i was standing by the window
May 26, 2006 6:10 PM   Subscribe

Made most popular to many Americans as the closing song for the Grand Ole Opry programs, Will The Circle Be Unbroken was written in 1907 by Ada Habershon, an intensely religious young woman and acquaintance of Dwight Moody and Ira David Sankey. The music was "composed" by Charles Gabriel, a popular songwriter and composer of the era who is often solely credited with the song, but while he may have put the notes down on paper, the tune itself already existed as the African-American spiritual Glory Glory / Since I Laid My Burden Down. [lots more inside]
posted by luriete (16 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Poster's Request -- loup

May I hug you?
posted by wheelieman at 6:35 PM on May 26, 2006

Take a gander at my favorites page and you will see how some of the greatest posts here are done by y2karl, text size etc....
posted by wheelieman at 6:42 PM on May 26, 2006

by text size I mean how to make certain parts of the post to stand out the way Karl does. However don't do it on the front page.
posted by wheelieman at 6:44 PM on May 26, 2006

See also..
posted by wheelieman at 6:48 PM on May 26, 2006

Thanks, that was amazing. I've never heard the George Jones or Statler Brothers version. I was introduced to the song through Spacemen 3, and that was responsible for getting me into the Carter Family (A miracle in itself because that was around the time when everyone on Earth was listening to the 'O Brother Where Art Thou?' soundtrack and I was getting really sick of classic country and bluegrass...)
posted by Kronoss at 7:05 PM on May 26, 2006

lovely post. thank you.
posted by jann at 7:05 PM on May 26, 2006

Oh fantastic! Thank you!
posted by melissa may at 7:16 PM on May 26, 2006

Yes I did sir. Spare the hug, its ok. *backs away*
posted by wheelieman at 7:26 PM on May 26, 2006

Great post. I always loved this song and it is fascinating to hear so many versions. Great use of box.net, too.

The Carter Family version has always intrigued me because of the irregular meter in the second half of each strophe. The basic 2-beat pulse is "broken" by dropping the second beat before the final phrase. This keeps the vocal line moving and eliminates a held note and works so well that it really isn't very noticeable unless you are looking for it. It makes me wonder if they learned it that way or if that was one of AP's "improvements."

It does not seem to be transmitted in later renditions, many of which seem deeply influenced by the Carter family recording. Are there any other early recordings that were influential?

13th Floor Elevators version: what a find!
posted by imposster at 8:53 PM on May 26, 2006

Jello Biafra, also with "fixed" lyrics.
posted by swell at 9:24 PM on May 26, 2006

I grew up with this and songs like Will the Circle Be Unbroken, and always tear up when I hear the opening bars. In fact, this song - and Summertime - have been pretty much stuck in my head for the past 25 years or so.

Maybe next week's post will be on that tune.

OK, so it took you nine months to get around to it.

Worth the wait though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:31 PM on May 26, 2006

And while I'm at it, luriete, your blog might be the only one that I've ever seen that warrants a front page post all of it's own.

Very fine work.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:44 PM on May 26, 2006

Ira David Sankey

Depending on your denomination, he was either an innovator of church music, or he destroyed it.

There are almost no Sankey hymns in the 500-600 song canon of songs most Protestants sing today, but there are a lot of Sankey followers whose songs are in the canon, especially one Frances J. Crosby, who wrote at least 8,000 hymns between 1863 and 1910. That's one every two days on average until the day she died -- at the age of 95. And this is on top of the "secular" stuff she wrote in the first 43 years of her life, and she wrote thousands of those as well.

I just find that writing pace stunning, me who struggles to write a simple 25 word block of copy as part of my job.
posted by dw at 10:50 PM on May 26, 2006

exceptional post. thanks.
posted by theora55 at 6:19 PM on May 27, 2006

I'm rather fond of Les Barker's version, the cautionary tale of a pet turtle called Myrtle who tumbles out of the window of a skyscraper -
"Will the turtle be unbroken, By and by, Lord, by and by?
Look at Myrtle,
Watch her hurtle,
Through the sky, Lord, through the sky!"*

Other wonderful songs by Les and the Mrs Ackroyd Band include Dachshunds with Erections (can't climb stairs) and Cosmo, the Fairly-Accurate Knife-thrower.
posted by tabbycat at 9:01 AM on May 28, 2006

* I forgot to say, for those of you of a nervous disposition, Myrtle does survive.
posted by tabbycat at 9:05 AM on May 28, 2006

« Older So, do you think they're carnivorous?   |   Rattlesnake Bite Surgery Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments