Released on Christmas Day in 1973, the film The Sting starred American actors Paul Newman (1925-2008) and Robert Redford as a pair of grifters who join forces to pull a complicated con job on a mob boss played by British actor, playwright and novelist Robert Shaw (1927-1978). George Roy Hill was director for the film and no stranger to the duo: he also directed Newman and Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969).
The Sting was a huge hit, and I remember that it ignited tremendous public interest in ragtime music. The soundtrack featured piano tunes by Scott Joplin (c1868-1917), a Black American composer and pianist who earned fame for his “rags.” “The Entertainer” is one such piece that appeared on the film soundtrack and often played on popular AM radio stations, which at the time typically broadcast only contemporary music.
Several days ago, while I was listening to a YouTube video for a song post I was working on, the autoplay function cued up a medley of Joplin tunes. One in particular that I liked and put through the Shazam app was today’s selection, “Maple Leaf Rag.” It’s a joyous piece that makes one want to get up and “dance those troubles away.”
The piece became the first ragtime hit and is likely one of the most recognizable in the genre. It was apart of a short life’s work that earned Joplin the title, King of Ragtime.
Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.
Here’s the video of a performance by Italian artist Dario Ronchi posted on his YouTube channel. I appreciate the slightly slower tempo he employs in his interpretation of the piece: