Thursday, January 27, 2000

Vess Ossman charted with “The Old Folks at Home” 100 years ago today (1/27/1900)

First posted 1/24/2020.

The Old Folks at Home (Swanee River)

Vess Ossman

Writer(s): Stephen Foster (see lyrics here)

First Charted: January 27, 1900

Peak: 2 US (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 20.0 (sheet music)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, -- streaming



Stephen Foster wrote and published this minstrel song (also known as “Swanee River”) in 1851. E.P. Christy commissioned the song to be used by his troupe, Christy’s Minstrels. Christy was credited as the song’s creator on early sheet music printings, WM so Foster didn’t directly profit much from the song, WK which was the most popular song ever published at that time WM with estimates as high as 20 million. PM

Foster had most of the lyrics writte, but was struggling for a name for the river in the opening line. His brother suggested the Yazoo River in Mississippi and the Pee Dee River in South Carolina before consulting an atlas and coming up with the Suwannee River in Florida. Foster said, “That’s it exactly!” WK He deliberately misspelled it as “Swanee” to fit the melody. WK

Foster’s ballad, written in an exaggerated dialect to capture the language of the black slaves who worked cotton plantations before the Civil War, glorified antebellum Southern life. SS As a result, it sparked Florida tourism in the 1880s from people eager to see the “symbolic river and idyllic home” described by the song. WM Ironically, Foster himself never visited the state. WM In 1935, Florida named it their state song. The lyrics were revised in 2008 to eliminate racially offensive terms. SS

The first charted version of the song came more than forty years after its publication when Len Spencer took it to #1 in 1892. It was one of nine versions to chart between 1892 and 1937. Other versions were by the Haydn Quartet (#4, 1904), Louise Homer (#6, 1905), Alma Gluck (#3, 1915), Taylor Trio (#4, 1916), Oscar Seagle (#8, 1919), Jimmie Lunceford (#19, 1936), and Bunny Berigan (#18, 1937). PM However, the highest ranked in Dave’s Music Database is the banjo instrumental by Vess Ossman. He was considered “The King of the Banjo” and “the foremost recorded ragtime musician of the original ragtime era.” PM

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Friday, January 14, 2000

Puccini’s Tosca world premiered 100 years ago today (1/14/1900)

First posted 10/16/2008; updated 1/10/2020.


Giacomo Puccini (composer)

Buy Here:

World Premiere: 1/14/1900 in Rome

U.S. Premiere: 2/4/1901

Peak: --

Sales (in millions): --

Genre: opera

Parts/Movements: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

    Act I:

  • No. 1a, "Ah! Finalmente!"
  • No. 1b, "E sempre lava!"
  • No. 1c, "Sante ampolle!"
  • No. 2, "Recondita armonia"
  • No. 3a, "Mario! Mario! Mario!"
  • No. 3b, "Perche chiuso?"
  • No. 3c, "Ora stammi a sentir"
  • No. 3d, "Non la sospiri"
  • No. 3e, "Or lasciami al lavoro"
  • No. 3f, "Ah, quegli occhi!"
  • No. 4, "E buona la mia Tosca"
  • No. 5, "Sommo giubilo"
  • No. 6a, "Un tal baccano in chiesa!"
  • No. 6b, "Fu grave sbaglio"
  • No. 7a, "Or tutto e chiaro"
  • No. 7b, "Tosca divina"
  • No. 7c, "O che v'offende"
  • No. 8, "Tre sbirri" (Te Deum)

    Act II:

  • No. 9a, "Tosca e un buon falco"
  • No. 9b, "Ella verra"
  • No. 10a, "Sale, ascende... A te quest'inno" (Cantata)
  • No. 10b, "Mario, tu qui?"
  • No. 11a, "La povera mia cena"
  • No. 11b, "Gia, mi dicon venal"
  • No. 12, "Vissi d'arte"
  • No. 13a, "Sei troppo bella"
  • No. 13b, "Tosca, finalmente mia!"

    Act III:

  • No. 14, Prelude
  • No. 15a, "Io de' sospiri"
  • No 15b, "Mario Cavaradossi?"
  • No. 16, "E lucevan le stelle"
  • No. 17a, "Franchigia a Floria Tosca"
  • No. 17b, "O dolci mani"
  • No. 17c, "Senti, l'ora e vicina"
  • No. 18a, "Amaro sol per te"
  • No. 18b, "Trionfa!... Di nova speme"
  • No. 19a, "Son pronto"
  • No. 19b, "Com'e lunga l'attesa!"

Total Running Time: 112:50


4.667 out of 5.00 (average of 3 ratings)


About the Album:

When Puccini started writing Tosca, he’d already composed four operas, including the popular La Bohème. In “a marked change from the late Romantic sentimentality” AMG of that work, Tosca was an exploration of “the dark side of human emotion.” AMG It “premiered in 1900 at Rome’s Teatro Costanzi to a temperate critical reception.” AMG

Puccini first came across Victorien Sardou’s play La Tosca in 1889, two years after its premiere. He didn’t start writing his opera based on the play until 1895, largely because of waning interest in the play, which may have been stirred by Sardou’s admission that he disliked Puccini’s music. AMG Eventually Giulio Ricordi, Puccini’s publisher, convince the composer to complete the opera. AMG

“Puccini creates coherence between story and music with themes that recur in association with characters and concepts. The opera begins as the orchestra states the low brass-laden three-chord motive outlining the sinister interval of a tritone (B flat major, A flat major, E major) that we come later in Act One to associate with the villainous confessor and executioner Scarpia. An expansive, major-mode theme, orchestrated for strings, is introduced in Act One as Tosca’s and Cavaradossi’s love music, and returns in Act Two, when Tosca enters Scarpia’s chamber and as Cavaradossi is led from the torture chamber to Tosca, and in Act Three, as pantomime music as Cavaradossi writes his farewell to Tosca.” AMG

Although the continuous swaths of sound in Puccini’s score avoid the sharp delineations between recitative and aria of earlier nineteenth century Italian operas, arias still function to uncover the emotions of the central characters in Tosca. Tosca utters her Act Two supplication Vissi d’arte in a soaring melodic idiom, reinforced by a rich harmonic language and orchestral palette.” AMG

“The cello melody that accompanied Tosca’s first entrance and meeting with Cavaradossi in Act One, here accompanies Tosca’s prayer, illustrating the extent to which love is Tosca’s true religion. In Cavaradossi’s Act Three aria, E lucevan le stelle, the orchestra sings with him at key utterances in desperately empty octaves.” AMG

“Puccini also upheld here the tradition of monumental end-of-act finales. The Act One finale (Tre sbirri...una carrozza) is a cleverly crafted juxtaposition of diagetic and non-diagetic music in which the Latin chorus of working-class believers singing the Te Deum and the intermittent utterances of the godless Scarpia mesh musically on different planes of realistic perception. The Act Two finale, which grows out of Tosca’s and Cavaradossi’s duet, is a tragic rush as Sciaronne, Spoletta, and a chorus of soldiers chase Tosca to her death. The E minor tonality that accompanied Scarpia’s death at Tosca’s hands in Act Two, here accompanies her own demise, and binds Tosca and Scarpia beyond their earthly entanglement.” AMG


The 1953 recording of Tosca, featuring Maria Callas, is in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Review Sources:

Tuesday, January 11, 2000

3 Doors Down released “Kryptonite”

First posted 5/9/2020; updated 1/28/2021.


3 Doors Down

Writer(s): Brad Arnold, Matt Roberts, Todd Harrell (see lyrics here)

Released: January 11, 2000

First Charted: February 5, 2000

Peak: 3 US, 15 RR, 4 A40, 24 AA, 19 AR, 111 MR, 17 UK, 6 CN, 8 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, 0.2 UK, 5.27 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 390.7 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

3 Doors Down owes their first hit, and perhaps their career, to the fact that Brad Arnold, the band’s lead singer, was bad at math. As he says, when he was fifteen his teacher knew he wasn’t good at the subject, but let him go. Arnold entertained himself in class by writing, as he says, probably “about half of that Better Life album.” SF

One of those songs in particular started out as Arnold tapping on his desk. That became the beat for “Krpytonite.” SF It was, he says, only the third or fourth song he’d ever written. SF

Lyrically, the song is a series of questions like “If I fall down, will you be there for me?” and “If I go crazy, will you still call me Superman?” However, Arnold says, “It’s easy to be there for someone when they’re down. But it’s not always easy to be there for somebody when they’re doing good.” SF The song, therefore, became not about being there for someone in their time of need, but not being jealous when the person is successful.

Arnold says the song actually has very little to do with Superman, despite the line dropping his name and the title referencing the substance which renders the hero powerless. SF The video, however, capitalized on the hero angle, portraying an old man donning a superhero costume to chase down and capture a man who harasses and abducts a woman. WK

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