Will-a-Mania

August 15th is a big day in music history.

  • 1969: The Woodstock Music Festival opens.
  • 1965: The Beatles play Shea Stadium.
  • 1935: Will Rogers and Wiley Post die when their plane crashes after take-off in Barrow, Alaska.

Now, you might not put Will Rogers in the same music sphere as the Beatles, but for a Broadway fan, The Will Rogers Follies — winner of the 1991 Tony Award for Best Musical — is a pretty big deal.

Prior to that show, Will Rogers was just a name in the history books to me.  Once a year or so in movie theatres, I did see cans passed to raise money for the Will Rogers Institute, which funds medical research in asthma, tuberculosis and pulmonary diseases….but that was the extent of my knowledge.

Keith Carradine’s portrayal brought Rogers to life — his years in vaudeville and radio, his common sense approach to life, his wife, his politics and witticisms, and his love and support for the then fledgling aviation industry.

I used to listen to the musical’s soundtrack in my car driving back and forth to work…back when I had a car and actually worked in an office.  It has amazing energy and lyrics — perfect ‘pick-me-up’ music.

Who needs a car?  I’m gonna listen to Will today.

It is August 15th.

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