Monday, November 5, 2012

Elected Officials: FDR in Trinidad

YouTube link to FDR in Trinidad (Attila the Hun)
YouTube link to FDR in Trinidad (Ry Cooder)
Amazon link to purchase Ry Cooder version from Into the Purple Valley

I was wondering why some of our elected officials end up being well-remembered by their initials. You don’t have to be a great historian to know who JFK, LBJ or FDR are, but no one knows Lincoln (arguably equally well-known) as AL. You may well know Bush senior as George H.W. Bush, but you’d be among the elite who could tell us what both the H and W stand for, I suspect.

Name-“plays” related to my posting this week don’t end there. My choice of song this week is a song originally composed by a Fizt MacLean (and that is not a typo). You would be forgiven for wanting to go searching for a “Fritz”. In fact, there is a YouTube take of the great musicologist Ry Cooder getting the name wrong just before he performs one of MacLean’s songs with David Lindley. [after the fact edit: it wasnt Ry with D Lindley and it wasnt Fizt Maclean: It was "Fizz" Fuller and Jackson Browne with David Lindley, but the FDR info appears to remain correct. Sorry.]
Ry Cooder performed the first version I ever heard of my choice of song this week on “Into the Purple Valley”, and other sources indicate that, among others, Van Dyke Parks has also done the song. However, Attila the Hun (nee Raymond Quevedo), calypso musician from Trinidad, first popularized the song in order to commemorate FDR’s 1936 visit to Trinidad. Wikipedia tells us that Attila the Hun championed the poor and eventually made it into politics in Trinadad. It isn’t too hard to see from the lyrics of the song why Quevedo might have latched on: (for the suffering humanity) and attention from the foremost republic espousing it (to make the world safe for democracy).

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