Monday, February 2, 2015

The Bells of St. Mary

The Bells of St. Mary's
Words by Douglas Furber
Music by A. Emmett Adams
1937 1917

Key: F major
This illustration looks like it's from 1750, and that's not the right church.
The range on this song is beyond my comfort level so I'll spare you a vocal version. The problem will be comparing this published sheet music with the version Bing Crosby sings 7 years hence in 1945 in the movie of the same name with Ingrid Bergman. That version totally drops the 6/8 sea shanty introduction, jumps right to the Refrain...and changes those lyrics too. I'm trying to avoid songs made famous by Bing Crosby and even though this song predates him, Crosby made the song famous at the end of WWII as Father O'Malley showing up at a Catholic school and charming the sister in charge (Bergman). I don't want to analyze these movies but I will point out that in 1944 Bing Crosby first appeared as Father O'Malley in Going My Way, and won a best actor Oscar. That's high praise for a lounge singer. As near as I can determine this role was the perfect match for Crosby's public persona; O'Malley is kind of a fallen angel, he dresses in street clothes, drinks, plays golf, hardly seems devout and seems to be pining for the girl he left behind when he joined the priesthood. It's a strange role and the only way I can describe him is like Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name, except in a priest's robe. He seems to wander the earth looking for trouble and then solving everything with charm and a song before drifting back off to another adventure. Well, 1944's role was so good they immediately put him back in action with Bells of St. Mary in 1945 and that's where he sings this song I found in my box of dusty music. It is interesting to note that I watched an unrelated movie of Bergman's at cine club in Mexico. Me and three Mexican men watching a grainy version of Stromboli (1950) in Castilian, Spanish in some kind of Italian dialect with Spanish subtitles, Directed by Roberto Rosellini. I had no idea what was going on and I kind of fell into a trance, nodding off like an old man, until the lights came up and I had almost no idea where on earth I was. Maybe a Mediterranean Island, maybe Labrador, Texas, Mexico, Ecuador. It had all blended together and I was truly lost and forlorn, speechless. Well, Bergman and Rosellini were married to other people at the time, and that didn't stop them from having children together, first a son and then twin girls, one named Isabella, the other named Ingrid, and getting divorced from their respective spouses and getting married...and this scandal was, in Bergman's words, exacerbated by the fact American audiences had "Seen me as a nun and thought I was pure, but I am only a woman." I had wondered what she was talking about at that time...and now I know...she's talking about her 1945 role as a Sister Mary Benedict at a troubled Catholic school opposite Bing Crosby in The Bells of St. Mary's, which is the title of a song written in 1937 by two blokes from England. Well, she fled Hollywood for Italy and had to stay there about 10 years until American standards eroded to the point it was acceptable to applaud a harlot and temptress.

Patriots Finally Win Their 4th.

Pats fans have watched two superior Patriots teams lose in the Superbowl and tonight a slightly inferior team beats their equal. I don't want to analyze this game but it should reinforce the notion that anything can happen. The game could've been decided by a bunch of plays. The game is 60 minutes long and the first minute is as important as the last minute but we usually only remember the last minute. But because the first minute is as important as the last there really can never be a single play that decides the game. All sports fans have this law taught to them and some refuse to learn it. The Bill Buckner play will haunt Red Sox fans but it took 10 innings to get to that point and lots of pitches, lots of plays. Jim Rice gets thrown out at the plate. Schiraldi pitches his third inning of relief for the first time of the year, after two innings of horrible pitching. Clemens fails on three sac bunt attempts. Oh, I wrote a book about this topic which is mostly unreadable nonsense, but it gave me some closure on the event. If we could do things differently then it's possible the one play we'd change wouldn't be the one everyone talks about. It might be some play in the 2nd quarter that was critical. They are all important plays and it's a team sport and there's always a next season to redeem yourself.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.