Blood, sweat and tears — and toil…

Almost everything most people know about the origin of the phrase “blood, sweat and tears” is wrong. Some people think Winston Churchill coined it in the famous speech he gave to the British House of Commons on May 13, 1940. But, in fact, Churchill didn’t coin the phrase. Nor did he say it in that … Read more

How “God Bless America” created a musical duel between Woody Guthrie and Irving Berlin

In 1917, during World War I, American songwriter Irving Berlin was drafted into the U.S. Army. He was already a successful songwriter at that point, known for huge hits like “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” (1911) and “A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody” (1915). Berlin was stationed at Camp Upton in Yaphank, New York. Not long … Read more

A little tea and sympathy (and sex and censorship)…

Back in my college days, I tended to snigger at drug references in rock songs. So, I probably sniggered when I first heard Mick Jagger sing the lines in the Rolling Stones’ 1969 song “Let It Bleed” that go:       “Baby, you can rest your weary head right on me         And there will always … Read more