In this information age we are all supposed to be wired in to all that’s happening. We don’t need to read newspapers because we can get it all online. And if we miss it on the first pass then we can count on a Google alert, or at least a Tweet, to bring us up to date.
Sure. Nonetheless, it’s refreshing to know that human beings are also reading our weekly publication, absorbing the contents, and making connections with what’s happening elsewhere in the world.
Last Thursday, one day after we delivered our November 6 issue with the story of Princeton’s connection to the hit musical “Godspell,” we received a letter with a Wall Street Journal review of an album released on November 5 — a 32-song collection titled “Divided & United: The Songs of the Civil War.” Among the tracks on the new collection is a song that was a best seller from 1855 (based on the sales of sheet music), “Listen to the Mockingbird.” The song has been reprised for this album, according to the Journal, through “an unadorned, mournful reading by Stuart Duncan and Dolly Parton.”
Could the Stuart Duncan of the Civil War song be any relation to our Stuart Duncan of Princeton, who helped turn Godspell into a Broadway hit back in the early 1970s?
As it turns out, no. An Internet search reveals that the Stuart Duncan of “Songs of the Civil War” is a 49-year-old fiddler from Virginia, who is known for his mastery of Americana and bluegrass music. His parents were folk musicians who played guitars and banjos (that’s not Stu and Petie Duncan) and his father was a career marine (our Stuart Duncan served briefly in the Navy).
But the Wall Street Journal clipping did reveal another Princeton connection to the Civil War CD collection. The liner notes, according to the Journal, were written by Princeton University professor Sean Wilentz, who also won a Grammy nomination in 2005 for his liner notes for Bob Dylan’s album of his 1964 Carnegie Hall concert. The reference to Wilentz prompted a review of our story on him and his Grammy nomination in the February 9, 2005, edition of U.S. 1.
Though Wilentz’s rock and roll and folk music expertise had landed him in the company of big league celebrities, the professor told our reporter he was not likely to be star struck by anyone during his Grammy weekend in Los Angeles. “Unfortunately, many of my heroes are dead. I would have loved to meet Johnny Cash. If I get to meet Dolly Parton out of this, I’d be a happy man.”
Maybe the professor got to meet Parton for the Civil War liner notes. Another story, perhaps.
So for a 46-cent stamp our mind races from Stu Duncan to Stuart Duncan to Dolly Parton and Bob Dylan and back to Dolly Parton. None of it would have happened without our eagle-eyed readers.
Election Update. New Jersey voters approved a new minimum wage — and future increases tied to the consumer price index — by more than 20 percentage points.