More On Allan Sherman

Before Allan Sherman made his hit recording, my son, the folk singer, he made a private recording, My Fair Lady.  This recording was produced by Associated Recording Studios with a blue and white label that had only one side.  It has the greatest number of Yiddish references of all Sherman’s recordings, which might make it difficult for some to understand.  It is a satire of the famous musical, My Fair Lady, and lasts about twenty minutes.  Here Eliza, the flower seller, speaks English so perfectly that she can’t be understood by the Brooklyn natives.  In order to speak correctly, she needs the help of a Jewish owner of a candy store and learn about “Jewish things.”  The owner tells Eliza:  “You’ll trouble, dalink, is you’ve got a speech imperiment.”  As is common for Allan Sherman, there are the usual mangled words, i.e. “I’ve got the customers to face.”  However, unlike the majority of Sherman’s works, which feature individual lyrics(the exception is Peter and the Comissar), My Fair Lady tells a story, and quite an amusing one at that.

W.S. Gilbert And Politics

W.S. Gilbert satirized the political process in several of his operettas.  However, perhaps his most effective and comical political satire occurs in Iolanthe, performed in 1882.   The song When all night long, sung by Private Willis, a sentry standing outside Westminster Hall at the beginning of Act 2, remains as pertinent today as in 1882.  The lyric mentions M.P.s(members of parliament), but it could refer easily to members of the American Congress and the present stalemate.

Many wonderful singers have interpreted the song.  My favorite is Sydney Granville’s rendition on a Victor Recording from the late 1920s.  However, one could choose several others.  It must be mentioned that Sullivan’s solemn, almost regal music, which precedes the lyric, adds to the satire. Click on the link below, listen, and enjoy!

When all night long a chap remains

On sentry-go to chase monotony

He exercises of his brains,

That is, assuming that he’s got any.

Though never nurtured in the lap

Of luxury, yet I admonish you, I am an intellectual chap,

And think of things that would astonish you.

I often think it’s comical–Fal,la, la!  Fal, la la!

How Nature always does contrive–Fal,la, la!

That every boy and every gal

That’s born into the world alive

Is either a little Liberal

Or else a little Conservative

Fal,la, la!

When in that house M.P.’s divide,

If they’ve a brain and cerebellum, too.

They’ve got to leave that brain outside,

And vote just as their leaders tell’em to.

But then the prospect of a lot

Of dull M.P.’s in close proximity,

All thinking for themselves, is what

No man can face with equanimity.

Then let’s rejoice with loud Fal la–Fal lal la!  Fal la la!

That Nature always does contrive–Fal lal la!

That every boy and every gal

That’s born into the world alive,

Is either a little Liberal

Or else a little Conservative!

Fal la la!When All Night Long

Remembering Killian E. Bensusan

In remembering Killian E. Bensusan, an Australian miner and teacher of mineralogy, I’m reminded of my life as a young teenager.  The year was 1966, and as a birthday gift I received money to attend an informal course on minerals given by Mr. Bensusan.  My cousin Gregg Turner, although only ten, also attended.  The class took place in Killian’s backyard and he had several adult students in addition to us.  Killian had worked in mines with John Grieger, about whom there is a generous article in The Mineralogical Record.  Grieger opened up a store in Pasadena that brought a note of disdain from Mr. Bensusan:”He’s gone commercial.  Not a real miner or mineral student anymore.”  Killian was always known for his frankness and strong opinions.  His features were rough, and one could tell he had a hard life in the mines.  However, during the class, he seemed to sparkle, telling us about nearby localities that offered colorful minerals.  He said that Howlite, a soft mineral, could only be found near Palmdale in Southern California.  He regaled us with his own mineral adventures, and I remember that I enjoyed the class very much.  For our “final exam”, Killian had put a number of different minerals on a table for us to identify.  I recall that Gregg and I did quite well as we had mineral collections of our own.  After we completed the course, we were given a small card, stating we had completed his course successfully.  I found that card recently in a drawer in the back room of our house.  When I looked at it, the memories of this special time returned, and I am truly grateful for having had the opportunity to meet this interesting man.

Note:  He also gave me a small watermelon tourmaline, an aquamarine crystal and a morganite(pink form of beryl) as gifts.