Saturday, November 18, 2006

That Bright, Bright Morning

We’ve posted so many Al Stewart lyrics in the last few weeks that you’d think we were getting kickbacks from the guy. But there’s no payola for Gates of Vienna; we just like Al Stewart. And, judging by our email, readers seem to like him, too.

As noted previously, Mr. Stewart is a devotee of history, and seeks to recreate through his songs the atmosphere of bygone eras. He is particularly fascinated with the time just before he was born, and devoted a whole album to those years, called Between the Wars.

Charles Lindbergh lands at Bourget Airport, May 21st, 1927My favorite from that collection is “Lindy Comes to Town”. When I was a child, thirty years after Charles Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic and landed at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, the event continued to resonate through the culture, and Lindy was still a shining icon in our collective memory.

So here’s a song to evoke that lost time. I wish I could provide the music as well as the lyrics — it’s got a great Tin Pan Alley feel to it, exactly appropriate to the material.
- - - - - - - - - -
Lindy Comes to Town
by Al Stewart


Lindy flew his plane across the dark Atlantic
Put her down near Paris and the crowds went frantic
They raced across the field, to touch the wings and wheels
And reach inside the cockpit just to see if he was real

Back in New York City people watched and waited
The news came down the wire and they celebrated
And in that time so brief, it was everyone’s belief
That the world had grown no bigger than a pocket handkerchief

When Lindy comes to town and all the bands are playing
When Lindy comes to town and all the flags are waving
Mr Coolidge he will say, it’s a public holiday
You can see them ride down Wall Street in a tickertape parade

I want to be there in that crown upon that bright, bright morning
And I can tell the world I saw a new day dawning
With my baby by my side in among that human tide
I want to be right there when Lindy comes to town

Every day is better than the one before it
If I see a raincloud then I’ll just ignore it
Everbody says it’ll get much better yet
It’s 1927 and my whole life lies ahead

Gonna get myself a car and find a place to park it
Get a little cash and put it in the market
And on my wedding day I will turn around and say
There never was a better time than this one anyway

When Lindy comes to town and all the bands are playing
When Lindy comes to town and all the flags are waving
Mr Coolidge he will say, it’s a public holiday
You can see them ride down Wall Street in a tickertape parade

I want to be there in that crown upon that bright, bright morning
And I can tell the world I saw a new day dawning
With my baby by my side in among that human tide
I want to be right there when Lindy comes to town

Lindy
*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   

I had wondered why the title of this song wasn’t simply “Lindy”, which seemed the more natural choice. Then I started searching the web for “Lindy” songs and discovered that there was already at least one song by that title. It was actually written in 1927, during the great Lindy craze, and is a “Fox Trot with Ukulele Accompaniment.”

Wonder what it sounds like?

Compare the lyrics with Al Stewart’s and decide which you prefer:

Lindy — Youth with a Heart of Gold
Sheet music by Norman Leigh and George L. Cobb
Published by Walter Jacobs Inc., Boston 1927.

Whose name do the people shout?
Who’s the boy we’re all wild about?
Who’s the wonder of the day?
Who’s the Ace of the U.S.A.?
Lindy, Lindy, youth with the heart of gold —
Lindy, Lindy, spirit — so bold —
Others talk about tryin’
You just stuck to plain flyin’
Till you flew straight through the blue —
So here’s our hand to you.

Charles Lindbergh survived until 1974, but during my time he was mostly out of public life. Think of all the events that followed the climax at Le Bourget — the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, the Great Depression, Lindbergh's involvement with America First, the War, the Cold War, the advent of space flight — and 1927 seems a different epoch indeed. But consider this: there are people alive today who were born the same year as Charles Lindbergh.

It’s been an interesting century.



Update: Lumberjack has found an mp3 of the song here.

2 comments:

Douglas V. Gibbs said...

Few Americans remember what made America great. Thanks for the memories.

Evanston said...

Lyrically solid. Musically? Not catchy, sorta irritating. My favorite Al Stewart song is "On the Border."
In the village where I grew up nothing seems the same, it's just the faces that remain from day-to-day. No one notices the customs slip away...