Monday, July 3, 2017

Musical Monday - The Lees of Old Virginia by Ron Holgate, William Daniels, and Howard Da Silva


A somewhat idealized and simplified version of the history of the passage of the Declaration of Independence is told in the musical 1776. After some introductions that establish the character of John Adams and the fact that Congress has become mired in indecision, refusing to even consider the question of independence, the story proper kicks off with this scene. Benjamin Franklin convinces the charismatic but somewhat dim Richard Henry Lee to head off to Williamsburg to use his considerable influence to persuade the colony to adopt a resolution in favor of independence. Given that 1776 is a musical and Richard Henry Lee is used in the early going as comic relief, the scene is played for laughs, but it is almost certain that the reality was nothing like this - among other things Richard Henry Lee was probably not nearly as affably dopey as he is portrayed here - he was, after all, one of the most successful politicians of his era. It is, however, true that Lee, at the direction of the Virginia legislature, did propose a resolution on independence.

The song uses a play on Lee's name for much of its humor, and this aspect leads me to my next point: I associate songs with particular people and places. I live in a town named after Lee's family, and whenever anyone says the name of the town, I always think of this song. There are people that I know that I cannot see or talk to without hearing a particular song playing in the back of my head. I don't know if this is a common phenomenon or if this quirk is particular only to me, but it does create an interesting soundtrack in my head.

Subsequent Musical Monday: Angie by The Rolling Stones

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