This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
Poor old Jerusalem, having three world-wide religions fighting over it – killing, maiming, raping, torturing, destroying, slaughtering all in the name of peace and love.
I can't help but feel sorry for its citizens (except those who are complicit in the above). That's all I'll say. The music, I hope, will go just a tiny way to ameliorate the situation.
There's no better way to start this column than with the great ODETTA.
I imagine most readers know about Odetta. If by chance you don't, check her out – she's far too important for me to gloss over in a paragraph or two. She needs a full column. One day. She performs O Jerusalem.
♫ Odetta - O Jerusalem
SHAWN COLVIN got into music by listening to her dad's record.
Since then she's played with many of the artists she listened to as a kiddie, and younger artists are lining up to play with her these days. Her contribution to today's topic is called American Jerusalem.
♫ Shawn Colvin - American Jerusalem
I'm surprised nobody has made a film about CARLO GESUALDO, who was a composer of considerable facility.
Carlo was a minor prince of some minor area in southern Italy in the 16th century who married his first cousin (a lot of that going on back then).
She started an affair with a duke and managed to keep it secret for quite a while until one day Carlo came home and found Donna Maria and Fabrizio (for those were their names) at it in the marital bed.
Well, Carlo ran them through with his sword (a large number of times apparently), and he shot the duke as well. He then left their mutilated bodies in front of the palace for all to see.
The authorities couldn't do a thing about it 'coz he was a prince (hmmm), however, Donna Maria's and Fabrizio's families weren't going to let the matter rest.
Carlo then bumped off his father-in-law when he came after him. Some say that he also murdered his son because he thought that the duke might be the father. He then hired a whole bunch of bodyguards and hightailed it out of town.
He settled in Ferrara and married again (brave woman) and continued composing – he hired singers and musicians to play his compositions. After a few years, he returned to his castle in his hometown (I guess the hue and cry must have died down, although he still had his bodyguards) and carried on creating music (more hired folks – he must have been worth a bit).
Carlo became estranged from his new(ish) wife who claimed he abused her and she tried to get a divorce. When that failed she left town and went to live with her brother.
According to one biographer, "She seems to have been a very virtuous lady, for there is no record of his having killed her." He's referring to Carlo, of course, not the brother.
Later Carlo suffered severe depression and he started paying his servants to beat him daily as a penance (they probably would have done it for nothing) and that continued for the rest of his life.
In spite of all the above, he composed some of the most beautiful music ever written. This is Venit lumen tuum Jerusalem (Your light has come, Jerusalem).
♫ Gesualdo - Venit lumen tuum Jerusalem
I'm a bit surprised that there were very few songs about Jerusalem in my gospel music records. Even the great Mahalia had only one (in my collection, although she may have recorded more). This is the best of the songs I found. It's by SOUTHERN JUBILEES.
I think that's a picture of the group. The track I selected was on a compilation album and there was no information about them. There seem to several groups with the same or similar names so I won't say anything in case I get it wrong.
Here they are with There's a Man in Jerusalem.
♫ The Southern Jubilees - There's A Man In Jerusalem
J.S. BACH composed only one cantata that specifically references Jerusalem. That's rather a surprise as he often wrote several on the same theme.
Anyway, J.S. wrote this for the change of council (or Ratswechsel) in Leipzig where he was living at the time. This isn't the only one he produced for this purpose; there are four others that do the same thing but none of them mention Jerusalem.
It's the cantata BWV 119, Preise Jerusalem, den Herrn (Praise the Lord, o Jerusalem), the first movement.
♫ JS Bach - Preise Jerusalem, den Herrn BWV 119 (1)
I think DON MCLEAN is being extremely optimistic with his song.
It's from an album called "Believers" so that may be why. I don't know about the all roads leading to Jerusalem, as he sings in the song; I thought that was Rome, a city I'd much rather visit. Don's song is called Jerusalem.
♫ Don McLean - Jerusalem
The NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND's contribution is from the second of their interesting experiments of bringing old country artists together with rock musicians and younger country performers.
These were all a resounding success and they were called "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," named after the Carter Family song. Indeed, Maybelle Carter was on the first of these and her daughters June, Anita and Helen were on the second one, from which this song is taken.
There are no Carters on the track, though, which is called Don't You Hear Jerusalem Moan.
♫ Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Don't You Hear Jerusalem Moan
STEVE EARLE is multi-talented.
Besides being a musician and songwriter of note, he's acted in films and television, he's written a novel, a bunch of short stories and a play. He's also been married seven times (twice to the same woman) and he's a political activist for causes with which most of the readers would agree.
Oh, he sings a bit too, and here he does just that on Jerusalem.
♫ Steve Earle - Jerusalem
Back in 1804, William Blake wrote a poem called "And did those feet in ancient time.” The composer Hubert Parry later wrote some music for this poem and called it the more manageable Jerusalem.
It was instantly popular and I'll say is pretty stirring even though I'm not English (for it is about England in spite of its title).
It's usually performed as a choral work but today it's sung as a solo by the opera singer LESLEY GARRETT.
Well, sort of solo. It sounds to me as if they brought in a rock & roll drummer to accompany her along with the choir.
♫ Lesley Garrett - Jerusalem
I'm not surprised that DAVID OLNEY has the best song about the city.
He has a knack of hitting the essence of a song spot on. He does so in this one, Jerusalem Tomorrow.
♫ David Olney - Jerusalem Tomorrow