Tuesday, July 14, 2009

If I Could

Last night Julie was talking about her kids and their journey on a train from NYC and she used the phrase "If I could, I would..." and I piped up "That's a song!" Julie then asked what song it was, and I blanked. I knew it wasn't the title but all I could remember of the song was that it played during a poignant moment in a made-for-tv movie that I saw in the early 1970s. And that the word "hammer" was used at least once.

So... in the past I'd never had a chance of finding out what song it was. No doubt I'd be cursing my memory for days before I finally gave up on trying to figure out what song it was. But today, with search engines like Google, anything is possible.

I'd rather be a sparrow than a snail.
Yes I would, if I could, I surely would.
I'd rather be a hammer than a nail.

Yes I would, if I only could, I surely would.

It turns out that the movie was titled "Voyage of the Yes", made in 1973 and it starred Desi Arnaz Jr and Mike Evans (Lionel Jefferson on "All in the Family"). The song is El Condor Pasa, made famous by Simon and Garfunkel in 1970. I'm not sure why I keyed in on Desi Arnaz Junior's version and not the one by Simon and Garfunkel---but there you go. The memory is a strange beast.

Also interesting is how much additional information the Internet can provide. I never knew that Simon and Garfunkel had accidentally grabbed the melody El Condor Pasa which was originally written by the Peruvian composer Daniel Alomía Robles in 1913. Apparently Paul Simon was listening to a musical group, "Los Incas", while they performed the song in Paris and Simon decided he'd like to use the melody with his own lyrics. Simon was told that the song was from the 1800s and not under copyright so he wrote the song and included it on the album Bridge Over Troubled Water.

However In 1970 Alomía Robles' son, Armando Robles Godoy, filed a copyright lawsuit against Paul Simon and demonstrated that the song had been composed by his father and that his father had copyrighted the song in the United States in 1933. Oops!

I'd never have known any of that if it wasn't for Google and Wikipedia. Gotta love the Internet. Thanks, Al.

BTW, Los Incas ended up performing on "Bridge over Troubled Water" and that album ended up being Simon and Garfunkel's last studio album. It managed to get the Grammy for best record that year and the title song got song of the year. Sweet.

3 comments:

Evil Twin's Wife said...

Ya gotta love Google!

srp said...

Isn't it amazing what strange things are buried in your mind just waiting for the right moment to spring to the forefront and really weird you out? Who knew that was in there?

simplycol said...

Information at our fingertips.. what an amazing era we live in. I was always a big fan of Simon and Garfunkel so found this all quite interesting. :-)