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
"[...] 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.)