Sunday, May 21, 2017

New Colony Six – "Things I'd Like to Say" (1968)

Baby, is he looking after you?
Is he showing you the same love, the warm love
Just like we knew?

In May 2015, Beau Biden – the 46-year-old eldest son of Vice President Joe Biden – died after a long battle with brain cancer.  

Biden’s other son, Hunter – who was born exactly one year and a day after his brother – and his wife Kathleen separated in October of the same year but didn’t get divorced until last month.  (Their six-bedroom, 5 1/2-bath home in Washington is up for sale, with an asking price is $1.85 million.)

In March of this year, Joe Biden confirmed to the New York Post that Hunter and Beau’s widow, Hallie, have been a couple for some time.

The former Veep and his wife Jill have blessed the romance.  “We are all lucky that Hunter and Hallie found each other as they were putting their lives together again after such sadness,” Biden told the Post.  “They have mine and Jill’s full and complete support and we are happy for them.”

Joe and Hunter Biden
It's not surprising that Hunter and Hallie don't have Kathleen’s full and complete support and that she isn't happy for them.

Kathleen went ballistic when Hunter allegedly cut off most of the money he had been sending to her and their kids after the couple separated so he could spend more on wine, women, and lap dances for himself.

“Throughout the parties’ separation Mr. Biden has created financial concerns for the family by spending extravagantly on his own interests (including drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, strip clubs, and gifts for women with whom he has sexual relations), while leaving the family with no funds to pay legitimate bills,” Kathleen’s lawyers said in the divorce papers they filed on her behalf.

The once and future Mrs. Hunter Biden?
(Kathleen's on the left, Hallie's on the right)

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If Hunter and Hallie get married, their union will be an example of levirate marriage . . . sort of.

Levirate marriage – a marriage between a widow and her dead husband’s brother – is dictated in certain circumstances by Deuteronomy 25:5, which says:

If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies, and has no child, the wife of the dead shall not be married to one not of his kin; her husband's brother shall go in to her, and take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her.

If you read the following verse from Deuteronomy, the reasoning behind levirate marriage – the name comes from the Latin word levir, which mean’s “husband’s brother” – becomes apparent:

And it shall be, that the first-born that she bears [to her new husband] shall succeed in the name of his brother that is dead, that his name be not blotted out of Israel. 

In other words, the first son born to the widow and her dead husband’s brother is legally the heir of the deceased brother, and so inherits any land that belongs to the deceased brother at the time of his death, or that the deceased brother would have inherited if he had not died.  (If the deceased brother dies without an heir, land that he owns or would have inherited might end up in the hands of someone other than a close relative.)

Deuteronomy doesn’t explicitly say what the rules are if the surviving brother is already married, but I’m guessing that levirate marriage doesn’t require bigamy.

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Levirate marriage is not the same thing as “ghost marriage,” which is relatively common among certain tribes living in South Sudan.

In a ghost marriage, a deceased groom is replaced by his brother.  Any children that are produced as a result of the stand-in groom’s efforts are considered to be children of the deceased man.

Dancers at a Nuer wedding
Female members of the Nuer tribe participate in ghost marriages because any wealth a woman brings to a Nuer marriage becomes the property of the husband.  By marrying a dead man, a Nuer wife can retain control over her wealth.

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Levirate marriage was not practiced simply by Old Testament Jews and primitive African tribes.  Several years after Arthur, Prince of Wales – the eldest son and heir apparent to King Henry VII of England – died when he was just 16 years old, his younger brother, King Henry VIII, married his widow, Catherine of Aragon.

King Henry VIII
This was not a true levirate marriage.  It was permitted only because Catherine swore that Prince Arthur had not consummated their marriage.  That enabled Henry VIII to legally marry, but caused considerable inconvenience when the King later decided that the 32-year-old Anne Boleyn was a better bet to give him a male heir than his 47-year-old wife.

So Henry took the position that Arthur and Catherine’s marriage had been consummated after all, and sought an annulment on the grounds that it had not been lawful for him to marry his brother’s widow.  

Henry cited Leviticus 20:21, which says:

And if a man shall take his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing: he has uncovered his brother's nakedness; they shall be childless.

That is clearly inconsistent with Deuteronomy 25:5, which allows – or even requires – a brother to marry his deceased brother’s widow.  

Henry sent his men to Venice to consult with Rabbi Isaac Halfon, who opined that the Old Testament no longer sanctioned levirate marriage, and that Henry’s marriage to his brother’s widow violated Jewish law whether or not Arthur had gotten his ashes hauled.  

The Pope consulted some other rabbis, who said just the opposite, and he refused to give his blessing to Henry’s marriage to Anne.  So Henry told the Pope to take a long walk off a short pier and founded the Church of England, which said that it was fine and dandy for Henry and Anne to wed.

Click here if you’d like to read more about all this.

By the way, another British king participated in a near-levirate marriage.  Prince Albert Victor, the oldest grandson of Queen Victoria, became engaged to Princess Mary of Teck, his second cousin once removed.  But Albert Victor died of influenza only six weeks later.

King George V and his wife, Queen Mary
A year and a half later, Albert Victor’s younger brother George married Mary in London.  George was crowned King George V in 1910, and he and Queen Mary reigned until his death in 1936.  (Yes, the famous ocean liner was named after her.)

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The last few times I heard “Things I’d Like to Say” on the radio, I made a mental note to feature it on 2 or 3 lines.  But I'd always forget.

I’m trying to think of a more beautiful 1960s love song, and I can’t.  I wouldn’t change a thing about it – not the added strings, not the march-like drum part, and especially not the solo piano coda.    

I’m just glad I didn’t own this record when it was released in 1968, when I was 16 years old and prone to bouts of unrequited love and teenage angst.  If I had owned “Things I’d Like to Say” back then, I probably would have play it over and over and over while lying with my head under our Magnavox console stereo.  (I hate to think how many times I listened to Pet Sounds – especially “Caroline, No” – while doing just that.)

The sheet music for today's featured song
The New Colony Six – who performed in Paul Revere and the Raiders-esque Revolutionary War outfits – were a Chicago band that recorded ten singles that made it into the Billboard “Hot 100.”  But only “Things I’d Like to Say” made it into the top twenty.

The song was written by band members Ronnie Rice and Les Kummel (who died in an automobile accident in 1978, when he was 33).  

Here’s “Things I’d Like to Say”:

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