Friday, July 4, 2008

hotter than july

"flag" by jasper johns, 1954-55.

Released in 1960, the soundtrack to Leonard Bernstein & Stephen Sondheim's smash "West Side Story" - originally launched on Broadway in 1957 - spent an unprecedented 54 weeks at #1 on Billboard's album charts, giving it the longest run on the top spot of
any album in recording history.

It was the only musical I could stand to watch as a pre-adolescent.

The newsagents at the top of the street where I sometimes spent weekends with my cousins and aunt and uncle was called "Broadway". Any hint of reflected glamour it may once have clung to had long since vacated. Even the boxes of continental chocolates on the long shelves were by then covered in a fine film of dust.

RITA MORENO & GEORGE CHAKIRIS: AMERICA from "West Side Story" LP (columbia) 1961 (US)



Mike said...

Westside! Daring post, ib. I don't even know if West Side Story is still an American classic. I don't have a TV, but still I feel like it is fading from our immediate memory. Gangs are more organized now. Bigger. That makes WSS too unbelievable to resonate with the American experience. Have you seen "The Wire"?

Mike said...

PS - Johns is the bomb.

Unknown said...

Wowie! Got an U.S. flag and a song called "America" up one minute into July 4th. Good show.

I think my father has a copy of West Side Story lying around... might have to see if I can borrow it from him. I liked this song, and like the other song I've heard from it, "Someday."

ib said...

Mike: You don't have a TV ? Kudos! I have gone without for protracted (and usually productive) periods, but have always caved-in ultimately to put one back high on the agenda.

One time, many marquee moons ago, when I was temporarily living in a hostel - read "homeless shelter" - I walked six and a half miles from the train station there cradling an old b&w set. Seriously.

West Side Story does appear to be fading from the hive consciousness, more's the pity, and is definitely more of a camp cause de celebre than a social document, but it's a great film... Everybody should own a copy of the soundtrack, I feel.

Or at least a few songs from it.

I haven't seen "The Wire", nor heard of it - but that's no surprise, given how out of whack with cultural developments I tend to be.

Glad you dig the Johns, dude.

ib said...

Ha, matt, you noticed!!!

I got bored watching TV and was sitting in front of the monitor waiting for 12 midnight to roll around.

Borrow that album of your dad's. "Somewhere" - besides being another standout WSS song - was also a hit by P.J. Proby in '64, and was covered by Tom Waits too on "Blue Valentine", I think.

Happy 4th of July! Does that mean you all get a national holiday, or what ?