I was actually looking forward to September. The heat would finally settle down, it would get cooler, the leaves would change, and I was organizing all my writing to dos for both HAND/EYE and novels, and I was back on track to eating right and getting in shape. All of it got thrown for a loop when on September 1st I took Alvah on a much needed long walk. Just as I reached the entry to our private, little road, I took a spill and twisted my left ankle and scraped my right leg. Resulting in a strict regimen of rest and immobility. In other words, I’m stuck in bed.
Now I’ve done the Truman Capote way of writing in bed, but I really wanted to get my days going by getting up early, making breakfast, exercising, then spend the day writing. No more lounging in sweats or pyjamas. The dog days of summer were gone, finito, kaput!
And now, I’m in bed with two laptops. I’m using the netbook for non-related work stuff since it’s lighter and doesn’t get as hot as the HP. For all the work stuff, I have to have the bigger laptop on the bedtray and that’s a bit cumbersome since I have to have my leg elevated (the ankle is still very swollen.)
Anyway, I thought that today, the third day of September, I would do something different since I’m not inspired to write anything about writing, Julius, or The Wilde Solution, and I thought a nice melancholy song by Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson would do for this rainy day.
September Song was written for the 1938 musical Knickerbocker Holiday. Weill and Anderson wrote it for Walter Houston’s gravelly voice and low range. The song is essentially about an older man’s lament about his passing youth. Others have sung the song from Bing Crosby to Lou Reed. Women have sung it too, including Lotte Lenya, Eartha Kitt, Lena Horn, Sarah Vaughn, and the great Ella Fitzgerald.
And by the way, Weill collaborated with Bertolt Brecht in 1928 for the theatrical production of The Three Penny Opera (made into a film by the GREAT German expressionist G.W. Pabst). However, in 1930, Weill’s and Brecht’s successful working relationship ended because of politics. According to Lotte Lenya (who was married to the composer) Weill had commented that he was unable to “set the communist party manifesto to music.”
And you all know what happened to Brecht, right? Subpoenaed in 1947 to appear in front of the House of Un-American Activities Committee (he was one of the Hollywood 19 that later got whittled down to ten). Unlike the other ten who refused to testify and later went to jail, Brecht appeared and answered the questions, saying he was never a member of the Communist Party. During his time in front of the witch hunters, he joked throughout the proceedings, and had translators on hand. The day after his testimony, he left for Europe and never returned to the United States.
Technically Brecht was not a member of the Communist Party, but was heavily influenced by the dissident communist Karl Korsch’s version of the Marxist dialectic, which became a major factor of Brecht’s aesthetic theory and theatrical practice. In 1954, Brecht won The International Stalin Price for Strengthening Peace Among Peoples (blacklisted screenwriter Howard Fast won it the year before.)
And there you have it, a post that somehow meandered from a sprained ankle to a song and its composer to Bertolt Brecht. At least you learned something new.