Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I’m Doug Johnson.
Today we play music from performers at a jazz festival in New York City …
question about the best place to visit in the United States …
And celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”
''Take Me Out To The Ballgame''
It is believed to be the third most popular song that Americans sing. It is one hundred years old. And people sing it at baseball games. Barbara Klein tells us what it is.
Experts say there are probably more than one thousand songs about baseball, America's national sport. "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" is the most popular. Jack Norworth wrote the song in nineteen-oh-eight. He was a young actor who had never been to a Major League baseball game. But one day, he saw a sign about baseball in an underground subway train in New York City. He wrote the words to the song. When he got to work, his partner, Albert Von Tilzer, put the words to music. Von Tilzer had never been to a baseball game, either. This is the first recording of that song.
Tim Wiles is head of research at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. He is one of the writers of a new book, "Baseball's Greatest Hit: The Story of Take Me Out to the Ballgame." He says Jack Norworth wrote the song about a young woman who tells her boyfriend she does not want to go see a show on Broadway. She wants him to take her to a baseball game.
"Take Me Out to the Ballgame" became very popular in nineteen-oh-eight. And it has been played at American baseball games ever since. But it was not until the mid nineteen seventies that it became a popular sing-along tradition.
Near the end of the game everyone is tired of sitting on the hard seats. So at a special time, everyone stands up and stretches their legs. This tradition is called "the seventh inning stretch." At most baseball stadiums, everyone sings "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."
Only two other songs are reportedly sung more often in the United States than "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." They are "Happy Birthday to You" and the national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Oh, the Place You Will Go
Our listener question this week comes from Guatemala. Julio Rolando Pineda Cordón asks where to go for the best educational and cultural experience if you could only visit one place in the United States. We talked to people from different parts of the country to get their opinions.
Jenny Franchina is a mother and homemaker in Beverly Hills, California. It is an area of Los Angeles that has big houses, costly stores and many movie stars. But it is not the place Jenny suggests for your visit.
She says the answer to the question is three words --- New York City. She says New York has it all, including a mix of many cultures. Huge numbers of immigrants settled and continue to settle in different areas of the city. Chinatown is one example. You can find Chinese food, movies, bookstores, as well as special Chinese medicines, art and toys. Other great ethnic neighborhoods include Little Italy and Spanish Harlem.
There is also a major Greek community in Astoria, and a large South Asian population in Jackson Heights. You can find the food, music, art and other cultural treasures from many countries.
But New York is not the place Connie and Jim Birmingham would visit. They own a farm in Marion, Iowa. Jim is a cattleman. Connie is retired. They agree that a big city is a good choice. But, the Birminghams vote for Chicago, Illinois. Connie says it has all the culture you can find in New York. And, she thinks the building design in Chicago is even more exciting. She says Chicago’s skyline along the huge, blue Lake Michigan is one of the most beautiful sights in America.
Rick Gulino lives in Wilmington, Delaware. He is a lawyer and father of two girls. He says the place to visit is Washington, D.C. He says it is especially interesting as the capital of the United States. He loves the many monuments and memorials. And he notes that the city is close to both mountains and ocean beaches. He also says he likes the people of Washington.
One note from us: The United States is not just a country of big cities. It offers great spots for nature lovers, too. There are deserts, canyons, volcanoes, rivers and swamps, just to list a few. Another program, perhaps?
JVC Jazz Fest
The JVC Jazz Festival takes place in cities around the United States and Europe. The JVC electronics company has been organizing major jazz festivals since nineteen eighty-four. Faith Lapidus tells us about the one being held in New York city.
The JVC Jazz Festival New York opened June fifteenth. The shows are taking place at several theaters, clubs and music centers. This closing weekend includes a show Friday featuring Al Green and Dianne Reeves at Carnegie Hall. Here Reeves sings the title track of her latest album, “When You Know.”
Al Green will surely perform some songs from his just released album, “Lay It Down.” Here he sings “Take Your Time,” with British artist Corinne Bailey Rae.
The great composer and pianist Herbie Hancock performed at Carnegie Hall last week. Here is his famous piece, “Watermelon Man.”
Some of the musicians at the JVC Jazz Festival New York are not as famous as others. For example, a three-member group called The Bad Plus has been performing for eight years. Critics say they are very popular with young jazz fans. We leave you with a song from their latest recording, “Prog.” Here is “Giant.”
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
It was written by Shelley Gollust and Caty Weaver, who was also our producer. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to voaspecialenglish.com.
again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special