Monday, March 23, 2015

MARCH 23 = Patrick Henry, "OK", and Elvis

On this date, March 23....

In 1775:

Patrick Henry (right) delivered a powerful rebuke to British policy in America.  In order to pay for the defense of the colonies Britain had levied taxes on tea and various other goods, and this left the colonials feeling as if they had no rights in determining their future.  "No taxation without representation!" became a cry frequently heard throughout the colonies. 
 The Coercive Acts (March 1774) closed Boston to merchant shipping, and among other things, required colonists to quarter British troops. The first Continental Congress was called to consider a united American resistance to the British.  Patrick Henry, an attorney in Virginia addressed the Second Virginia Assembly on today's date in a defiant speech which ended with a phrase which would become one of the most powerful calls which would ever be heard in the course of the American Revolution:

"The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

In 1836:

The term "OK" meaning everything is alright first was printed in the Boston Morning Herald as a kind of linguistic joke, meant as a short cut for “oll korrect,” a misspelling of “all correct” which was in popular vernacular use among circles of young, educated people at the time.
Just as young people in the present day have their own slang based on distortions of common words, such as “kewl” for “cool” or frequently used internet expressions such as "LOL" for "Loads of Laughs" or "OMG" for "Oh my god!!" The young, hip crowd of the 1830s had a whole host of slang terms they abbreviated. Popular abbreviations included “KY” for “No use” (“know yuse”), “KG” for “No go” (“Know go”), and “OW” for all right (“oll wright”).  Well the editor of the Boston Morning Herald published on today's date a humorous article in which he made fun of the whole thing.  Referring to a fictional organization called  the "Anti-Bell Ringing Society ",  he said:

"The 'Chairman of the Committee on Charity Lecture Bells,' is one of the deputation, and perhaps if he should return to Boston, via Providence, he of the Journal, and his train-band, would have his 'contribution box,' et ceteras, o.k.—all correct—and cause the corks to fly, like sparks, upward."

Well the idea seems to have gradually grown in popularity appearing in print throughout the country from then on until it stuck!!

In 1961:

Elvis Presley recorded the song "I Can't Help Falling in Love" at Radio Recorders studios in Hollywood California.  This song went on to become one of the biggest hits in the career of this man who had so many hits.  But clearly, this one held a special place in "The King's" heart because he would end his concert show with it to the end of his career. The melody is based on  a classical French love song, "Plaisir D'Amour" written in 1784 by Jean-Paul-Égide Martini (1741–1816).  The lyrics are based on a poem by Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian (1755–1794), which appears in his novel "Célestine."  Elvis sung a version of the song which had been written for him by the songwriting team of Luigi Creatore and Hugo Peretti, with the help of George David Weiss.

And it was sung in the film "Blue Hawaii" not for his love interest in the movie, "Maile Duval" played by Joan Blackmun but for a much older woman - that of the character of her grandmother, "Waihila" played by Hilo Hattie. The woman some 60 years old welcomes Elvis, "Chad Gates" back to Hawaii after his time in the army.  Remember, this was at the time when Elvis himself had finished his service in the
U.S. Army (March '58 - March '60).  He tells her that he picked her up a gift while he was in Austria, a small music box which he says plays a little tune which he then sings to her. It is a very sweet moment in a movie which was OK at best.  But it was sung by a young man who in real life had lost his own much beloved mother just three years before that film in 1958.  And as I and others have said the song likely held a special meaning for Elvis for that reason.  But the song, and the album of the movie went on to reach very high on the pop song charts that year after its release on October 1 of that year along with the album of "Blue Hawaii".


Patrick Henry =

"OK" =

Elvis =

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