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Friday Arts Feature - If I had words

by British Awakening – 1 Nov 2019

Since my early teens I have had a passion for music, a passion that has developed over the years, yet even in my early years my taste in music was very catholic. My father (a Beatles fanatic) introduced me to the music of Mozart and Vivaldi and my love of classical began – although as I grew older my taste in classical moved more towards more quirky composers. In terms of quirky composers I wrote previously about Eric Satie and rebooted classics, this time I thought I would write instead about great pop songs people didn’t realise started life as classical music.

You must have been living in a Tibetan monastery for the past couple of decades if you hadn’t seen or at least heard of the 1995 hit movie ‘Babe’. For those of you who have just returned from a monastery, Babe is a film about a pig on a farm who wants to do the job of a sheepdog. I would defy anyone not to be charmed by the entire movie – but perhaps the most charming scene is when Farmer Hoggett (played by the most excellent James Cromwell) starts to sing

If I had words to make a day for you

I’d sing you a morning golden and new

I would make this day last for all time

Give you a night deep in moonshine

The words are actually set to the Maestoso final movement of Symphony No.3 by Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921), a French composer, organist, and conductor famous for pieces such as Dance Macabre and the Carnival of Animals. The organ symphony is considered to be the peak of his career and his finest piece – although my favourite piece is Aquarium from the Carnival of Animals (which featured in Babe as well).

OK – I accept maybe some of you for some strange reason may struggle with movies about talking pigs that think they are sheep dogs, I get that, so I will play my trump card here, “If I had words” was also a UK hit in 1978 sung by Scott Fitzgerald as a duet with Yvonne Keeley. It reached number 3 in the UK charts – so here is a link to the song introduced by the one and only Tony Blackburn:

Finally for the music purists out there the piece in its magnificent original form.

Well I hope my piece has helped make a day for you! Enjoy your weekend.

Camille Saint-Saëns

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