Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Gene Nelson – "Everything's Up to Date in Kansas City" (1955)

I got to Kansas City on a Friday
By Saturday I learned a thing or two

Today's featured song is from the classic musical, Oklahoma!, which opened on Broadway in 1943.

  The character who sings it is a simple Okie cowboy named Will Parker, who is mightily impressed when he visits Kansas City circa 1906.

Gene Nelson played Will Parker
in the movie version of
After all, "The Paris of the Plains" boasts a number of modern-day wonders that have not yet made their way to Oklahoma – including automobiles, telephones, seven-story-tall skyscrapers, indoor plumbing, and . . . best of all . . . burlesque houses.

Parker was quite taken with one of the burlesque dancers he saw perform:

One of the gals was fat and pink and pretty
As round above as she was round below
I could swear that she was padded 
From her shoulder to her heel
But later in the second act
When she began to peel
She proved that everything she had
Was absolutely real!

If Will Parker had returned to Kansas City a couple of decades later, he no doubt would have been wowed by the famous Country Club Plaza, the first shopping center in the world designed to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile.

Kansas City's Country Club Plaza
The Country Club Plaza doesn't look up-to-date.  Its design was inspired by the classic architecture of Seville, Spain (one of Kansas City's sister cities).

There are beautiful hand-painted tiles and other architectural details everywhere you look in the Plaza.  Here are a few examples:

Here's the 12th-century La Giralda bell tower in Seville, which was originally built to be a minaret:

Here's the half-size replica of La Giralda that stands in the Country Club Plaza:

Just a few blocks from the Plaza is the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.  Here's a photo of one of the giant shuttlecock sculpture installed on the museum's grounds by husband-and-wife artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen in 1994:

Also nearby is the original Winstead's, a wonderfully retro cheeseburger-fries-and-milkshake emporium that I learned about from New Yorker food writer, Calvin Trillin:

Here's "Everything's Up to Date in Kansas City" from the 1955 movie of Oklahoma!:

Click below to buy the soundtrack to Oklahoma! from Amazon:

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