King of the rhyme

Occasionally — not often, but every once in a while — the Sunday Times Arts & Leisure section runs an item that is so good in some way that it makes the heartburn caused by the rest of the paper tolerable. Today the Arts & Entertainment section carries a profile of the late, inimitable Roger Miller. The profile is by Rocco Landesman, the producer who commissioned Miller to write the songs for the musical adaptation of Huckleberry Finn, “Big River.” Landesman’s profile of Miller is “Roger Miller: King of the Rhyme.”
Landesman recounts his initial 1982 approach to pitch Miller on the idea of writing the music for the show he hoped to produce: “To understate the matter, there were challenges. Miller had written very little new work in 10 years and as I spent time with him it was easy to guess the reason. His notion of being straight was to drink, snort and smoke sequentially.”
The occasion of Landesman’s piece is the Broadway debut of a partly sung, partly signed production of “Big River.” I posted a piece from the Wall Street Journal on this production a couple weeks ago. Landesman’s piece runs with an interesting account of the production: “‘Big River’ sings (and signs) on Broadway.”
HINDROCKET adds: Great report, Trunk. It occurs to me that some of our younger readers have no idea who Roger Miller was, and have never heard his wonderful classic, “King of the Road.” I’m not a good enough critic to describe “King of the Road” competently, so all I can say is, buy it–or download it on Limewire, Bear Share, iTunes or whatever–and listen to it. It is one of a kind, from an era before the compartmentalization of popular music into discrete and generally predictable categories robbed it of most of its surprise and much of its interest.


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