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Little Star - the Elegants

Following on from the post three days ago, here is the only hit of Italian New York doo-wop group the Elegants. In September 1958, it reached number one in the US charts, but the Little Star theme has a Christmas feel to it for obvious reasons, besides the warm, rich lead vocal and backing harmonies. The original disc credited two members of the group, Vito Picone and Arthur Venosa, as the song's authors, but maybe they should have looked a little further. No doubt they were delighted to find that no-one had copywritten the original, and, not living in the age of the Internet, such information was not easy to find.

The original words for "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" were a poem, "The Star", by Jane Taylor, published in 1806 in a volume entitled "Rhymes for the Nursery" which she wrote with her sister Ann. Here they are:

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

How I wonder what you are!

Up above the world so high,

Like a diamond in the sky.

When the blazing sun is gone,

When he nothing shines upon,

Then you show your little light,

Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

Then the trav’ller in the dark,

Thanks you for your tiny spark,

He could not see which way to go,

If you did not twinkle so.

In the dark blue sky you keep,

And often thro’ my curtains peep,

For you never shut your eye,

Till the sun is in the sky.

‘Tis your bright and tiny spark,

Lights the trav’ller in the dark,

Tho’ I know not what you are,

Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

The tune is an eighteenth century French folk song but the version that is now standard in France is also a children's song, "Ah! Vous dirai-je Maman" the words of which, in turn, parody an anonymous popular love poem "La Confidence naive", the first verse of which is translated as

Ah! Shall I tell you, Mama,

What causes my torment?

Ever since I saw Silvandre,

Look at me so tenderly;

My heart says every time:

"Can we live without loving?"

Around 1782, Mozart composed a piano piece "Twelve Variations on "Ah! Vous dirai-je Maman" " which were published in 1785, which is the most likely route of the tune's arrival in Colchester, where the Taylor sisters lived.

So the credits, instead of being written on the original disc as (Picone/Venosa) should have been (trad/anon/Mozart/J Taylor/Picone/Venosa). Credit where credit's due.

And we cannot help noticing a recurring theme of unrequited love and worship from afar, from the anonymous French poem to fifties New York.

*Thanks to Wikipedia for information and poetry quoted above.


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