November 22, 2013

20,000 Vinyl LPs 28: John Fitzgerald Kennedy ~ That Was the Week That Was

Any one who was more than 5 years old on this date fifty years ago, November 22, 1963, knows exactly where they were and what they were doing. I vividly remember where I was and the circumstances. I had an alarm-clock radio that would wake me up with gentle music in the mornings to go to work. It came on that morning not with music, as usual, but with a news bulletin announcing the shooting of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, in Dallas, Texas. I remember the shock and horror of the news and the surreal feeling I was still sleeping and I was having a nightmare I couldn't wake up from. I just couldn't believe it was true. But the horrible truth was, I was not sleeping and the nightmare was real. The bizarre thing is, almost five years later, on June 7, 1968, that same alarm-clock radio woke me up to the news of the assassination of Robert Francis Kennedy the night before. It was a hideous déjà vu I never wanted repeated so I threw the alarm-clock radio away and used a regular alarm clock from then on.

Kennedy was a hero to me as he was to many of us in those times. The date is marked in American history, and for the world, as one of the saddest days in modern times. The shock of the event can still be felt after 50 years.

This album is a recording of a broadcast of the BBC weekly political satire program, That Was the Week That Was; this night it was not a humorous or satirical show but a tribute to the life of John Fitzgerald Kennedy with readings and musings by various famous people (tracklist below). It was broadcast the day after the assassination, November 23, 1963. The usual humorous bantering was absent from it. It was a shortened 20-minute program with no satire, reflecting on the loss, including a contribution from Dame Sybil Thorndike and the tribute song In the Summer of His Years sung by Millicent Martin with music by David Lee and lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. This edition was screened on NBC in the US the following day, and the soundtrack was released by Decca Records ‎– DL 9116. There must have been millions of copies of the album sold.

Mahalia Jackson sings a moving a-capella version of In the Summer of His Years with drums accompanying her vocal (link below).

A studio recording of In the Summer of His Years, by Millicent Martin, was issued in the US by ABC-Paramount, other versions were recorded and released by Toni Arden (a 7" 45 rpm single on Decca), Bobby Rydell, Connie Francis (MGM), Mahalia Jackson (Columbia), Kate Smith (RCA Victor), Sarah Vaughan (Vernon), Hettie Palance and The Chad Mitchell Trio (Mercury); the Francis recording became a Top 40 hit on the Cash Box pop singles chart in January 1964 (links to music on YouTube below).

photos by Lewis Morley Studios

      The BBC Telecast Saturday November 23, 1963
      In Order Of Appearance
    David Frost        
    Roy Kinnear        
    David Kernan        
    Al Mancini        
    Kenneth Cope        
    William (Willie) Rushton        
    Lance Percicent        
     David Frost        
Millicent MartinIn The Summer Of His Years        
    David Frost        
    Robert Lang        
Dame Sybil Thorndike* – To Jackie        
    Bernard Levin        
    David Frost

photos by Lewis Morley Studios

photos by Lewis Morley Studios

TW3 - Death of President Kennedy with Millicent Martin singing, In The Summer Of His Years, on YouTube

In The Summer of His Years by Mahalia Jackson on YouTube
In The Summer of His Years by Kate Smith on YouTube

there is another John Fitzgerald Kennedy article on the Viewfinder


Where were you?

Styrous ~ November 22, 2013


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