Tell It Again
LP Angel Records/Capitol 65041 (1957)
1. Favorites Nursery Rhymes
2. School Days and Learning Songs
3. Songs of Fun and Nonsens
5. The Animal World
6. Bedtime Songs and Lullabies
Julie Andrews / Marty Green
TELL IT AGAIN
“Tell it again, tell it again,
Tell it just the same.
The very same people,
The very same story,
And call it the very same name.”
The nursery rhyme is the novel and light reading of the infant scholar. It occupies, with respect to the ABC, the position of the romance which relieves the mind from the cares of a riper age.’ Halliwell-Phillips, The Nursery Rhymes of England (1886)
Children always want to hear their favorite songs and stories repeated, and “just the same way”. If a word or an inflection is changed, the spell is broken. This record is for them. But “Tell It Again” is also for their parents – and their sisters, and their cousins, and their aunts; for all grown-ups who, introducing these magic rhymes to children, share their cultural heritage with a new generation with the added pleasure of reliving the happy hours of their own childhood. The boys and girls who entered the enchanted world of nursery rhyme with older members of the family will, later in life, identify this early experience with those adults lovingly brought to them the cherished treasures of childhood.
Julie Laurence, producer of the record, is – despite her youth – an authority on children’s records. She has lectured at schools and talked about them on television. She has helped prepare the catalogue of circulating children’s records for the New York Public Library. For “Tell It Again” she did extensive research so that the rhymes would be as authentic as they are entertaining. For example, “Multiplication is vexation” was found in a manuscript dated 1570: “Thirty days hath September” in an old play, “The Return from Parnassus”, printed in 1606. When there was a choice of versions, she chose the older; in the case of “Rock-a-by Baby” the original verse was not only prettier but in it “father’s a nobleman and mother’s a queen” and baby does not fall from a tree-top. The only lyrics which Julie Laurence wrote herself are “Tell It Again” and the Prayer at the end.
Most of the things which interest children are in “Tell It Again”. There are play songs and learning songs, riddles and nonsense rhymes, animals and the familiar objects of a child’s life. “We all had fun making the record,” says Julie Laurence. “We hope the whole family will have fun listening.”
The music for “Tell It Again” was written for this recording. Through simple melodies and varied rhythms it seeks to recapture the wit and humor, charm and freshness which have made these ryhmes the joy of children for generations. To please young ears, instruments were chosen for which children themselves show a marked preference.
The composer and percussion player is the musician known as MOONDOG. His blind, bearded figure, in blanket-robe and sandals, is a familiar sight in midtown New York. With the sidewalk as concert platform, he performs his own music on strange instruments, fascinating professional musicians as well as casual passersby. Born Louis Hardin in Kansas, Moondog studied music at a school for the blind. But his special feeling for and use of percussion instruments was learned from the Indians with whom he grew up in the West.
The flutist JULIUS BAKER was born in Cleveland and was graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music. He played four seasons with the Cleveland Orchestra, two with the Pittsburgh Symphony, nine with the CBS Symphony until it was disbanded, and then with the Chicago Symphony. He is now on the faculty of the Juilliard School of Music and is a founder-member of the Bach Aria Group.
Julie Andrews says she enjoyed making this record of her favorite nursery rhymes. It reminded her of home in England and her three younger brothers to whom she would sing songs and read stories at bedtime. The recording also was for her a happy opportunity to know and work with one of the figures of the English stage whom she greatly admired – Martyn Green.
The young girl who became world famous overnight in “My Fair Lady” was born to the theatre. Her father and mother were a musical hall act. Julie began studying singing at seven and at twelve gave hints of her destiny singing an aria from “Mignon” at London’s Hippodrome “in a true, sweet soprano”. Her stage experience was confined to holiday roles in pantomimes until, in “Cinderella”, she caught the eye of Vida Hope, director of “The Boy Friend”, who promptly whisked her to New York. Since March 1956, when she opened on Broadway in “My Fair Lady” – the now legendary musical based on Shaw’s “Pygmalion” – audiences have swooned with delight over her portrayal of the Cockney flower girl who learned to become a great lady. In “Tell It Again” Julie Andrews has slipped away from Spain, where “the rain stays mainly in the plain”, to the Never-Never-Land where hurricanes never happen and where gardens grow silver bells and cats go to London to visit the Queen. Shedding Eliza Doolittle and her phonetic troubles, she left all tongue-twisters – such as “Betty Botter bought some butter” – to Martyn Green and sings, with simple charm and water-pure diction, about Mary and her Lamb, Little Bo-Peep and her Sheep and Miss Muffet and the Spider.
Martyn Green likes singing and acting for children. They make wonderful audiences, he says. During his many years of Gilbert and Sullivan in England and America, matinees were virtually children’s performances, with houses packed with intent, responsive young people. In recording “Tell It Again”, Martyn Green recalled that his first appearance on the stage was when he was eight, in a Christmas pantomime with his sister. He sang “Polly Put the Kettle On”. To this day he not only remembers hundreds of nursery rhymes but also composes nonsense verses and songs for his friends’ children.
The son of William Green, famous English tenor of the turn of the century, Martyn studied singing under Gustave Garcia, whose father had been the teacher of Jenny Lind. He joined the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company in 1923, later succeeding Sir Henry Lytton in the comic role. He made many tours of the United States with the company before leaving it in 1951. He fought in the first World War, enlisting at fifteen; in the second he served in the British equivalent of America’s USO until he received a direct commission in the Royal Air Force. In recent years he has starred on Broadway, has been featured in TV and in the film “The Gilbert and Sullivan Story”. His autobiography is entitled “Here’s a How-de-do”.
Julius Baker, Flute – Music and Percussion by Moondog
Produced by Young Record World for Angel Records.
Continuity and direction by Julie Laurence.
Al Gifford from Washington DC, USA, told us the following story:
“I talked to Julius Baker shortly after he recorded it and he told me that Julie Andrews had a great deal of trouble with the rythmic complexity and the recording session was lengthy as a result. I guess she is a typical soprano, no sense of rythm.”