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The Rime of the Modern Composer

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

So I was listening to a shuffle of songs by the band Iron Maiden, and their track Rime of the Ancient Mariner came on, and got me wondering when the epic poem by that name had been written. But instead of googling the title of the piece, I went to type in the name of the author. Or at least I tried to do so. However, instead of the proper "Samuel Taylor Coleridge", I erred and typed in "Samuel Coleridge Taylor". As a result, today I learned that in the late 1800s, early 1900s, there was a composer by that name, of some renown, born to a British mother and an African father, who was from Sierra Leone, but descended from American slaves liberated by English troops during the Revolutionary War.

1904, Coleridge-Taylor visited the United States for the first time, and was given an audience at the White House by then President Theodore Roosevelt, quite a rare honor for a black person during those days, as per his wikipedia article.


Sadly, musicians, then as now, were not well compensated, and financial stress probably contributed to health problems, and Coleridge-Taylor died of pneumonia in 1912, when he was only 37 years old.

As for the English poet who composed the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, he lived a hundred years before Coleridge-Taylor (who was totally named after Taylor Coleridge, as you might imagine), being born in 1772, and he initially published that epic in 1798. It's kind of fun to listen to the Iron Maiden song, and then read the poem, using Bruce Dickinson's (Yes, the Bruce Dickinson*) cadences from the song to sing/chant/read Coleridge's verses.


You'll notice this page uses the text from the 1834 version. Coleridge apparently updated his poem over the years after its initial publication. Haven't a clue what the 'best' version is, but reading through this today, it's pretty great, setting a mood, and capturing your attention, the way the Ancient Mariner captivated the guy at the wedding he was attending. Worth your time to wade through, I think.

*The "The Bruce Dickinson" comment is a reference to the Saturday Night Live "More Cowbell" skit from the year 2000, one of the best known/loved SNL skits of all time, featuring Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken. Having just looked it up...I'm hugely amused to learn, darn near 20 years later, that it WASN'T actually a reference to the Iron Maiden singer, and that there was, in fact, a producer named Bruce Dickinson. Ironically, he wasn't actually the producer for the song "Don't Fear the Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult, which features in that skit. He was involved in a re-issue of the track, and apparently the SNL personnel who researched and got the rights to use the song screwed up and thought he was behind the original track. The actual producer was a guy named David Lucas, and he claims to have been the one who played the cowbell heard on the song.

Don't Fear the Reaper: www.youtube.com/

More Cowbell : www.youtube.com/
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Oh, dear...please don’t do that again...time sucked me big time!
    26 days ago
    26 days ago
    Iron Maiden is one of my go too bands! I'm a Metal head! Thanks for the musical journey from another Musicnut! emoticon
    26 days ago
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