belatedly posted 8 Dec 06


Here's what I asked---

04 Feb 05: "The Man with the Sign" by Sheldon Harnick

Many years ago---and I *do* mean before some of you who write to me were even born---I watched a series of shows about musical comedy on PBS. Quite unusually, these shows focussed on the lyricists rather than the composers. All I remember is that the same three singers sang in each and the same on-stage narrator (Ned something?) did all the commentary. The lyricists featured included Carolyn Leigh and---Sheldon Harnick.

Sheldon Harnick was once commissioned to write a lyric to John Philip Sousa's "The Stars and Stripes Forever." He wrote "The Man with the Sign" which was the single best anthem to free speech I have ever heard. As I remember the narration, this proved too radical for the folks who'd commissioned it, so it was never sung until this PBS show.

The gist of the song was that "the man with the sign" has a very vile sign indeed: "It's wrong!/Very very wrong!"

"[...] But the man with the sign's a friend of mine,/All alone in his proud endeavor.../For the sign says to me this man is free!/---That's the glory of the stars and stripes forever!"

Now, if my Lyme-fried brain can remember that much after all these mumble-mumble years, surely someone out there with a working memory could e-mail me the full lyric, so I could put on any cd of the Sousa march and SING IT OUT! This would be very good for my morale.

Here's MA tells me---

"Way back when (or, as they say now, back in the day), there was a 13-part PBS series called Song by Song with host Ned Sherrin -- This segment was called Song by Song by Harnick, with Millicent Martin, David Kernan and Howard da Silva? He sounds like Howard da Silva. Martin, Kernan and Sherrin worked together on the original BBC That Was The Week That Was. Howard da Silva was Franklin in the Broadway and film productions of 1776 and Kernan played Edward Rutledge in the London production. Kernan was also the delicious villain, Kodaly, in the PBS version of SHE LOVES ME.
"I loved this particular segment so much, I hunched in front of my tv with my little tape recorder and taped the songs. The quality is almost indecipherable, but I've transcribed this song as well as I can. Enjoy."

MA adds: "<I can't make out the words to the piccolo part--dang it!--except "for he is entitled to his own opinion">"

My dear MA, that was well beyond the call of duty, and I'm not the only one who's indebted to you. You see, since I posted that question to my wishlist, I've had e-mails asking me to please please let them know if I got an answer, because they've been trying to find the lyric too. They googled "The Man with the Sign" and they got me instead.

As transcribed by MA, here's almost all of Sheldon Harnick's The Man with the Sign.

(If anybody out there knows the piccolo part or has any corrections or additions, please e-mail them to me so I can add them.)

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