My most interesting discovery in researching my Immortal Memory speech for this year’s Burns Supper was finding out that Michael Jackson loved Scotland’s celebrated bad boy bard Robert Burns enough to put Burns’ two-hundred-year-old songs to contemporary music and plan a musical with Anthony Perkins producing and Gene Kelly directing. Everyone died before anything could happen with this project. Man, I want to hear those songs.
The producer David Gest (most famous for being Liza Minnelli’s ex-husband) –also now dead — is quoted as saying: “We went to his recording studio at the family house in Encino, where all the Jacksons grew up and we took about eight or 10 of Burns’ poems and we put them to contemporary music, things like ‘A Red Red Rose’ and ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ and the story of Tam O’Shanter.” “Tam O’Shanter” is said to have inspired “Thriller.”
From humble beginnings as a farm kid whose father valued education, Burns became a famous poet and someone who preserved traditional Scottish songs for the future – the most famous being “Auld Lang Syne.” That’s a great “Jeopardy” question. Now you know it was the Ploughman Poet Rabbie Burns whose name is attached to a song everyone sings once a year.
Here are some photos from my second annual Burns Supper in Greenwich, Connecticut, USA. Yes, I am trying to get my town to celebrate a new holiday. Well, new to Greenwich anyway — the Scots have been celebrating the birthday of Robert Burns for 216 years.