The Man is an audio novel set in the first decades of the 20th century
The stories and original songs are written by Steve Gillette
Track 19. “Wade In the Water”
Years before, when Danny and Johnny were just kids, Jack would pick up the tempo and keep things going with an old spiritual, a song that Danny thought was kind of an improbable hymn. He wondered what it meant, that “God’s gonna trouble the water.”
Somebody said that the song was a coded message for the runaway slaves to avoid trackers. But it also seemed to offer the idea that life was there to be experienced completely, and without fear.
© 2010, Compass Rose Music, BMI
Born into slavery in Maryland, Harriet Tubman escaped to Philadelphia and then returned south to liberate family members. Eventually, she made thirteen missions to rescue at least seventy enslaved people, using the network of safe houses known as the Underground Railroad.
During the American Civil War, she served as an armed scout and spy for the Union Army. She used this song to warn slaves to take to the water to put the dogs off their trail. The lyrics to "Wade in the Water" were first published in 1901 in New Jubilee Songs as Sung by the Fisk Jubilee Singers.
Wade In the Water
Must have been the children of the Israelite
Wade in the water, God’s gonna trouble the water.
See them children dressed in red
Must have been the children that Moses led
Wade in the water, God’s gonna trouble the water.
See those children dressed in black
Must be the hypocrites turning back
Wade in the water, God’s gonna trouble the water.
Wade in the water, wade in the water children now
Wade in the water, God’s gonna trouble the water
Sweet Honey and the Rock recorded this version of the song during a sound check for a concert at Koerner Hall in Toronto.
And here’s Eva Cassidy’s wonderful treatment of the song.
For our version of the song, we had Scott Petito on bass, Randy Wolchek on piano and Jack Williams on guitar. Peter Eklund wrote the charts for the horns and played cornet while Peter Davis played alto saxophone and Dave Davies played trombone. Greg Artzner, Terry Leonino and Kim and Reggie Harris created the vocal arrangement and sang the harmonies.
From the Book:
Billie Holiday helped her mother open a restaurant called “Mom Holiday’s.” She said, “It kept Mom busy and happy and stopped her from worrying and watching over me.” But her mom began borrowing large amounts from her to support the restaurant. There came a time when Billie was short on funds. "I needed some money one night and I knew Mom was sure to have some,” she said. “So I walked in the restaurant like a stockholder and asked. Mom turned me down flat. She wouldn't give me a cent.” The two argued, and Billie shouted, “God bless the child that's got his own,” and stormed out. With her pianist, Arthur Herzog, she wrote “God Bless the Child.” The song became her most popular record, selling over a million copies.
In June of 1942, she recorded “Trav’lin’ Light” with Whiteman for a new label, Capitol Records. Because she was still under contract to Columbia, she used the pseudonym “Lady Day.” In August of 1944, she was signed to Decca Records, and her first recording was “Lover Man,” which became one of her biggest hits. A month later, she recorded “That Ole Devil Called Love,” “Big Stuff,” and “Don’t Explain.” She wrote “Don’t Explain” after she caught her husband, Jimmy Monroe, with lipstick on his collar.
These songs were successful on what they were calling the ‘pop’ charts, but I had to admit that my favorites were among those that she recorded with Lester Young. The clean, spare arrangements with Teddy Wilson and Lester and Jo Jones, on those Brunswick sessions still thrilled me.
Lester had gone on to work with Nat ‘King’ Cole, and later to rejoin the Basie band. His studio recordings are relatively sparse during the 1942 to 1943 period, largely due to the recording ban by the American Federation of Musicians during the war.
In December 1943, he went back to work with Count Basie until he was drafted into the army. In August 1944, he appeared in a short film made by Gjon Mili called Jammin’ the Blues, with Jo Jones on drums, Harry Edison on trumpet, and Illinois Jacquet also on saxophone.
In September 1944, Young and Jo Jones were in Los Angeles with the Basie Band when they were inducted into the US Army. Unlike many white musicians, who were placed in band outfits such as the ones led by Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw, Young was assigned to the regular army where he was not allowed to play his saxophone. Based in Ft. McClellan, Alabama, he was thrust into the worst possible environment for a Negro musician who had been used to earning a good living and enjoying the respect of his peers and white fans as well.
Cut off from his playing, he was unable to cope with military discipline and the physical demands of training, on top of the extreme racism of the time and that place. Young was caught with marijuana, court-martialed, and served one terrible year in a military detention barracks. He was dishonorably discharged in late 1945. His experience inspired his composition “D.B. Blues.” (D.B. stands for detention barracks)
For talented Negro musicians in the pre-war era, there was the possibility of economic stability and an improved participation in the dominant culture. Jazz was becoming accepted as an original American art form, and players were accepted as American artists. All that changed with the war. But then, war is hell and there was terrible deprivation and savagery for those caught in the middle of it.
U.S. Army troops began landing at Anzio Beach in Italy in late January of 1944. Designated Operation Shingle, the US 45th Infantry Division would hold their ground against violent assaults for four months. On the Eastern front, the two-year Siege of Leningrad ended. In the Pacific, American forces landed on Kwajalein Atoll, in the Japanese-held Marshall Islands.
In the New York Times I found an amazing story. British Royal Air Force Flight Sergeant Nicholas Alkemade’s bomber was hit by flak over Germany and he had to bail out without a parachute from a height of over thirteen-thousand feet. Tree branches broke his fall and he landed in deep snow without serious injury.
We had heard scattered reports of organized concentration camps in Germany and Poland, housing many thousands of Jews, Catholics and Romany people, but it was difficult to confirm any of it. On April 4th, an Allied photo-reconnaissance plane was able to photograph the Auschwitz concentration camp. On the 10th of April, Rudolf Vrba and Alfréd Wetzler were able to escape from Auschwitz. They wrote what was to become known as the Vrba-Wetzler report, a detailed description of the extermination of Jews in the camp.
The Allied forces were gaining ground in Italy, and on the 4th of June, Rome was reached and became the first Axis capital to fall. Also on the 4th, the United States Navy captured the German submarine U-505, and some significant intelligence was acquired.
On June 5th, British Group Captain James Stagg forecast improvement in weather conditions over the English Channel, which would permit the following day's Normandy landings to take place. The momentous ‘D-day’ invasion had been postponed the previous day because of unfavorable weather.
At 10:15 PM, the BBC transmitted the agreed upon coded message which included the second line of the Paul Verlaine poem “Chanson d’automne” to the French Resistance, indicating that the invasion of Europe was about to begin. More than 1,000 British bombers dropped 5,000 tons of bombs on German gun batteries on the Normandy coast, in preparation for the D-Day landings.
The next day, June 6th, 155,000 Allied troops transported from England, landed on the beaches of Normandy, beginning Operation Overlord and the invasion of France. The Allied soldiers quickly broke through the Atlantic Wall and pushed inland, in the largest amphibious military operation in history. This operation began the liberation of France, and also weakened the Nazi hold on Europe.
In July, 1st Lieutenant Jackie Robinson was arrested and court-martialed, for refusing to move to the back of a segregated US Army bus at Camp Hood in Texas. He was eventually acquitted. He would later sign a contract with the Montreal Royals baseball team, and famously join the New York Yankees.
Also in July, the Bretton Woods Conference ended in New Hampshire with agreements signed to set up the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade as well as the International Monetary Fund.
Crowds of French people lined the Champs Élysées following the Liberation of Paris on August 26th. In the years since Johnny’s disappearance on his way to Paris that December, the city has had special significance for me. It’s as if some part of me resides there.
On August 4th, 1944, acting on a tip from an informer, the Gestapo discovered a sealed-off area in an Amsterdam warehouse, where they found Anne Frank and her family hiding. After they were captured they were sent to concentration camps. On September 2nd, Anne and her family were placed on the last transport train to Auschwitz, arriving three days later. In October, Anne and her sister Margot were sent from Auschwitz to the Bergen-Belsen camp. All of them would perish in the camps, except for Anne's father, Otto Frank.
Between October 23rd and the 26th, the Japanese fleet was engaged at the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines. This was the largest naval battle in history. The combined United States and Australian forces decisively defeated the Imperial Japanese Navy. This was the first battle in which Japanese aircraft carried out organized kamikaze attacks.
Here at home, the ballet Appalachian Spring, created by Martha Graham with music by Aaron Copland, debuted at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., with Graham in the lead role. In November, the presidential election giving Roosevelt a fourth term was decided in a landslide victory over the Republican, Thomas E. Dewey.
These years were extremely difficult for all of us. Those here at home worried constantly about loved ones in the war, and it was difficult to know what was happening there day to day. Letters were precious, but slow to come, and censored. The newsreels were the only real glimpse we had of the fighting, and the images were horrendous, always delivered with a strong dose of patriotic fervor.
I was so alone, as were so many of the people I encountered in the theaters, and yet we all supported the cause, especially those of us with children in harm's way. After the loss of my son in December of 1944, my dread, which was always accompanied by an anxious fascination with the machinery of warfare, turned to a darker brooding; while still hoping for an outcome which would allow for some sense of purpose to return to us all.
I became an habitué of the theaters and the newsreels, and the morbid sounding of the depths of my grief. Two films especially affected me while also confronting me with my suffering. One of these was the powerful adaption of Shakespeare's Henry V that was made by Laurence Olivier. In it, the young Plantagenet Prince of Wales takes his army to France to claim the French throne. The Battle of Agincout is climactic as Henry defeats the vastly superior French force.
It was clear that part of Olivier's intention in making the film was to use some of Henry’s rousing speeches to stir a sense of patriotism among the British people and garner support for the Allied cause in the rest of the world. One of the lines that stayed with me was from Henry's speech before the siege of Harfleur where he says, “Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more; or close the wall up with our English dead.”
The other movie that affected me deeply was the one made by Alfred Hitchcock called Lifeboat. A small group of people from various backgrounds are the only survivors of a freighter sunk in a battle with a German submarine where the submarine is also sunk. Henry Hull plays a wealthy industrialist, Tallulah Bankhead, a spoiled fashion writer and John Hodiak, the stalwart crewman. Mary Anderson is Alice, an army nurse, Hume Cronyn is Stanley, the radio man from the ship, Canada Lee is the steward, and Heather Angel, Mrs. Higley, a young British woman whose child has drowned. William Bendix has a poignant role as Gus, an injured crewman whose leg must be amputated by the survivors as gangrene develops.
Among them is a mysterious man, Willi, played by Walter Slezak, who pretends to speak no English. He turns out to be the Nazi captain of the submarine who is hoarding water for himself, and secretly steering the lifeboat toward a rendezvous with a German supply ship. He keeps checking his compass which the others think is a watch.
After days of drifting, all are suffering from hunger and dehydration. Gus, in his pain and thirst, and despite the warnings, drinks sea water and begins to hallucinate. He is pushed over the side by Willi while the others are asleep. They are awakened by Gus’ cries and descend on Willi and discover his treachery.
Hitchcock had conceived of the idea for the movie and first offered it to Ernest Hemingway who turned it down. John Steinbeck wrote the suspenseful screenplay, and kept the drama focused on survival, while developing an undercurrent of moral questions about our responsibilities to each other and the nature of civilization.
On February 4th, 1945, President Roosevelt met with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin at the Crimean town of Yalta in the Soviet Union. The conference was intended to set out plans for a postwar peace that would provide security and order in the conquered regions, but also, ostensibly to provide for self-determination for the liberated peoples of Europe.
In February, at the conclusion of the Battle for Iwo Jima, a small group of United States Marines reached the top of Mount Suribachi and were photographed raising the American flag. The photo, Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, taken by Joe Rosenthal, would win a Pulitzer Prize. The actual flag-raising was missed by the photographer. When he heard about it, he asked that it be re-enacted.
At the end of March, an exhausted President Roosevelt went to the Little White House at Warm Springs, Georgia, to rest before his speech at the founding conference of the United Nations. In the afternoon of April 12th, while sitting for a portrait, he complained of a headache, and then slumped forward in his chair, unconscious.
Two hours later, he was pronounced dead by his cardiologist, Dr. Howard Bruenn, who wrote that the president’s death was caused by a massive intracerebral hemorrhage. Roosevelt was just 63 years old. Vice-president Harry Truman was sworn in as the 33rd President.
On April 28, Benito Mussolini and his mistress, Clara Petacci, were captured and executed by Italian partisans as they attempted to flee the country. Their bodies were hung by their heels in the public square of Milan’s Piazzale Loreto. On the same day, Adolf Hitler married his longtime mistress Eva Braun, in a closed civil ceremony in his underground Führerbunker in Berlin. He also signed his last will and testament.
And then on April 30th, Hitler and Eva committed suicide as the Red Army approached Berlin. Großadmiral Karl Dönitz succeeded Hitler as President of Germany, and Joseph Goebbels succeeded as Chancellor, in accordance with the documents Hitler had signed on the previous day.
The German Instrument of Surrender was signed in Berlin on the night of May 8th by representatives of the three armed services, the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht and the Allied Expeditionary Force together with the Supreme High Command of the Soviet Red Army. Other French and US representatives signed as witnesses. This ended the war in Europe.
On July 16th, in Nevada, the Trinity Test, the first detonation of an atomic bomb, using about six kilograms of plutonium, succeeded in igniting an explosion equivalent to 22 kilotons of TNT. On the 17th, during the final summit of the war at Potsdam in Germany, President Truman officially informed Stalin that the U.S. had obtained a powerful new weapon. And on the 21st, Truman approved the order for atomic bombs to be used against Japan.
In New York on July 28th, at 9:40 AM, a B-25 Mitchell bomber of the United States Army Air Forces crashed into the Empire State Building while flying in thick fog. The accident caused the deaths of fourteen people, three crewmen and eleven people in the building, although the building's structural integrity was not compromised.
The plane hit the north side of the Building, between the 78th and 80th floors, making an 18 by 20 foot hole in the building. One engine shot through the south side opposite the impact and flew as far as the next block, dropping 900 feet and landing on the roof of a nearby building causing a fire that destroyed a penthouse art studio. The other engine and part of the landing gear fell down an elevator shaft.
On August 6th, the Enola Gay, a Boeing B-29 Superfortress, dropped an atomic bomb, code named Little Boy, on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, resulting in 140,000 deaths. On August 9th, the U.S. B-29 Bockscar dropped a second atomic bomb, code named Fat Man, on the Japanese city of Nagasaki, resulting in 80,000 deaths.
On the 14th, Japan’s Emperor Hirohito accepted the surrender terms of the Potsdam Declaration. His recorded statement was broadcast on the radio. This was probably the first time that the voice of an Emperor of Japan had been heard by the common people. Delivered in formal classical Japanese, without directly referring to surrender, the recorded speech was not immediately understood by the Japanese citizens.
On September 2, the final official Japanese Instrument of Surrender was accepted by the Supreme Allied Commander, General Douglas MacArthur, and Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz on board the American battleship U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay. On October 18th, the Nuremberg trials began in Germany.
Truman presided over the demobilization of the war effort and the establishment of the United Nations and other postwar institutions envisioned during Roosevelt's presidency, and on December 4th, the United States Senate approved the entry of the United States into the United Nations by a vote of 65 to 7.
© 2012, Compass Rose Music
Insignia aboard the Royal Yacht HMY Britannia.