Shakespeare A Jewess?

Video Fridays: A “Morning Dew” Extravaganza

morning-dewI often think of myself as a pretty decent pop music historian, because in conversations with music geeks and non-geeks alike I very regularly can reference what others consider to be obscure music factoids.

And yet, paradoxically, I regularly learn something new that takes me totally by surprise.

Yesterday was one such occasion, thanks to a friend who, on Facebook, posted a YouTube clip, not only of a British band from the mid-1960s that I’d never heard of, Episode Six, but of Episode Six covering a song I’d only ever heard before as performed by the Grateful Dead: Morning Dew.

I’d known that the song predated the Grateful Dead, but I never noticed that the song was written by Canadian folksinger Bonnie Dobson, and I certainly had no idea, until I did my research, just how many artists and bands covered the song, nor how wacky a variety of artists and bands it has been.

As I commented on my friend’s Facebook post, “Any song that can be covered by the Grateful Dead, Jeff Beck, Lulu, and Devo, just to name a few, is one helluva song!” And, perhaps it’s the song’s heavy subject matter that has inspired so many to interpret it.

Per Wikipedia:

The song is a dialogue between the last man and woman left alive following an apocalyptic catastrophe: Dobson has stated that the initial inspiration for “Morning Dew” was the film On the Beach which is focused on the survivors of virtual global annihilation by nuclear holocaust.

Appropriately then, for this week’s Video Fridays installment, I’ve selected a handful of versions of Morning Dew to best capture this wacky variety, starting with the wackiest I could find.

Enjoy, and Happy Weekend, everyone!

(Disclaimer: The first is a fan-made video, and the second is audio-only, as there were no live performance videos available for these two.)

Wacky, because Devo:

The songwriter’s own recording:

Nazareth, because hair and tank tops:

Jeff Beck Group, because soul, funky bass, and general awesomeness:

Lulu, because campy earnestness:

And finally, magical, because, as I wrote two weeks ago, 1977 Grateful Dead:

Must See: Spielberg’s Lincoln

When I saw the first stills released from behind the scenes of Steven Spielberg‘s new film on our beloved 16th president, stills of Daniel Day Lewis, in full Abraham Lincoln regalia, I was blown away by the likeness, and I knew, given my deep interest in this period in the history of our country, that I would HAVE to see the movie.

Then today, after having read the celebratory reviews, I watched the official trailer (see below) for the first time, and it gave me chills and moved me deeply, as this story always does, the story of a nightmare of a civil war, the battle to end slavery, and the tragic, premature loss of a great leader.

So, yes, definitely a must-see.

Video Fridays: Ye Olde Ye

As a lifer English major, when I came across the following, via Gizmodo, I couldn’t not select it for this week’s Video Fridays installment.

Cuz, you see, the irony does not escape me that I actually earned a degree in English from Rutgers University without ever having been required to take a class in the history of the English language, linguistics, or even English grammar. As a result, I had to grind my way through Shakespeare (my concentration) and Chaucer more heavily dependent on footnotes than I ever should have been.

Anyway, for years I felt a little illegitimate when declaring that I have a degree in English, and this was heightened when my family and I started hosting Japanese exchange students some years ago. There I was, a native speaker of my language, with a Bachelor of Arts in English, and yet I wasn’t much use when these students started asking me for help with their English as a Second Language homework.

A couple of years ago, however, I started taking classes in the Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages program, and the first class, which very nearly killed me, was linguistics. Friedrich Nietzsche was right when he said that that which does not kill us makes us stronger, and ever since I’ve felt that my English degree cred was finally more legitimate.

Still, I never knew, though I always wondered about, the history of the Old English term ye, and I found this clip highly entertaining. I loved the subtle, humorous placement of “porn” and the bit about the French using way more letters in their language than they need to really cracked me up, as my wife and I have a running joke that reading French is easy, because all you need to do is not pronounce the last 2-3 letters of every word.

Enjoy, and have a great weekend, everyone!