Simanaitis Says

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FREBERG’S U.S.A.

HAPPY JULY 4TH! A great way to celebrate our nation’s 237th birthday is with the satire of Stan Freberg. His two-volume CD set, Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America, Vol. 1 The Early Years and Vol. 2 The Middle Years, is listed at www.amazon.com. And it continues to delight, even after multiple listenings.

Stan

Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America, Vol. 1 The Early Years and Vol. 2 The Middle Years. Rhino Records R2 72476.

The album notes commence with “As you listen to this album, you’ll soon begin to understand why Stan Freberg flunked American History in high school.” (Alhambra, California, 1944.) Stan is still with us and makes regular appearances at venues such as San Diego Comic-Con International and Jim Svejda’s Annual New Year’s Eve Bash on KUSC.

Stan

Stan Freberg, at San Diego Comic-Con International 2009, with his wife, Hunter. Image by Dave Fayram.

The first portion, Vol. 1 The Early Years, was originally released as a Capitol LP, #SM1573, in May 1961, and later as a CD in 1989. The second portion, Vol. 2 The Middle Years, was recorded December 1995-March 1996. Photos of Freberg in the album notes span this entire period, including several in which I really respect his style of glasses.

Freberg, c. 19

Freberg, c. 1996. Image from the CD notes.

The album is actually a two-act musicial review, with the music by Billy May, 1916-2004, American composer, arranger and orchestra leader. Many of May’s arrangements for the likes of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat “King” Cole and Peggy Lee are part of The Great American Songbook (www.wp.me/p2ETap-Tl).

Here are a few of my (many) favorite bits from Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America.

A recurring theme pokes fun of the tension supposedly enhanced by the musically foreboding/ominous/dramatic “ta da.”

“What was that?”

“Uh, French horns…”

“No, I mean….”

That it’s used several times (once, appropriately, with English horns) doesn’t diminish my giggles.

There are also the problems with Columbus’s weary crew:

“Captain, there are rumblings of mutiny.”

Off mike: “Rumble, rumble, rumble. Mutiny, mutiny, mutiny.”

“Stop that rumbling down there!”

Off mike, diminishing: “Rumble, rumble. Rumble….”

Full disclosure: This is satire, and not always politically correct. The Puritans sing “Take an Indian to lunch this week/Show him we’re a regular bunch this week/Show him we’re as liberal as can be/Let him know he’s almost as good as we.” Refrain: “Two, four, six, eight; who do we tolerate? Indians, Indians, rah! rah! rah!”

Later, businessman Ben Franklin is offered the Declaration of Independence by radical Tom Jefferson. Franklin, lapsing in and out of Farmers’ Almanac one-liners, is reluctant and he sings “A Man Can’t Be Too Careful What He Signs These Days.”

“You’re sure it’s not going to start a revolution or anything?”

“Trust me.”

Freberg

Freberg, c. 1996. Image from the CD.

Ending Vol. 1 is a resounding “So long, friend/We have come to the end/Of the battle that we all deplore/That highly military/Script by Dore Schary/Revolutionary War.”

Dore Schary? He had been a controversial head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios. His ousting on Thanksgiving Day, 1956, was not inappropriate, one actress noted, because he was such a turkey.

And what else rhymes with “revolutionary”? ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2013

One comment on “FREBERG’S U.S.A.

  1. Clyde McConnell
    March 4, 2014

    I can still remember the evening ca. 1955 that Stan Freberg visited (gratis, I’m certain) my Cub Scout meeting (he lived in my neighborhood in LA) and brought along Cecil, an early and still unsurpassed sock puppet.

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This entry was posted on July 4, 2013 by in And Furthermore... and tagged .
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