Tag Archives: Sam Spence

A magnificent seven

In case you were wondering, the music usually presented here has been pre-empted by the Super Bowl. We come to you from Green Bay, Wisconsin, where your correspondent has been a bit busy lately.

This has been a special season in Green Bay, and only partly because of the Green Bay Packers’ run to Super Bowl XLV.

In November, legendary NFL Films composer Sam Spence visited Green Bay for a week, working with music students and conducting a program of his music.

I met Spence — who’s a charming guy — at a reception during that week and again after his Friday night performance. I asked him that dreadful question: “How did it feel?” Spence smiled like a little kid and said “Oh, that was great!”

Spence, much like the Packers and Lambeau Field, is a national treasure.

But did you know that orchestras can’t buy the scores of his NFL Films music? NFL Films owns and publishes the music. When Spence makes an appearance — and he doesn’t make many — he brings them along with NFL Films’ blessings.

So why not bring some Sam Spence to your Super Bowl party?

“Lombardi” (narrated by John Facenda)

“Classic Battle”

“The Final Quest”

“The Equalizer”

“Torpedo”

“Salute To Courage”

“The Championship Chase”

All composed by Sam Spence, from “The Power and the Glory: The Original Music and Voices of NFL Films,” 1998. There aren’t any session notes for these compositions, but most likely date to the late ’60s or early ’70s.

Play some Sam Spence before the game and you will be stoked for action.

Be sure to get your pregame marching orders from Bart Starr, too.

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Filed under February 2011, Sounds

Distant replays

While Commander Cody was pounding away on the electric piano in the banquet hall the other night, Jerry Kramer sat at a table at the other end of the hall, quietly going about his work.

Some of you know exactly who that is. For the rest of you, Jerry Kramer was the right guard on the Green Bay Packers’ championship teams of the 1960s. He also is the co-author of “Instant Replay,” one of the first tell-it-like-it-is sports books of the time.

I got my copy of “Instant Replay” in 1968 or 1969. It was hugely influential for a kid who loved the Packers and wanted to write. Years later, I enjoyed “Distant Replay,” the where-are-they-now follow-up also written by Kramer and the late Dick Schaap.

So, yeah, Jerry Kramer was sitting over there, taking care of business, signing Packers memorabilia to be sold. Sitting there in Green Bay, a long block from Lambeau Field, yet all but unnoticed by the 200 or so people there to see Commander Cody.

When the show was over, Kramer was still there, wrapping up the night’s work. He was with a couple of other guys, perhaps his partners in this bit of memorabilia business. A couple of people walked over to say hello. I’d never met Jerry Kramer, so I did, too.

We shook hands. I thanked him for writing his books. “Instant Replay” was a big deal when it came out, and he told me about the culture shock of being an NFL player running with the literary giants of the late ’60s. I assured him that he mattered more — at least to a kid from Sheboygan, Wisconsin — than Gore Vidal or Norman Mailer.

That was it. That was plenty. That it was completely unexpected, completely informal, made it that much better.

I’ve been thinking about famous people, and how we relate to them, since a friend posted a remarkable set of photos on his Facebook page. My friend has had a long career with the FM rock station in our hometown. There he is with Richie Sambora, Rick Allen, Donnie Van Zant, Rick Nielsen, Sarah McLachlan, Kevin Cronin, the Thompson Twins … you get the idea.

Both of us have long been in the media, enjoying the occasional access that comes with it. Meeting people, famous or not, is what we do.

I won’t say the thrill is gone, but the list of famous people I’d like to meet — is that a bucket list? — is pretty short. That’s for next time.

Until then, enjoy a chance meeting with …

“The Lineman,” Sam Spence, from “The Power and the Glory: The Original Music and Voices of NFL Films,” 1998. Don’t know when this was recorded, but from the sound of it, I’d say late ’60s.

Listen to the horns. They foreshadow someone on my short list.

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Filed under May 2010, Sounds

More tunes for your tailgate party

I was out shoveling this morning and realized I’d forgotten one of the tunes I’d intended to put in Wednesday’s post.

That means bonus tunes for you.

Again, if you’re not into the Green Bay Packers, or not from Wisconsin, you probably have less than zero interest in this post. I understand that. But we are continuing to preserve small slices of regional culture.

“Rock to the Big Game,” Randy Stary, digital single, 2007.

This is kind of a laid-back rockabilly tune, if such a thing is possible. I long ago played basketball with Randy, and he long has been my wife’s family’s investment broker, but I had no idea he was a guitarist, too. It’s not bad for something done on a whim by a local guy who bills himself as an “accidental songwriter.”

Randy also put up a YouTube video over the weekend. If you’re wondering what kind of craziness is going on in Green Bay these days, this will give you a pretty good idea. (Oh, and the guy in the screen grab? I’m pretty sure that’s Phil, who’s on my softball team.)

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“Green Bay Pack City,” the Wedgies, from “The Wedgies,” 1996.

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“Green Bay at 12:00,” the Wedgies, from “Brat Out of Hell,” 1997.

Ah, the Wedgies. Take a DJ from the morning show at one of our local rock stations, add some local musicians and crank out covers with new lyrics. “Green Bay Pack City” is a cover of “Detroit Rock City” by Kiss. “Green Bay at 12:00” is a cover of “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC.

One of the Wedgies’ claims to fame, according to the liner notes, is “being shut down by Packers security for being too loud and being too close to Packer practice” in 1996. Really all you need to know.

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“Be Savage Again” and “A Time for Glory,” narrated by John Facenda and composed by Sam Spence, from “The Power and the Glory: The Original Music and Voices of NFL Films,” 1998.

A little more from the voice of the NFL, anyone?

And in the hour or so it took me to write this post, it started snowing again.

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Filed under January 2008, Sounds

The chill of November

Over at the fine Echoes in the Wind blog, our pal Whiteray has been doing a pretty good job of conveying what it is like when November arrives in the upper Midwest.

He’s covered the gales of November, with his Saturday singles post on Gordon Lightfoot’s classic tune about a Lake Superior freighter going down in a raging storm. To those of us who live near the Great Lakes, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” is seared into memory.

Earlier today, Whiteray discussed life as a football fan on these fine November weekends, with his high school team bringing joy and his college and NFL teams bringing something less.

To that, I simply would add …

John Facenda, the legendary voice of NFL Films, has a few words to say about November. He does not mess around. It takes 18 seconds for him to have his say.

“November,” narration by John Facenda, from “The Power and the Glory: The Original Music and Voices of NFL Films,” 1998.

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If you have any kind of an NFL bash, whether a tailgate party or simply having folks over to watch, you need to have NFL Films music in your mix.

Here, then, is another piece by the incomparable Sam Spence. It also conveys more of the chill of November.

“The Equalizer,” composed by Sam Spence, from “The Power and the Glory: The Original Music and Voices of NFL Films,” 1998.

If you are not from our part of the country, and you find it odd that we celebrate November in Minnesota and Wisconsin, consider this:

Part of the perverse appeal of the impending arrival of another winter is that we can justify spending more time inside, surrounded by our tunes, rocking out to keep the chill away.

One more thing, added a day later: Our pal JB over at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ also has a few things to say about November in Wisconsin.

Still another thing, added three days later: Over at Pieces of Perplexio Pi, there’s still another essay on life in the north in November. It’s not a music blog, but it’s certainly worth a read.

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Filed under November 2007, Sounds

A season awaits

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If you’ve been around AM, Then FM for a while, you know we come to you from Green Bay, Wisconsin, the home of the Green Bay Packers.

We live practically within sight of Lambeau Field. Vince Lombardi lived on our block when he moved to town in 1959. Curly Lambeau, who founded the Packers and for whom the stadium is named, is buried two blocks from our house.

Come 8 or 9 a.m. Sunday, the tailgate parties will commence at Lambeau Field. Oh, they are something. Cold bevvies and grilled food for as far as the eye can see. I went to my first game and tailgate party at Lambeau Field in 1980. I’ve been back many times since, in all kinds of weather.

Come a couple of minutes before noon Sunday, three or four military jets will zoom low over Lambeau Field, the traditional flyover before kickoff. We’ll see it on TV and hear it outside.

Come about 3 p.m. Sunday, after three hours of the Packers vs. the Philadelphia Eagles, the tailgate parties resume, win or lose. Oh, it can get to be a long day.

However, the tailgate parties go better with the right music. And what better soundtrack for your game-day bash than some of the classic compositions that accompany NFL Films presentations?

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“Torpedo,” composed by Sam Spence, from “The Power and the Glory: The Original Music and Voices of NFL Films,” 1998.

And it would not be another NFL season without the voice of the legendary John Facenda, the late, great Philadelphia broadcaster who for years narrated NFL Films. Hard to believe he has been gone 23 years now.

“A Season Awaits,” John Facenda, also from “The Power and the Glory: The Original Music and Voices of NFL Films,” 1998.

Hope you dig it. We have more football music to come.

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Filed under September 2007, Sounds

Green Bay is on the clock

Today has the feel of Christmas here in the shadow of Lambeau Field.

The Green Bay Packers, along with the other 31 teams in the NFL, get to unwrap their presents in the NFL draft.

My mission, should I decide to accept it, is to spend five hours watching the first round of the draft and posting to our newspaper’s Packers news site (and to handhelds) every time a team makes a pick.

No better way to prepare for that than to enjoy the music of Sam Spence.

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If the name isn’t familiar, the music is. You’ve heard his compositions countless times on the classic NFL Films presentations of the ’60s and the ’70s. They’re terrific.

Some years ago, I came across a CD of NFL Films music by Spence and a couple of other more contemporary composers. It’s terrific, taking you back to those great NFL Films.

So let’s hope someone picks a ramblin’ man from Grambling.

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“Ramblin’ Man From Grambling,” composed by Sam Spence, from “The Power and the Glory: The Original Music and Voices of NFL Films,” 1998.

Though this CD is plenty for me, there’s also a boxed set of NFL Films music. “Autumn Thunder” is available with 10 CDs or five vinyl albums.

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Filed under April 2007, Sounds