Thursday, June 12, 2008

Corny as Kansas in August.

Here's a charming bit of Mitchell family arcana. We're watching Great Performances; a concert setting of South Pacific, taped in 2005 at Carnegie Hall. The orchestra's great; Brian Stokes Mitchell's accent is clearly very hard work. I guess Reba McIntyre is an obvious choice for Nelly, but her vocal habits are already on my nerves, and we're only 2 songs in.)

But that's because of Mary Martin. I have a soft spot for South Pacific, though I've never worked on a production. My mother had the Broadway cast album - along with Oklahoma, Carousel, Guys and Dolls and of course my very most favorite musical: Kiss Me, Kate.

My mother became a newspaper editor in 1950. At some point after that, she decided that she needed to get serious about improving her two-index-finger typing. And so my mother, a single woman in her mid-20s, a business owner, living in a boarding house across the street from the newspaper office, spent her evenings sitting in front of the hifi, typing and typing - taking dictation from Mary Martin and Enzio Pinza. So my mom's cast albums all had these homemade liner notes. Not without typos.

So when I hear "Some Enchanted Evening" or "Nothin' Like a Dame", what I see in my head is sheets of soft, yellowing newsprint. I see lines of typing - occasionally corrected in soft pencil marks - with the dot on the i punching all the way through the paper.

And today, for the first time in at least 30 years, I wonder where those albums are, with their handtyped lyric sheets carefully slid in beside the paper liner, inside the cardboard foldout.


Anonymous said...

I have this album, I inherited my dad's LPs. Love the covers.

Alexander D. Mitchell IV said...

I never saw the hand-typed lyrics sheets to which you refer, but I just might still have in MY stacks the original soundtrack LP of "The Sound of Music"--featuring Mary Martin, of course. And they did look at me strangely in high school when I was more than familiar with the two songs they expurgated from the cinema version with Julie Andrews: "How Can Love Survive?" and "No Way to Stop It"!