You Gotta Know The Territory
March 24, 2020 9:19 PM   Subscribe

"Rock Island", the opening number from The Music Man, as performed by Grace Spelman (via Instagram).

Grace Spelman previously and previouslier on MeFi.
posted by mhum (21 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
It's the originating rap song, like, ever!

(Probably not, but it's a very early example.)
posted by hippybear at 9:21 PM on March 24 [4 favorites]

Also, this video is great.

I once freaked out an entire room of people who had this movie on TCM in the background and the song started and I rapped along with the entire thing. It was a combination of impressed and wow-that-was-weird that I had never experienced before. I was in my 40s when this happened. I thought everyone knew this musical.
posted by hippybear at 9:23 PM on March 24 [7 favorites]

It's sort of the same effect I hope to create if/when I ever get my shit together and go do karaoke with One Night In Bangkok and/or Rock Me Amadeus (the actual germenglish version, not the lyric-free remix version).
posted by hippybear at 9:24 PM on March 24 [7 favorites]

MY FAVORITE SONG from any movie musical ever omg bless this post
posted by Kitchen Witch at 12:39 AM on March 25 [4 favorites]

30 years after playing a part in that musical and I can still remember remember every word of that song

and every other song in that musical

and every song in every musical I have ever been in

posted by kyrademon at 3:15 AM on March 25 [20 favorites]

That was great. I went into this post thinking well, I know all of Trouble and Pick a Little and the one where they do the scales, but apparently I know all of this one starting from "No, the fellow sells bands..." since as soon as she got to that part, there I was singing along.

Still one of the great musicals.
posted by Mchelly at 5:44 AM on March 25

This is spectacular - thanks so much. Music Man is just about our favorite musical around here. Not at all uncommon to see someone stirring the pot on TV and one of us will start chanting "Trouble...Trouble...Trouble"
posted by jquinby at 5:55 AM on March 25

With a capital T. And that rhymes with P. And that stands for penis.
posted by Grangousier at 5:58 AM on March 25 [3 favorites]

Very young me, listening to the original on a record player, always thought they were saying "credit is no good to an ocean salesman" rather than "a notion salesman".

I won't say how old I was before I realized I was wrong.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 6:34 AM on March 25 [3 favorites]

I was today years old.
posted by eponym at 7:08 AM on March 25 [9 favorites]

As a writer, I'm good at dialogue, which is something I attribute to being a theater kid when I was young. If I were teaching a course right now, I would recommend listening to this song because--although it is, of course, old-fashioned and exaggerated--it captures a lot about the sound of conversations.

Conversations keep a ball in the air. People have a natural instinct to grab for the ball and keep it moving at the same pace. What that pace is depends on so much--subject matter, time of day, cultural background, personalities--but it all adds up to there being a sort of rhythm to every conversation. Maybe it's a very slow, abstract rhythm, a Brian Eno rhythm, but it's there, and if you can imagine it, you can fill in the words. That's why this song lasts--as silly as it is, it picks up on that quality of conversation.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:51 AM on March 25 [4 favorites]

posted by Melismata at 7:57 AM on March 25

I'd never heard this before and was really confused by the speed and rhythm of the whole thing, so then I looked up the same song from the movie and discovered it's supposed to mimic the sound and rhythm of a steam locomotive, which totally makes sense.
posted by Hey Dean Yeager! at 9:32 AM on March 25

Companion piece (previously mentioned in this comment and the one following it).

a notion salesman

Mae West: "Oh yeah? What kinda notions you got?"
posted by aws17576 at 10:20 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]

so then I looked up the same song from the movie and discovered it's supposed to mimic the sound and rhythm of a steam locomotive, which totally makes sense.

And part of what's so great about the version you linked to is that everyone's bouncing around and injecting the rythym into their performance. Certain other versions from say, 2003, completely ignore that. You just have a bunch of guys drinking and smoking just standing around talking about hogshead cask and demijohn in uncomfortable stilted language. Terrible.

posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 11:06 AM on March 25 [6 favorites]

Never heard of *any* salesman Hill? It’s a very common name, I don’t buy it.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:03 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]

Whaddya Talk, Whaddya Talk, Whaddya Talk...

Also did the Music Man in High School. First Tenor in the Quartet.

Lida Rose Quackenbush...
posted by Windopaene at 5:03 PM on March 25

I love the way she does the different characters - reminds me of this snippet of early 80s German weirdness...
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 4:23 AM on March 26

...(previously mentioned in this comment and the one following it).

Hey, that post has seventy-six comments. That's one for each trombone.
posted by Carouselle at 10:38 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]

Oh by the way, in case anyone missed it, in the comments under the Instagram post she mentions that this particular version is from the 1957 original Broadway cast recording, which you can find in its entirety (for the moment) here on Youtube.
posted by mhum at 10:01 AM on March 27

« Older Idlewords: What we need is a massive surveillance...   |   Edgar Wright’s 100 Favorite Comedies Newer »

You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.