The Passing of John McGlinn
If driving fast cars you like,
If low bars you like,
If old hymns you like,
If bare limbs you like,
If Mae West you like,
Or me undressed you like,
Why, nobody will oppose.
When e’vry night the set that’s smart is in-
Truding in nudist parties in
Many years ago I knew a guy named W. Roosevelt (Tommy) Thompson, the alcoholic son of advertising titan J. Walter Thompson, who lived in a huge house next to Gillette Castle overlooking the Connecticut River. Thompson's single claim to fame was that in his lifetime, he had seen every play of William Shakespeare performed. He confessed to me that he had once traveled to London for the singular purpose of seeing a rare production of "Titus Andronicus." I was appalled. Yet 50 years later, I did the same thing.
After waiting 45 years to see "Anything Goes" live, I spotted a 2004 revival in London that was running during the week of the big Reed Direct Marketing Fair at Earls Court. In addition, my best clients would be attending the show, so I manufactured an excuse to fly to London and stay at the Ambassadors Hotel & Flophouse on the cheap, cheap, cheap and take my clients to see this legendary musical. My God, it was worth every penny! In the 2004 biopic of Cole Porter—"De-Lovely," starring Kevin Klein—the "Anything Goes" sequence was filmed at that revival.
What was the life force deep in John McGlinn's psyche that drove his career? As he said to the brilliant NPR interviewer Terry Gross on "Fresh Air" in 1992:
When these shows were being written, nobody thought of them as great art. They were commodities. They were designed to make the authors and the producers money. That’s really all anybody thought about it. Now I’m convinced that late at night in the recesses of their studies, the composers themselves did think of it as art. They knew they were creating beautiful music. But even so, they still treated it very much as a commodity. Orchestrations were not preserved. Manuscripts were not even preserved. If a song or a complete show wasn’t a big hit, nobody felt it was important to preserve it in case it were going to be re-evaluated for posterity 50 years later. What was the miracle that created people like Irving Berlin and Richard Rogers, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern and Cole Porter, Dietz and Schwartz? All at this one time these incredible people! And artistry like that—quite apart from the style has changed—doesn’t seem to exist en masse today. People just didn’t think it was all going to end. So I think now people are realizing that we’ve lost something incredibly precious. We better find it and reclaim it and preserve it as fast as we can.