May 3, 1998
Loves' Labour's Lost (excerpt)
Today's Reading: Lines from LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST by William Shakespeare.
It's the birthday of the Godfather of Soul, JAMES BROWN, born in a cabin in the pine woods outside Barnwell, South Carolina, 1933. For a time he lived with his aunt who ran a brothel across the Savannah River in Augusta, Georgia, and he learned to play the house organ there, then went on to teach himself drums, piano, guitar and gospel singing. He did time for theft when he was 16, and when he got out he joined a little group called the Flames and cut a record, "Please Please Please" at radio station WIBB in Macon, Georgia, which made it onto the national charts.
PETE SEEGER was born on this day in 1919 in New York. He grew up listening mostly to classical music until he was 16 years old when his father took him to a folk festival in Asheville, North Carolina and he became fascinated with the five-string banjo. He entered Harvard and majored in sociology, but left during his sophomore year to see the country. He hitchhiked and jumped freight trains with his banjo, performing on street corners, migrant camps, bars, and churches. In 1955 the House Committee on Un-American Activities called Seeger to testify about his membership in the Communist Party. He refused to answer their questions, citing the First Amendment, and for years was blacklisted.
It's the birthday of BETTY COMDEN, Brooklyn, 1919, who with Adolf Green wrote the lyrics for shows like On the Town (1944, with music by Bernstein) and Peter Pan (1954, with music by Jule Styne). They also wrote the script for the film, Singin' in the Rain.
It's the birthday in Belgium, 1912, of the American writer, MAY SARTON. She grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts and moved to New York in 1929 and worked as an actor in semi-professional troupes. She started her own acting company and put everything she had into it, keeping it alive until 1936 when Depression economics closed it down. She said, "It is not a bad thing to have to face total failure at 24. It toughens the spirit and makes one aware that human beings have unquenchable resources within them. " She lived most of her life in New Hampshire and Maine. She became particularly well-known for a series of journals, including Plant Dreaming Deep, Journal of a Solitude, published in the 1950s and '60s; and Recovering, a book she wrote in 1980 after a mastectomy, in which she said: "I would like to believe when I die that I have given myself away like a tree that sows seed every spring and never counts the loss, because it is not loss, it is adding to future life. It is the tree's way of being. Strongly rooted, but spilling out its treasure on the wind."
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®