Bill.” He lost a leg trying to save a friend on the battlefield. The HBO miniseries was based on a book by Stephen E. Ambrose. It told the story of Easy Company, 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, U.S. Army. Guarnere was played by actor Frank John Hughes.
The family is planning a funeral this week in Philadelphia, where Guarnere was born and lived most of his life, his son said.”
He joined the Citizens Military Training Camp (CMTC) program during the Great Depression. Guarnere’s mother told the government her son was 17 when he was, in fact, only 15.
Sources: By Elizabeth Landers, CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/09/us/band-of-brothers-veteran-dies/index.html?iid=article_sidebar; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Guarnere Photo (Bill Harper/HBO/AP) and Bill_guarnere_506e from wikipedia biography already cited.
REUBIN O’DONOVAN ASKEW
(September 11, 1928 – March 13, 2014)
Former Gov. Reubin Askew Remembered as Politician With Extraordinary People Skills
“Askew, served as the 37th Governor of the U.S. state of Florida from 1971 to 1979. He led on tax reform, civil rights, [capital punishment] and financial transparency for public officials, maintaining an outstanding reputation for personal integrity. Askew is widely thought to have been one of the state’s best governors; in 2014 the Tampa Bay Times ranked him the second best governor in Florida history and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University rated him one of the country’s top ten governors of the 20th century…”
Brent Kallestad and Brendan Farrington (AP) write, “His eight years in office coincided with the end of the Vietnam War, Watergate and dramatic social change across the nation. He was a liberal on racial issues and pushed for an overhaul of the state’s tax laws, open government, environmental protection, ethics legislation and streamlining the courts and other governmental agencies. Askew integrated the Florida Highway Patrol, and appointed the first black in 100 years to the Florida Cabinet and the first black Supreme Court justice. He also appointed the first woman to the Cabinet and supported the Equal Rights Amendment, but Florida lawmakers failed to ratify it, a major disappointment for him.”
“…Askew married Donna Lou Harper in August 1956. They were married for more than 50 years. They have two grown children: a daughter and a son. Askew died at the age of 85 after a recent stroke.”
Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reubin_Askew ; http://www.veooz.com/news/0GzbZS1.html; http://www.wjhl.com/story/24962169/former-florida-gov-reubin-askew-diesPhoto Source by Calvin Knight The Ledger (1992) as Former Florida Gov. Reubin Askew talks about his world travels and different forms of government with students at Edgar L. Padgett Elementary in Lakeland.: http://www.theledger.com/article/20140313/NEWS/140319626?Title=Former-Gov-Reubin-Askew-Remembered-as-Politician-With-Extraordinary-People-Skills
SOURCES, PHOTO CREDITS and ATTRIBUTIONS:
Banner Coastal Redwood Forest by Eric E Photography is used with permission.
Kermit plays the greens: http://blog.theassociation.tv/blog/new-customer-acquisition-using-organic-search/forget-kermit-its-easier-being-green; chicago-river-green_1394530041: http://lentseasonimages.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/chicago-river-green_1394530041.jpg; NINA-nyt: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Irish_sentiment; Kermit Visits the Guinness Brewery: http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/ThreeTrending/news/kermit-on-tour-blog-brings-kermit-the-frog-to-dublin-29676864.html; Blue Birds Fly: http://b.vimeocdn.com/ts/417/219/41721996_640.jpg; Joyce DiDonato WFMT: http://blogs.wfmt.com/offmic/2014/03/12/joyce-didonato-in-live-impromptu/; DID YOU KNOW? Factoids: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Over_the_Rainbow; Kermit not easy being green: http://www.greenerpeople.com/forum/members/vbtroubleshooter-albums-threads-picture294-kermit.jpg
– ## –