Last July I wrote that I had assembled a soundtrack for Countdown. Go here to find that post, and a listing of all songs, along with a snippet from the book that each song corresponds to.
There are 45 songs altogether, all available at on iTunes as a special iMix. You can download one or two, or all 45, as I did. I had thought to make a mix with a "core list" of tunes as well, but I'm finding that that core list is different for each reader.
As I know the book so well, and have lived with it so long, it's thrilling to me, to hear Shirley Jones start with:
When you walk through a storm,
hold your head up high
and don't be afraid of the dark!
At the end of the storm
is a golden sky
and the sweet, silver song of a lark!
You'll see snippets from "You'll Never Walk Alone" in the first scrapbook that anchors Countdown. Now you can hear the song and become lost in Franny's world. You can move from the multiple meanings of the "You'll Never Walk Alone" beginning, to the theme from "How The West Was Won," as Mr. Mitchell stands with his hands on his hips like John Wayne, after the air raid drill, and tells students and teachers, "it's just a drill, folks."
Then you move to "I'm Just Wild About Harry," as the opinionated biography of Harry Truman is next... and then right into Marilyn Monroe singing "Happy Birthday, Mr. President," to JFK... and JFK's reply.
Each song carries you through the narrative and is, truly, part of the narrative, in just the way that songs, poetry, spoken word are part of our personal narrative of our lives. Listening to this iMix, I am reminded, too, of how very rich the early sixties was in song and word -- Broadway tunes (Carousel, West Side Story, Camelot) take their place alongside Sam Cooke, James Brown, Elvis, Sunday morning hymns, Sousa marches, "The Wonderful World of Color" and "Here's Johnny!"
Anthony Davies reads "In Flanders Fields." You'll find part of JFK's speech to an anxious nation on October 22, 1962, as well as the terribly un-pc "Jose the Astronaut" by Bill Dana. Also, a young Cassius Clay reciting his iconic poem, "I Am The Greatest." You won't be able to listen to it without laughing.
Martin Luther King, Jr. makes an appearance with a snippet from his speech "We Shall Overcome," with the marvelous quote, "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice," and the famous ending words, "Walk together, children, don't you get weary! There's a great camp meeting in the Promised Land!" It thrills me every time I listen to it.
There is a treasure trove of spoken word in this iMix, as well as the songs of the day -- all mentioned in and important to the whole that is Countdown, and all amplified in this mix of sounds of the early sixties. From folk ("Where Have All The Flowers Gone?" by Peter Paul and Mary) to pop ("Runaway" by Del Shannon), to early rock and roll/rhythm and blues ("Do the Locomotion" by Little Eva, "Night Train" by James Brown), and even hymns ("In the Garden") and John Thompson Piano tunes (remember "Spinning Song"?). Even Mitch Miller's "Sing Along With Mitch" rendition of "Side by Side." A rich, rich time in our history.
Doris Day sings "Que Sera Sera," which always takes me back to my mother singing that song... and in Countdown, "Que Sera Sera" anchors a scrapbook. A key song anchors each scrapbook section, and others are mentioned in the text.
You can access the iTunes mix here, in this post, and at the home page of One Pomegranate on the right-hand sidebar.
If you run into a glitch (as I did; I need a special codec or something), you can go to the iTunes store, search for "Shirley Jones" and then click on her album "Then and Now." When that comes up, look for "Top Rated Mixes" in the left column (you may have to scroll down), and there you'll find "Countdown 1962." Then you can pick and choose what you want to hear.
The Duck and Cover film is included in the iMix, as Franny has to watch it in school. Here is another look at that film, on YouTube. Amazing that we used to think that would save us. Actually... I wasn't fooled for one minute. I think lots of ten-year-olds were smarter than this, and weren't buying the propaganda.
Or were we? We just wanted to be safe and sing "You'll Never Walk Alone" in Glee Club, and play Nancy Drew after school, try to play "Spinning Song" on the piano, eat TV dinners on a weekend night, or visit that new-fangled restaurant that wasn't really a restaurant: McDonald's. We wanted to ride our bikes in the woods, fall in love, have a best friend to tell all our secrets to, and spend long, lazy afternoons day-dreaming about what we would be when we grew up.
In Countdown, Franny wants all these things, too. Mostly she just wants to feel that she has a chance to grow up.
In celebration of the publication of Countdown, I'm giving away two copies of the iMix "Countdown 1962." Just leave a comment for me, ON THE BLOG, and I will use a random number generator to select two winners. If you're reading this on Facebook or Jacketflap or in email, etc., you'll still need to leave a comment on the blog, here.
You'll need iTunes as well, since I'm going to gift the entire mix through iTunes, and will need to send it to your iTunes account.
So come on, come on, and do the locomotion with me! I'll close comments and select a winner by [the end of this week (Saturday, May 8).] THE DEADLINE HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO JULY 1!