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April 28, 2007

Musical Serendipity

Ages ago, at Anime Expo, I was sitting in the Anime Music Video contest, and there was a very clever, cute AMV called Anime Polka set to the song Polka Power!, by "Weird Al" Yankovic. Recently, as I've noted here, I tracked down the song and bought it, setting Renee off on an endless "Weird Al" trek. What I didn't know is what one of the particular snippets of music in that polka medley was from.

So here I was this evening, browsing various weblogs, when one pointed to a video some youngsters at some Web 2.0 company put together, where they lip-synched to a song called Flagpole Sitta, by Harvey Danger. And whattaya know, there they are, singing "I'm not sick, but I'm not well, and I'm so hot cause I'm in hell." Now that I've heard it again, I know that song, but for years, the only connection I had was Polka Power! (and Anime Polka).

If that was not enough, I was reading Metafilter and stumbled onto this thread. In it is described Stephen Sondheim's "favorite song" out of all his body of work. The pointer led to a rare piece of video footage of the 1976 Broadway musical Pacific Overtures, specifically, the performance of the song, "Someone In a Tree". I watched it, not knowing what to expect.

Now if you are not like me, you probably think musical theatre is some sort of aberration of the human mind, and avoid it, as so many people I know do. One comment on Metafilter illustrates this attitude: "Musical theater gives me an urge to break things." I can show you a thing or two you can break, buddy.

But for me, a well done musical is a gem of human achievement. Ten or twenty seconds into this video clip, I was enraptured. Now I wish there were some way to recover this entire video performance. But a comment on YouTube notes:

It's on a tape at the New York Public Library's special collections dept. The only copy in America, as far as I know. You can make an appointment to view it there if you're ever in NYC. I wish they'd get the rights and distribute that tape. This is the only footage I've ever seen from that original Broadway show.

Please, somebody (Criterion Collection?) get the rights to this, and restore it proper. I'll be there with money in hand!

Posted by dpwakefield at April 28, 2007 09:21 PM

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