Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sing a Song of Seven Hills

By Chet Williamson  

"When You're Smiling" by Joe Goodwin
An Introduction

In researching this project, I was struck by how many of these songs were embedded in my memory bank -- not necessarily full-blown melodies and lyrics, more like a phrase that grabs the ear and beckons you to whistle, a section of a song that forces you react by singing along, a snippet that welcomes you to smile, a line that stops you in your hi-tops and compels you shout, “I know that! I remember where I was when I first heard that tune.”

"Sweet and Lovely" by Harry Tobias

To find out that the hit I was humming was actually written by someone from Worcester -- well, that is a startling thought. To think, that the scruffy man sitting across from me at the counter at the Kenmore Diner -- scribbling away in his notebook -- may have been writing one of these timeless pieces. Whew! 

It is doubly disconcerting to know that I’m not the only one who has overlooked these songwriters and their work.

"Good Morning Heartache" by Irene Higginbotham

A Billie Signature ... 

     I'm not talking about songs that only his mother heard, or friends and neighbors caught blaring from the garage band next door, or even audiences in neighborhood bars. These are larger than life tomes that have been sung around the world. They are songs that people across the country dance to from Portland to Orlando, from Boston to Seattle. These are the songs that were set as background for first dates and marriage proposals. These are the ones that people rose to in the morning light, played on their car radios, and AM transistors at work. These are the melodies mothers sang to their children. These are songs that were heard in the soldiers’ brains just as loud as incoming bombardment.

"Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" by Charlie Tobias

Consider: “When You’re Smiling, “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree,” “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart,” and “I May Be Wrong, But I Think You’re Wonderful.” 

Consider that they were written by a kid from Grafton Hill, another from Pleasant Street, and a trio of brothers from Harrison Street, homegrown talent from Worcester.  

The Andrews Sisters Swinging Plea ...


 Then contemplate that they were sung by the likes of Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan and you realize how special and significant the contributions have been.

"I May Be Wrong, But I Think You're Wonderful" by Henry  Sullivan

These songs were all-occasion songs written for birthdays and wakes, for weddings and holidays, for political rallies and sporting events, for Broadway musicals and theater productions, for jingles, radio, television, and film -- another words, the soundtrack of our lives.

America's First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald

"I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart" by John Redmond
Consider: “Sweet and Lovely,” “When Your Lover Has Gone, and “Good Morning Heartache.” 

These are songs, written by Worcester songwriters that the world has sung for generations. Their legacy is enduring, life-affirming, and most worthy. The songs are now classics. They are American standards and they are from Worcester

"When Your Love Has Gone" by E.A. Swan

The Impeccable Maxine Sullivan Sings This Soulful Ballad

This is a work in progress. Comments, corrections, and suggestions are always welcome. Also see:  -- Thank you, Chet

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