For Father’s Day I wanted to do an animation of the Chimera flying and to imbed as accompaniment this old, old song, sung by a baritone my father revered. I’m working hard (playing hard) on the 4th episode of Chimera Spoor Comics, but in the meantime, I haven’t had a chance to make an animation. Today, my wife and I mostly worked on some greatly needed weeding and yard work, so I’m bone tired and just now getting to this post.
Use your imagination and visualize the Chimera singing and flapping his bat-wings while you listen to this YouTube recording (which is, in itself, rather short on exciting visuals).
My Dad was an early riser, even on weekends. My mother, sister, and I would all be sleeping the morning away and sometimes Dad would get fed up and put an old record of John Charles Thomas. The album had a varied assortment of songs, including what used to be called a “Negro spiritual ” (“Everytime I Feel The Spirit“). He sang a wide variety of songs, all of them seemed unbearably corny, like “Home on the Range;” “Trees,” the Joyce Kilmer poem put to music; and “Bluebird of Happiness.” It got his desired result – it jolted us all wide awake!
I was a high school student and loved jazz as much as Dad loved JCT. I thought this stuff was all terribly cornball. The worst song on the record, in my opinion, was “Lord Randall,” an old folk ballad about a Scottish lord who was poisoned by his sweetheart. Thomas trilled his “r’s” to perfection as he “dies” in the arms of his mother, who mostly wants to know who gets his loot once he’s kaput. It never failed to make the rest of us groan.
“The Last Time I Saw Paris” was another song on the record. I was more familiar with the Sonny Rollins version. Rollins could take really corny tunes and make them totally hip. JCT, however, was strictly from squaresville.
Actually, there were some tunes I secretly liked. He did Gilbert and Sullivan’s “When I Was a Lad,” from the comic operetta, “H.M.S. Pinafore,” about an Admiral who got his job by political influence and who knew diddly squat about ships, the navy, or the sea.
“Open Road, Open Sky,” was another. Thomas was a real genuine ham when he wanted to be and he pulled out all the stops on this one, including exuberant sound effects.
This recording sounds identical to the one I remember, and it’s definitely not high-fidelity. I could never quite get all the lyrics down. Years after Dad died, I got nostalgic and looked them up on the web. If you find it’s too much to suffer through the song, I’ve printed the lyrics below. The music is by Johann Strauss II and was written in 1885 for a three-act operetta called “The Gypsy Baron.” The English lyrics are by Ann Ronell, written in 1939.
My history has made me train Wild animals, but I'm more famed. Because I've trained myself To be as spry as any elf. The circus life taught me a lot. Now, the circus is finished, but I'm not. For I'm not afraid to potter round the dark. I'll breakfast on tomorrow's question mark! Adventure is in my brain - why any lion could smell it well. But I always hold the whip And I'll never let it slip. Whatever comes I'll take the good and send the rest to hell! [Chorus] Roaming free as the breeze. What's to stop me and why? I can live as I please - Open road, open sky! My lion taming acting was Enough to create quite a buzz. From Timbuktu to Samarkand I wowed them in the Hinterland. I was King of the King of the Beasts on the stage. Why, the public wouldn't let me out of my cage. They loved it when the lions licked my paws. I got the lion's share of their applause! I roamed with the bold and the brave when the bold are gone. Whatever I wish I'll be, when the wish appeals to me. For there's a thing worth more than gold. -My Creed! I must go on! Roaming free as the breeze. What's to stop me and why? I can do as I please - Open road, open sky!
My Dad was a quiet, gentle giant of a man. He worked as an accountant, a field examiner for the state of Indiana. He had a beautiful voice himself and sang in the Presbyterian church choir. He seldom talked about himself. I got to know him as an adult only for a short while and I deeply regret that I didn’t know him better. He wasn’t comfortable expressing his love, but I know with unshakeable certainty that it was always there.
Happy Father’s Day to all fathers and their families throughout the Multiverse!