Robert Reiniger Meredith Willson was an American flautist, conductor, musical arranger and playwright, best known for writing the book and lyrics for the hit Broadway musical The Music Man. He wrote three other Broadway musicals, composed symphonies and popular songs, his film scores were twice nominated for Academy Awards. Willson was born in Mason City, Iowa, to John David Willson and Rosalie Reiniger Willson, he had a brother two years his senior, John Cedrick, a sister 12 years his senior, the children's author Dixie Willson, he attended Frank Damrosch's Institute of Musical Art in New York City. He married his high school sweetheart, Elizabeth "Peggy" Wilson, on August 29, 1920. A flute and piccolo player, Willson was a member of John Philip Sousa's band, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini. Willson moved to San Francisco, California, as the concert director for radio station KFRC, as a musical director for the NBC radio network in Hollywood, his on-air radio debut came on KFRC in 1928 on Blue Monday Jamboree.
His work in films included composing the score for Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator, arranging music for the score of William Wyler's The Little Foxes. During World War II, he worked for the United States' Armed Forces Radio Service, his work with the AFRS teamed him with Gracie Allen and Bill Goodwin. He would work with all three as the bandleader, a regular character, on the Burns and Allen radio program, he played a shy man, always trying to get advice on women. His character was ditsy as well a male version of Gracie Allen's character. In 1942, Willson had his own program on NBC. Meredith Willson's Music was a summer replacement for Fibber Molly. Sparkle Time, which ran on CBS in 1946–47, was Willson's first full-season radio program. Returning to network radio after WWII, he created the Talking People, a choral group that spoke in unison while delivering radio commercials, he became the musical director for The Big Show, a prestigious comedy-variety program hosted by actress Tallulah Bankhead and featuring some of the world's most respected entertainers.
Willson himself became part of one of the show's few running gags, beginning replies to Bankhead's comments or questions with "well, Miss Bankhead..." Willson wrote the song "May the Good Lord Keep You" for the show. Bankhead spoke the lyrics over the music at the end of each show, he worked on Jack Benny's radio program, hosted his own program in 1949. For a few years in the early 1950s, Willson was a regular panelist on the Goodson-Todman game show The Name's the Same. In 1950 Willson served as Musical Director for The California Story, the Golden State's centennial production at the Hollywood Bowl. Through working on this production, Willson met writer Franklin Lacey who proved instrumental in developing the story line for a musical Willson had been working on, soon to be known as The Music Man; the California Story spectacular was followed by two more state centennial collaborations with stage director Vladimir Rosing: The Oregon Story in 1959 and The Kansas Story in 1961. Willson's most famous work, The Music Man, premiered on Broadway in 1957, was adapted twice for film.
He referred to the show as "an Iowan's attempt to pay tribute to his home state". It took Willson some eight years and thirty revisions to complete the musical, for which he wrote more than forty songs; the cast recording of The Music Man won the first Grammy Award for Best Original Cast Album. In 1959, Willson and his wife Rini recorded an album called "...and Then I Wrote The Music Man", in which they review the history of, sing songs from, the show. In 2010, Brian d'Arcy James and Kelli O'Hara played Willson and Rini in an off-Broadway entertainment based on this album, his second musical, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, ran on Broadway for 532 performances from 1960 to 1962 and was made into a 1964 motion picture starring Debbie Reynolds. His third Broadway musical was an adaptation of the film Miracle On 34th Street, called Here's Love, his fourth and least successful musical was 1491, which told the story of Columbus's attempts to finance his famous voyage. It was produced by the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera Association in 1969, but was never produced on Broadway.
His Symphony No. 1 in F minor: A Symphony of San Francisco and his Symphony No. 2 in E minor: Missions of California were recorded in 1999, by William T. Stromberg conducting the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra. Other symphonic works include O. O. McIntyre Suite, Symphonic Variations on an American Theme and Anthem, the symphonic poem Jervis Bay, Ask Not, which incorporates quotations from John F. Kennedy's inaugural address. In tribute to the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts, he composed In Idyllwild for orchestra, vocal solo and Alphorn. Willson's chamber music includes A Suite for Flute. In 1964, Willson produced three original summer variety specials for CBS under the title Texaco Star Parade; the first special starred Willson and his wife, Rini. The second special starred Debbie Reynolds singing selections she had introduced from Willson's production, "The Unsinkable Molly Brown". Willson and Rini hosted the third special in July and it featured a Willson production number with 1,00
Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)
"Count Your Blessings" is a popular song written by Irving Berlin and used in the 1954 movie White Christmas. It is performed as a Christmas song, although the lyrics make no reference to the December holiday; the song arose from a personal experience of Berlin when his doctor suggested he try "counting his blessings" as a way to deal with insomnia brought on by stress. In a letter to 20th Century Fox executive Joseph Schenck, Berlin wrote:"I’m enclosing a lyric of a song I finished here and which I am going to publish immediately…You have always said that I commercial my emotions and many times you were wrong, but this particular song is based on what happened.... The story is in its verse, which I don’t think I’ll publish; as I say in the lyrics, sometime ago, after the worst kind of a sleepless night, my doctor came to see me and after a lot of self-pity, belly-aching and complaining about my insomnia, he looked at me and said “speaking of doing something about your insomnia, did you try counting your blessings?”
Berlin incorporated the song to the film White Christmas to advance the relationship between the characters played by Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney. The sentimental theme reminds listeners to remember how much they are blessed instead of fretting about short-term problems, it was nominated for an Academy Award as "Best Song" but was defeated by "Three Coins in the Fountain" from the movie of the same name written by Jule Styne and lyricist Sammy Cahn. It was performed on the 1955 Academy Awards telecast by vocalist Peggy King; the best-known recordings were made by Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby — who both appeared in the film — as well as some separate recordings by Eddie Fisher, Sonny Rollins, Andy Williams, Tammy Wynette, Jimmy Durante, the Ray Conniff Singers. The versions which reached the top of the Billboard charts were by Eddie Fisher, Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney. In the UK, Crosby's version reached the No. 11 spot. Jazz renditions were cut in 1954 in 1956 by Sonny Rollins and Clifford Brown.
More recent recordings include those by Amy Grant, Miki Howard, Jars of Clay, Diana Krall, Barry Manilow, Johnny Mathis, Sandi Patty, JJ Heller and José Mari Chan. Lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics Crosby and Clooney
Sometimes When We Touch (album)
Sometimes When We Touch is the twenty-sixth studio album by American country music singer-songwriter Tammy Wynette. It was released on April 1985, by Epic Records; the album peaked at No. 32 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. The album's first single, "Sometimes When We Touch", peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Country Singles chart, the second single, "You Can Lead a Heart to Love", both peaked at No. 48
You and Me (Tammy Wynette album)
You and Me is the sixteenth studio album by American country music singer-songwriter Tammy Wynette. It was released on October 1976, by Epic Records; the album peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. The album's only single, "You and Me", peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Singles chart. Adapted from the album liner notes. Lou Bradley - engineer The Jordanaires - backing vocals Bill McElhiney - string arrangements Billy Sherrill - producer Tammy Wynette - lead vocals
Another Lonely Song (album)
Another Lonely Song is the twelfth studio album by American country music singer-songwriter Tammy Wynette. It was released on March 1974, by Epic Records; the album peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. The album's only single, "Another Lonely Song", peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Singles chart. Adapted from the album liner notes. Bill Barnes - cover design Lou Bradley - engineer The Jordanaires - backing vocals Cam Mullins - string arrangements The Nashville Edition - backing vocals Ron Reynolds - engineer Billy Sherrill - producer Bergen White - string arrangements Tammy Wynette - lead vocals
Heart Over Mind (Tammy Wynette album)
Heart Over Mind is the twenty-ninth studio album by American country music singer-songwriter Tammy Wynette. It was released on September 1990, by Epic Records; the album peaked at No. 64 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. The album's lead single, Let's Call It a Day", peaked at No. 57 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. The second single, did not chart; the album's third and final single, "What Goes with Blue", reached a peak position of No. 56
I Still Believe in Fairy Tales
I Still Believe in Fairy Tales is the fourteenth studio album by American country music singer-songwriter Tammy Wynette. It was released on September 1975, by Epic Records; the album peaked at No. 24 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. The album's only single, "I Still Believe in Fairy Tales", peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Country Singles chart. Adapted from the album liner notes. Lou Bradley - engineer The Nashville Edition - backing vocals Billy Sherrill - producer Tammy Wynette - lead vocals