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Who is Ken?

Good Grief
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In addition to the definition of "ken," I remember doing a production of the show where the girl playing Liesl was stymied by another lyric in the song:


"bachelor dandies,

drinkers of brandies,

what do I know of those?"


It was the 2nd line that evaded her. She didn't understand the idea that brandy could be pluralized - that it isn't just one thing, but there are many different kinds/flavors of brandies. I remember even in trying to explain that to her, she was still rather dubious about it.


Though, I do wonder a bit about the use of "ken." Would this be a word an average 16-year-old girl would know? (Never mind whether she's Austrian or English-speaking lol.) Sondheim has gone on record to say he regrets the cleverness of having a seemingly naive girl like Maria do inner rhymes like "it's alarming how charming I feel" - I wonder if Hammerstein ultimately just needed an easy rhyme for "men" and didn't care (or even dinna ken) that it might not have been the most appropriate word to be said by a girl who is (or who is at least pretending to be) not as smart as her oh-so-much older/wiser 17-year-old beau. ;)

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Yes. I saw TSOM when I was 16-years old in 1960. I may not have understood the word immediately, but it is repeated enough so I knew the point of Hammerstein's lyrics


Actually, I believe it's only sung once by each of them. But of course it's not that hard to figure out the meaning if you're really listening to the word in context.


And yes, I just checked - the Ken doll wasn't invented until 2 years after the show premiered on Broadway, so she couldn't have been singing about that. :D

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Also, the original cast album of "The Sound of Music" was released just before Christmas in 1959. Nuns, Mary Martin, Rodgers & Hammerstein

were a perfect holiday gift. Many audience members knew the song before seeing TSOM.


I've also always found it interesting that "My Favorite Things" often winds up in the pantheon of Christmas season songs. Maybe it's the lyrics about the packages tied up in strings, or the silver white winters and the snowflakes - or just the "feel good" nature of the song itself. Even though it really has nothing to do specifically with Christmas or any holiday.

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  • 1 month later...
The Broadway musical was a major success, a very tough ticket. The night I saw the musical in 1960, there was a large crowd outside the stage door waiting for Mary. It was just before Oscar Hammerstein died, so the newspapers may have implied he did not have long to live. Mary Martin was very good at making friends, and Oscar Hammerstein was one of her first show business friends, before she turned down "Oklahoma."


So I was never surprised about "My Favorite Things" and Christmas. People loved the Broadway show and the film.


Many shows have been insanely popular over time, yet no other show that I can think of has contributed a "holiday song" to the Christmas/winter season without being expressly about that.


Yes, "My Favorite Things" does reference winter - once, and snowflakes - once, and packages - once. Maybe that's sufficient, lol. But it still seems an odd choice for a Christmas song to me.


I don't see any real logical connection between the show's success/Martin's popularity and the subsequent use of a song from the show for the holiday season, lol. (But at least I'm glad that it's that song, and not that awful "Something Good" from the film, lol.)

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Do we know for sure that it wasn't Julie Andrews' rendition in the film, seen and heard by bazillions more people, that led to the song's standard status and perhaps Christmas associations? (I'm not sure, but wasn't the film also televised at Christmas for a number of years?)


Btw - James Comey just used the phrase "beyond my ken" in the Russia hearing...

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