This piece of music by Leroy Anderson (Sleighride, The Syncopated Clock, and so many others) has always excited my imagination. Who were The Phantom Regiment? When did they live? But of course Mr. Anderson never answered any of those questions. I think he wanted it to haunt you. “A shadow portrait of valor, echoing down through eternity,” one critic said of it. Yeah: we can’t identify it because it’s timeless.
Written in 1951, The Phantom Regiment kept cropping up on radio programs in my childhood. In a high school assembly, a jazz combo performed it for us–that’s how I finally learned its name. But the music itself was always there.
Close your eyes and listen. What do you see?
Do you remember Leroy Anderson? He was one of the most popular composers in America, in his time; and one of his best-known pieces was Syncopated Clock. It was chosen as the theme music for “The Late Show,” in the 1950s. Of course I never saw The Late Show, it was way past my bedtime. But Syncopated Clock was also the theme for “The Early Show.”
I offer it as a stress buster. Oh, those old movies on black-and-white TV!
Anderson was also famous for his Sleigh Ride, featuring a simulated horse (was it laughing or just neighing? I could never decide), The Phantom Regiment, and other numbers that became embedded in our pop culture. I still love to whistle a few of them.
If you’re old enough to remember these, I’m sure you still enjoy them–when you get a chance to hear them. If you’re young–well, there’s some wonderful great music waiting for you.
If your brain hasn’t been quite deflated by the nooze yet, here’s something that might finish the job. Listen at your own risk.
I remember this goofy song from 1961. My friends across the street had the record. My parents thought they were a bad influence on me. If you listen carefully, you might suspect that the performer, Welsh comedian Tommy Cooper, was a few screws short of an erector set.
Don’t Jump Off of the Roof, Dad was his one and only hit record. ‘Nuff said.
I was seven years old when this song came out in 1956. I only heard it once, but I never forgot it–because, well! What 7-year-old wouldn’t be fascinated by a train running through the middle of the house? I’m afraid I took the lyrics literally. We went to visit Grammy one night and I was kind of sleepy, coming home. So my father turned on the car radio, and this song was what I heard. Woke me right up!
Bob Hilliard wrote it, Rusty Draper and Vaughn Monroe recorded it independently of each other, and it was a big hit in both the USA and Britain.
Phoebe mentioned this 1955 popular song in a comment, and although I’m sure I hadn’t thought of it since then, I instantly remembered it. Do you?
I didn’t know, at the time, that the song was written by Dale Evans. I must’ve thought she and Roy Rogers only sang Happy Trails to You at the end of their TV show.
So here it is, Roy and Dale and The Bible Tells Me So. Go ahead, tell me that the time we live in now is better than the time we lived in then. Play me some gangsta rap.