Slaughter on Tenth Avenue by Richard Rodgers, Orchestrated by Don Walker, and Conducted by John Wilson

Now, before I go into a couple of my bonny’s more recent musical missteps that have done their part to annoy the hell out of me, I think it’s only fair to share the best clips available of John Wilson’s own 24-year-old orchestra—cannily named, as I have mentioned, the John Wilson Orchestra—which, out of over 200(!) on YouTube in nine years, come down to about three, maybe four of those clips spread out through 2009-2017.

So in no particular order: This is from their 2012 show “Broadway Sounds” at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall in London, which seats 5200, with standing room for 1300 on the ground floor (tickets for which go for only 6L and for which people camp out overnight at the box office like it was goddamn Winterland). This is pertinent, because it seems like the JWO only does its best work when it can blast the roof off a barn.

I had the old Ben Bagley recording and the 1983 Broadway revival recording (conducted by John Mauceri) of the Rodgers & Hart show On Your Toes—which of course includes the climactic ballet “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue”—but both producer Bagley as well as musical theater preservationist Mauceri put on disc the 1936 Robert Russell Bennett orchestration rather than the 1954 one by Don Walker. Our John, being John (I’m starting to get into his “ear”), chose the Walker score to play in Albert Hall, and for once he was entirely right.

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“Where Or When” by Rodgers & Hart Sung by Ellen Burstyn in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Directed by Martin Scorsese, 1974

When you’re awake
The things you think
Come from the dreams you dream
Thought has wings
And lots of things
Are seldom what they seem

In this, Scorsese’s fourth feature, Ellen Burstyn plays Alice Hyatt, a New Mexico housewife suddenly widowed and left without means of support, who decides to try to make a go of it as a professional singer. When I was 19 I strongly identified with Alice. She was also the one who got me started thinking it might be fun to have a son. Seven years later I got to try that out.