Monday, September 07, 2015

Highway 61 Visited

Aeeeii! I spent hours and hours trying to find the perfect song to end my play about Marilyn Monroe. None of the public domain jazz/pop songs I found were just right and Irving Berlin alone has like 30 songs written before 1923 (being published prior to 1923 is pretty much a guarantee of public domain status.)

I finally decided on the folk/blues traditional tune - which means written by anonymous - presented on the PublicDomain4U site performed by Jack Kelly & His South Memphis Jug Band. I plan to have Ella Fitzgerald sing the play out using this song, although I edited the lyrics a little:
Oh that 61 Highway
It's the longest road I know-whoa
Yes that 61 Highway
It the longest road I know-oh
She runs from New York City
Down to the Gulf of Mexico
I said, please
Please see somebody for me
I said ple-eee-ase
Please see somebody for me
If you see my baby
Tell him he's alright with me.
Although Fitzgerald isn't know for singing blues, she did try her hand at it, as can be seen via her album These are the Blues. Her jazz work is much better.

If you've ever heard of Bob Dylan's song Highway 61 Revisited, now you know why the word "revisited" is in the title.

According to the Wiki about the album:
Dylan has stated that he had to overcome considerable resistance at Columbia Records to give the album its title. He told biographer Robert Shelton: "I wanted to call that album Highway 61 Revisited. Nobody understood it. I had to go up the fucking ladder until finally the word came down and said: 'Let him call it what he wants to call it'."[5] Michael Gray has suggested that the very title of the album represents Dylan's insistence that his songs are rooted in the traditions of the blues: "Indeed the album title Highway 61 Revisited announces that we are in for a long revisit, since it is such a long, blues-travelled highway. Many bluesmen had been there before [Dylan], all recording versions of a blues called 'Highway 61'."[6]
I settled on this song because the events of the play happen in 1961 and it's about traveling and mentions New York City - at the end of the play (spoiler alert) Marilyn is getting out of the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic. She eventually joined Joe Dimaggio (after a month-long stay at a regular, non-psychiatric hospital) at Yankees spring training in Ft. Lauderdale, which is on the Gulf of Mexico.

Actually it from from NYC to the Gulf of Mexico in the song, but in actuality US Route 61goes from Minnesota (where Bob Dylan grew up ) to New Orleans, which is on the Gulf of Mexico. But it goes nowhere near NYC.

The lyrics of Highway 61 Revisited are very different from Highway 61.

Best lyric:
Now, the fifth daughter on the twelfth night
Told the first father that things weren't right
"My complexion," she says, "is much too white"
He said, "Come here and step into the light"
He said, "Hmm, you're right, let me tell the second mother this has been done"
But the second mother was with the seventh son
And they were both out on Highway 61