There’s an Iowa kind of special,
Chip-on-the shoulder attitude,
We’ve never been without.
Iowa Stuborn from The Music Man
Song & play written by Meredith Willson
Composer, conductor, songwriter, and playwright Meredith Willson is most well known as the creative forced behind The Music Man. He was born in Mason City, Iowa in 1902 and educated at what would become The Julliard School. What’s less known about Willson is that he composed the scores for Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, and William Wyler’s The Little Foxes——both of which earned him Academy Award Nominations.
He also wrote The Unsinkable Molly Brown which had a two-year run on Broadway and became a film starring Debbie Reynolds. His radio program ran between 1935 and 1953. And since it’s December, I should point out that he also wrote the classic holiday song It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas.
But Willson’s real legacy is The Music Man which took reportedly took him seven years to write and premiered on Broadway back in 1957 and has twice been made into films. Though I’ve lived in Iowa for almost ten years, this week was the first time I toured his childhood home in Mason City and The Music Man Square which pays honor to the man that paid tribute to his home state.
There’s too many layers to pull back at this time about The Music Man, but you can file Willson’s bio in the folder titled, “Talent Comes from Everywhere.” And let me just end this post with a clip of future Hollywood director Ron Howard singing the Wells Fargo song in The Music Man (1962):