Musical Musings 05-28: Jazz, country, and Mr. Rogers with Karin Tooley

Music Notes – Sunday, May 28th:

This week’s musician is UUCC Pianist Karin Tooley


Opening Hymn: # 301 Touch the Earth, Reach the Sky – Lewis-McLaren

Classically trained at the renowned Eastman Conservatory of Music, Maine native Grace Lewis-McLaren (b. 1939) is a Unitarian Universalist musician who has served our faith in many different roles for numerous congregations. McLaren wrote “Touch the Earth, Reach the Sky” (Singing the Living Tradition #301) to support the theme of the 1988 UU General Assembly in Palm Springs, California, where it was first sung as part of the opening ceremony.


Centering Music: I Hope You Dance – Sillers and Sanders

“I Hope You Dance” was co-written in 2000 by American songwriters Mark D. Sanders (b. 1950) and Tia Sillers (b. 1967). The song was recorded and first performed by Lee Ann Womack (b. 1966) with Sons of the Desert. “I Hope You Dance” was released in March of 2000 on Womack’s album of the same name. The song was a hit, reaching number one on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles & Tracks and Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks charts, and rising to #14 on the Billboard Hot 100. “I Hope You Dance” won numerous awards and accolades, including The Grammy Award for Best Country Song and the Country Music Association (CMA) Single of the Year. The song’s message is one of love and support from a parent to a child. In an interview with Billboard, Womack said: “It made me think about my daughters and the different times in their lives….but it can be so many things to different people. Certainly, it can represent everything a parent hopes for their child, but it can also be for a relationship that’s ending as a fond wish for the other person’s happiness or for someone graduating, having a baby, or embarking on a new path.”


Offertory: Won’t You Be my Neighbor? – Rogers

Born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Fred Rogers (1928-2003) was one of the most influential and significant figures in American television history. Rogers created and hosted the children’s television series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which ran for more than 30 years, achieving both popularity and critical acclaim, particularly for focusing on children’s emotional health and for tackling complex issues such as death and divorce. Rogers’ remarkable career earned numerous accolades, including a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award (1997) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2002). One lesser-known fact about Fred Rogers is that he was a classically trained pianist and composer, earning a bachelor’s degree in music from Rollins College in 1951. Written by Rogers in 1967, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” became the iconic theme song for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and was also used by director Morgan Neville as the title of his award-winning 2018 documentary about the life and work of Rogers. “Sometimes People Are Good” (1967) are “It’s You I Like” (1971) are two more of the over 200 original songs Rogers wrote and performed for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.


Closing Hymn: #338 I Seek the Spirit of a Child – English Folk Song/Seaburg

#338 in Singing the Living Tradition, “I Seek the Spirit of a Child” is a setting of The Sussex Carol, an English folk song most often associated with the Christmas carol “On Christmas Night All Christians Sing”. The words were written by Universalist/UU Minister Carl Seaburg (1922-1998), who is also responsible for several of the other songs in our hymnbook, including “Be That Guide” (#124), “God Who Fills the Universe” (#37), and “Find a Stillness” (#352).  


Postlude: Unsquare Dance – Brubeck

The son of a classically trained pianist, American pianist and composer Dave Brubeck (1920-2012) pushed the boundaries of music, frequently blending jazz with elements of classical and world music. A Kennedy Center Honoree and recipient of the National Medal of the Arts and a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award, Brubeck was most famously known for his groundbreaking 1961 album Time Out, which included the jazz standard “Take Five” and would become the first jazz album ever to sell more than a million copies. “Unsquare Dance” was featured on Brubeck’s follow-up album Time Further Out and was a hit single in the U.S. and U.K. The title “Unsquare Dance” was inspired by the song’s blend of blues and western style within an irregular 7/4 meter.

                                                            -Mike Carney, UUCC Music Director