July 21, 2023

“Everybody loves a lover” (as Shakespeare never said)...

On July 21, 1958, a week after being released, Doris Day’s recording of the song “Everybody Loves a Lover” entered the Billboard Top 40.

The 45 RPM single, issued by Columbia Records, eventually reached #6 on both the CashBox and Billboard charts.

It was a last big charting hit in the US for Day and has remained one of her most popular songs.

The lyrics were written by veteran lyricist Richard Adler; the music by composer Robert Allen.

Adler and Allen had previously collaborated on the songs for the 1954 Broadway musical The Pajama Game, which was a huge success.

In 1957, Doris Day was tapped as the female lead for the movie adaptation, which was also highly successful.

After working on The Pajama Game, Day told Adler she was looking for a novelty song to record.

Adler’s marriage to his first wife, songwriter and playwright Marion Hart, had hit the rocks at the time — a fact that led, ironically, to the song he wrote for Day.

On a trip to Europe in 1957, he had been introduced to actress and singer Sally Ann Howes.

According to Adler, it was love at first sight.

On January 1, 1958, the same day his divorce from Marion was finalized, Adler married Sally Ann.

Marion was apparently furious and threatened to ruin Adler’s career by publicly attacking him as a philanderer in the news media.

In his 1990 autobiography, You Gotta Have Heart, Adler says he called his lawyer, Sidney Cohn, and expressed his concerns about her threat.

Cohn felt press coverage of Adler’s love for and marriage to Howes was unlikely to create a scandal that would hurt his songwriting career.

“Be happy,” he told Adler. You know what Shakespeare said. All the world loves a lover.”

Adler recalled thinking: “Shakespeare doesn’t know what Marion said. Still, I could relax now, think about the future, and get back to writing.”

When Doris Day approached him about writing a novelty song for her, he remembered the line Cohn had attributed to Shakespeare.

In fact, “All the world loves a lover” doesn’t appear in any of William Shakespeare’s works. Nor did he ever use the words “Everybody loves a lover.”

From what I can tell, the Shakespeare line that comes closest is in his play As You Like It. In Act 3, Scene 4, the character Rosalind says: “The sight of lovers feedeth those in love.”

Some people have attributed “Everybody loves a lover” to American writer and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, probably because he did say something like it. In 1841, Emerson wrote in his essay “Love,” that “All mankind love a lover.”

However, it appears that Richard Adler deserves credit for creating the now proverbial formulation “Everybody loves a lover.”

The biography Doris Day: Sentimental Journey (2010) by Garry McGee says Adler remembered Cohn’s mistaken Shakespeare quote then “took the line, reworked the wording, and came up with lyrics that became ‘Everybody Loves a Lover.’ He met with composer Bob Allen and in a short time the two had a completed song, which they felt was a hit.”

They were right. The song was a hit for Day and was covered by a long list of other singers and bands.

My own favorite is the classic early rock version recorded by The Shirelles in 1962.

Adler’s use of “Everybody loves a lover” as both the title and the first line in the lyrics of what became a highly popular song also made those words a famous quotation, though most people don’t know who wrote them.

In case you want to queue up one of the many versions of song on YouTube and sing along, you can find the full lyrics on these sites.

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July 19, 2023

The origins of “V for Victory!”

Almost everyone is familiar with the phrase “V for Victory” and the two-fingered V-for-victory hand gesture popularized by
Winston Churchill during World War II.

But few people today are aware of their origin.

The use of “V” as a symbolic message of defiant resistance to tyranny was first proposed by Victor de Laveleye, a member of the Belgian Parliament who went into exile in England after the Nazis invaded Belgium in 1940.

De Laveleye worked for the BBC during the war, broadcasting regular shortwave radio announcements to his countrymen in Belgium.

In his broadcast on January 14, 1941, de Laveleye proposed what became the “V campaign.”

“I am proposing to you as a rallying emblem the letter V,” he said, “because V is the first letter of the words ‘Victoire’ in French, and ‘Vrijheid’ in Flemish [the two major languages of people in Belgium]...the Victory which will give us back our freedom, the Victory of our good friends the English. Their word for Victory also begins with V. As you see, things fit all round.”

Shortly after de Laveleye’s broadcast, Belgians began surreptitiously chalking and painting V’s on the walls of buildings in Belgium.

Soon, the V symbol began appearing as defiant graffiti in other Nazi-occupied countries.  

In a radio speech on July 19, 1941, British Prime Minister Churchill announced an effort to actively promote the V campaign throughout Europe.

“The V sign is the symbol of the unconquerable will of the occupied territories and a portent of the fate awaiting Nazi tyranny,” Churchill said. “So long as the peoples continue to refuse all collaboration with the invader it is sure that his cause will perish and that Europe will be liberated.”

The V campaign was heavily publicized by the BBC and soon became highly popular throughout Europe.

As the hand gesture and “V” graffiti spread in German-occupied countries, it annoyed the Nazis enough for them to try to undercut its symbolic value.

Nazi propaganda started claiming that V stood for the German word viktoria and that the use of V’s by civilians was a sign of their support for victory by Germany.

But, as most people knew, that was just another example of a “big lie” by the Nazis.

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July 16, 2023

“Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”

On July 16, 1964, at the Republican National Convention in San Francisco, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater uttered his most remembered quotation in his speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination:

“Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice,” he said. “And…moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”

Those words quickly became both famous and infamous.

They resonated in a positive way with Conservative Republicans, who were beginning their long domination of the Republican Party.

Democrats, including the Democratic candidate, incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson, pounced on them as proof that Goldwater was a dangerous war-mongering extremist who might be crazy enough to start a nuclear war. (A characterization masterfully capitalized on in the Johnson campaign’s notorious “Daisy ad.”)

It’s true that Goldwater believed America needed a strong military and should use it aggressively it to fight the spread of Communism in Southeast Asia and elsewhere.

But this view wasn’t really all that different from the position of most high-profile Democrats in the 1960s, including President John F. Kennedy and his Vice President Lyndon Johnson, who became president in November 1963 after Kennedy was assassinated.

Nonetheless, the Democrats’ portrayal of Goldwater as an extremist nut was effective and helped Johnson win a landslide victory in the November 1964 presidential election.

In the decades since then, Goldwater’s famous quote has also been misused to try to justify extreme positions or actions that bear little or no relation to what Goldwater actually believed or would have condoned.

For example, when the “Obamacare” health insurance legislation was approved by Congress, a protester hurled a brick through the office window of the Monroe County Democratic Committee headquarters in Rochester, New York. A note attached to the brick said “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”

Barry Goldwater had strong libertarian views and was generally against big government.

But he would never have supported vandalism in the name of politics or liked having his words associated with it.

This seems clear not only from Goldwater’s political record, but also from the words he spoke right after the famous quote in his 1964 acceptance speech.

Here’s what he said in that key part of the address:

“I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

Why, the beauty of the very system we Republicans are pledged to restore and revitalize — the beauty of this Federal system of ours — is in its reconciliation of diversity with unity.

We must not see malice in honest differences of opinion, and no matter how great, so long as they are not inconsistent with the pledges we have given to each other in and through our Constitution.

Our Republican cause is not to level out the world or make its people conform in computer regimented sameness. Our Republican cause is to free our people and light the way for liberty throughout the world.

Ours is a very human cause for very humane goals.”

In this era of increasingly uncivil discourse, the sentences that come after Goldwater’s famous quotation are also worth remembering. 

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