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Obit: Ed McCurdy has passed away (1919-2000)

DigiTrad:
LAST NIGHT I HAD A HAPPY DREAM
LAST NIGHT I HAD THE STRANGEST DREAM


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Mike Regenstreif 24 Mar 00 - 08:59 AM
Abby Sale 24 Mar 00 - 09:40 AM
Rick Fielding 24 Mar 00 - 11:56 AM
GUEST,Roger in Baltimore 24 Mar 00 - 05:50 PM
catspaw49 24 Mar 00 - 06:26 PM
thosp 24 Mar 00 - 06:34 PM
GUEST 24 Mar 00 - 08:41 PM
Rick Fielding 24 Mar 00 - 10:15 PM
pastorpest 24 Mar 00 - 10:19 PM
catspaw49 24 Mar 00 - 10:33 PM
Willie-O 24 Mar 00 - 11:30 PM
Stewie 25 Mar 00 - 02:03 AM
GUEST,Ray 25 Mar 00 - 05:40 AM
Rick Fielding 25 Mar 00 - 11:10 AM
GUEST,Ron Olesko 25 Mar 00 - 11:38 AM
GUEST,Dogwood 26 Mar 00 - 03:26 AM
Mike Regenstreif 26 Mar 00 - 10:06 AM
Stewie 26 Mar 00 - 05:23 PM
Art Thieme 26 Mar 00 - 05:52 PM
Stewie 27 Mar 00 - 05:44 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 27 Mar 00 - 09:52 PM
Hollowfox 28 Mar 00 - 10:40 AM
Abby Sale 29 Mar 00 - 08:57 AM
Hollowfox 29 Mar 00 - 09:04 AM
Abby Sale 29 Mar 00 - 09:06 AM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 29 Mar 00 - 09:19 PM
katlaughing 12 Apr 00 - 07:33 PM
GUEST 03 Feb 11 - 07:05 AM
topical tom 03 Feb 11 - 10:54 AM
Desert Dancer 03 Feb 11 - 10:58 AM
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Subject: OBIT: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 24 Mar 00 - 08:59 AM

Ed McCurdy died yesterday at home in Halifax at the age of 81. Below is a message I received from Doug Yeager this morning.

Mike Regenstreif

Ed McCurdy: January 11, 1919 - March 23, 2000

Dear Friends,

Our unforgettable Brother, Ed McCurdy, gospel, children, folk and erotic singer, actor, songwriter of "The Strangest Dream," and one the planets great characters and indefatigable spirits, left us in his sleep at 9:37 am Thursday morning, lying in his bed next to his beloved wife Beryl, at their home in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was 81.
Born in Willow Hill, Pennsylvania, Ed headed west during the Depression to make his career as a gospel singer. By 1937, the young man with the booming baritone voice, landed a job singing on Oklahoma's top gospel radio station WKY, in Oklahoma City, and by the next year he became their most popular disc jockey. However, by 1939, wanderlust hit him again, and he headed to Chicago, where he auditioned for Sally Rand, The Queen of Burlesque. She was looking for a tall (6'2"), handsome, tuxedoed baritone with a booming voice, who would sing romantic songs to her in her act, and push her nude torso on her swing in center stage. She hired him on the spot. And for the next several years, together they toured the world's most prestigious burlesque theatres, with Fat Jack Leonard as their comedian. In 1946, Ed immigrated to Canada, and began hosting a popular CBC-Radio musical variety talk show in Vancouver, and in 1949, moved the show to Toronto where it continued until 1952. During this six year period, virtually every popular American and European musical star and recording artist appeared on his show, including the top American folk singers of the era, who became his good friends. During this period, he would also meet a beautiful young dancer Beryl, who would become his wife and mother of his three children. In 1952, he began writing and acting for CBC Radio & TV children's programs, and that same year recorded his first album, "Ed McCurdy Sings Songs of the Canadian Maritimes."
However, it was one night in 1950, after a long night of drink and no sleep, that would give Ed his immortality. That night, on the floor of his Toronto hotel room, bottle in one hand, pen in the other, he wrote his signature song, "(Last Night I Had) The Strangest Dream," which would become one of the centuries most enduring peace songs. Recorded in 76 languages, by major artists around the world, it would become the Peace Corps' Theme Song (as recorded by Josh White, Jr.); and in 1989, as the world witnessed the crumbling of the Berlin wall on international television, the cameras poignantly showed East German school children singing "The Strangest Dream," from their school yards.
In 1954, Ed moved to New York, where he would be begin a long recording relationship with Elektra Records. His shared his first album for Elektra, "Bad Men & Heroes," with Oscar Brand and Jack Elliott, and would later go on to become one of America's major folk artists. That same year, he also landed a job starring as "Freddy, The Fireman," on the popular New York children's television show by the same name. And he would also later become the announcer for network television's "George Gobel Show." However, his recording career took a major leap forward in 1957, when he began recording a series of albums under the title, "When Dalliance Was In Flower." This album series, with songs of risqué subject matter, became a favorite for college students around the globe, and his concert touring flourished. For many years to come, friends and fans would joyously refer to him as `Dirty Ed McCurdy,' but he would often bristle at the thought, and reprimand any blasphemer in his booming Shakespearean bellow, "My Songs are Not DIRTY, They Are EROTIC!"
Ed would appear at four Newport Folk Festivals, and appear on Vanguard's Festival albums. He would also record extensively for Tradition and Riverside Records.
As the new generation of young folk artists appeared in the 1960s, Ed's folk career began to decline, as did his health. In the 1970s, he was bedridden for most of the decade with severe heart, cancer and back conditions and major operations. However, in the 1980s, as his health improved, Ed and Beryl sold their New York apartment and moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia. From 1983, into the early 90s, Ed resurrected his recording and performing career in Canada, and began a new career as a successful character actor on Canadian television dramas, displaying his ramrod stature, ornamented by his white hair and beard--usually portraying men with the evangelical imperiousness of John Brown. In recent years, Ed's back, heart and lungs started deteriorating, leaving him bound to a wheel chair. But for all those who would telephone Ed in the recent years, he would always rise to the occasion, offer you his mellifluous voice, ask about old friends, and usually share a humorous `erotic' antidote with you and laugh that glorious laugh. . .

Ed was one of a kind. We will all miss him dearly. . . .

"Last night I had the strangest dream I ever dreamed before,
I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war.
I dreamed I saw a mighty room, and that room was filled with men,
And the paper they were signing said, `We'd never fight again!'

And when the paper was all signed and a million copies made,
They all joined hands and bowed their heads and grateful prayers were prayed.

And the people in the streets below were dancing round and round,
While swords and guns and uniforms lay scattered on the ground.

Last night I had the strangest dream I ever dreamed before,
I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war. . .
" See you in our dreams Ed….with undying love,

Doug Yeager


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: Abby Sale
Date: 24 Mar 00 - 09:40 AM

Thank you for posting Yaeger's moving eulogy, Mike. Ed was a tremendous force and a significant influence on me. I am one of those many people Yeager mentioned that phoned him from time to time. I can agree that Ed remained outgoing, alert and interested in folksong.

He was flattered and pleased that he was still remembered at all. But he would definately not like to be remembered as some kind of "eroticist" and certainly not as a "vulgarian." For a few years he actually regretted that he made Dalliance at all. Then he had another listen and decided they weren't that bad after all.


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 24 Mar 00 - 11:56 AM

He was a true eccentric, and God do I love eccentrics. He made fine music, and I'll miss him.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: GUEST,Roger in Baltimore
Date: 24 Mar 00 - 05:50 PM

It saddens me to see anyone of such great talent pass on. But, jeez, it looks like he lived a life to be envied and he had no regrets.

We are the ones bereft. I'll miss him.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: catspaw49
Date: 24 Mar 00 - 06:26 PM

A beautiful eulogy. As Rick said, a true eccentric, but it was a wonderful life and the eulogy touches on the good and the bad and the great. I'm glad so many other comments were made and not just the fact that he wrote "Strangest Dream." But ya' know, if that was all he ever did......it would have been enough.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: thosp
Date: 24 Mar 00 - 06:34 PM

"a jewel here on earth,a jewel in heaven" -sing with the angels Ed--

peace (Y) thosp


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Mar 00 - 08:41 PM

Lovely writing for what sounds like a wonderful man. I wish I could have met him. Sorry that he is gone now, but I'm glad he had the chance to see Strangest Dream sung around the world.


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 24 Mar 00 - 10:15 PM

I got an e-mail from Erik Darling today talking a little about his relationship with Ed. I'm sure he wouldn't mind sharing those thoughts with the "Cats"

Rick, Ed and I were quite close. We lived 3 streets away from each other and meshed very well in a whole lot of complex ways -- we got on famously, as they say. I first heard Ed on a radio show that came out of Canada when I was living in up state New York. So he was one of my heroes. I first met him at the Village Vanguard, in New York, and, of course, he was singing "The Strangest Dream." I remember talking to him at the bar down there, and he said "Everyone in the world should get in one big room, take off all their clothes and have peace." Yes, he was a character. At one point when he gave singing lessons to women he would say that it's best to have lessons while in the nude." I think he actually got away with this. Although he was considerably older than I, but both of us would behave like adolescents. He would drink considerably during recording sessions, the first one's of which were recorded in Leonard Ripley's apartment, somewhere in the mid 40 streets, I believe. And on the way home in the subways, we would get into dueling each other with our instrument cases. Just being silly. We would hit each other's cases pretty hard, even though this is an awkward thing to do, if you think about it -- it's hard to get them moving and on an intended line of attack. We didn't hit hard enough, of course, to damage the instruments inside, but there were hits that worried me now and again. God only knows what people who saw us thought. Not many people around at that hour, anyway. The point being, that he was really like a kid, and yet quite wise. And, he did say of "The Strangest Dream" that it was NOT an optimistic song. There was one time when Joan Baez wanted to record "The Strangest Dream" but wanted to change the words to it, and he simply wouldn't allow it. I have the specifics of this written down somewhere. But, he knew who he was, and had a lot of integrity, musical and in other ways. He was not a follower or a belonger to. His moral fiber lived within the straightness of his back bone and commitment to private principle. As well, he was passionate about the poetry of traditional folk ballad and folk music, and understood, eloquently, the extraordinary literacy of song poetry that came from people who would not normally be considered literate. He loved my accompaniment style and appreciated that I didn't get in his way. We really had gleeful times working together. Kids at play. I don't know if any of this is of use to you, but that's how it was. I loved Ed.

Erik

Me again. Erik played on a lot of the McCurdy albums and of course was with The Weavers and Tarriers before forming the Roof Top Singers and doing "Walk Right In".

Rick


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: pastorpest
Date: 24 Mar 00 - 10:19 PM

Thank you for the moving and informative tribute! McCurdy, described his unique faith this way. "At some point I gave up Christianity --- which was a great step forward --- and took up Jesus, which is easy to do." These words are from a much longer quote in which McCurdy is explaining his famous song. His mind and heart never stopped growing and in recent years he changed the lyrics to make them inclusive. The second stanza was changed to read, "I dreamed I saw a mighty room/ filled with women and men,/ And the paper they were signing said/ They'd never fight again."

Here is a prayer he wrote and recited each night at bed time. "Holy Spirit of the universe, Creator of all things,/ May I be in harmony./ May I rid myself of hostility and resentment./ May I control my compulsions, and/ May I live in peace through love."

The whole article by Ed McCurdy is in The Nova Scotia Song Collection published by Sea-Cape Music Ltd.


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: catspaw49
Date: 24 Mar 00 - 10:33 PM

Thanks Rick and pastorpest for the additional offerings.....I told one of our members here last night that in the final analysis things don't matter, people are important. Ed McCurdy was a good example of just that quite obviously.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: Willie-O
Date: 24 Mar 00 - 11:30 PM

Y'know, I didn't find out for many years that Ed McCurdy wrote "Strangest Dream". I knew him via a couple of old records my parents had--so when I think of him, it's always his delivery of this lyric (Homeward Bound, album of the same name of Nova Scotia songs) I hear in the minds ear:

We're homeward bound, to Halifax town
Hurrah, fare thee well
Hurrah, fare thee well
We're homeward bound, to Halifax town
Hurrah, my boys, we're homeward bound.

I remember reading in Pete Seeger's column in Sing Out that "Ed McCurdy asks people to please stop making up new versions of "Strangest Dream". He suggests you write your own song instead!" Folk process be damned!

Thanks for all the information. Makes me wonder: why didn't CBC TV ("We're running out of interesting people") do a "Life And Times" on him? Kind of a shame to find it all out in an obit.

Willie-O


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: Stewie
Date: 25 Mar 00 - 02:03 AM

I am sorry to hear of his death. Many years ago, I listened a lot to his 'Treasure Chest of American Folk Song' - I think Eric Darling was accompanying him on those - a wonderful overview of American folk song. His western albums also first introduced me to great cowboy songs like 'Punchin' the Dough' and 'Along side the Santa Fe Trail'.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 25 Mar 00 - 05:40 AM

Ed McCurdy has been one of my favorites ever since I first discovered his records in the mid 1960's. He sang songs I hadn't heard from Woodie, Pete, the Weavers and all. I had been trying to learn the guitar and was struggling with the F chord when I heard Erik Darling's 5-string banjo with Ed. Songs like Great-granddad, Little Old Sod Shanty and Buffalo Skinners. I was inspired to switch to banjo right then. I went out and got a Sears-Roebuck 5-string and Pete Seegers book and proceeded to learn the banjo and this helped me also with the guitar (especially with fingerpickin). I have worn out the tape of Ed and Erik that I had. I had an unusual experience a while back with the song: Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream. I have been playing mostly Irish music these past few years, butlast year I hooked up with a friend here in the Savannah Folk Club to do a Coffee House gig of the "old Folk songs". I had never sang "Strangest Dream" before, but he wanted to do it. I would sing harmony and play banjo. When I had first heard the song in the 60's I had sort of pooh-poohed it as an idealistic pacifist song. However, when practicing it alone one day, the words hit me and I was overwhelmed with emotion and my throat swelled to halt my singing. I contemplated the enormity of the idea and the vision of the room filled with the world leaders and the happiness it would bring upon the people of the world. Why not....someday, I thought. Maybe I am more idealistic than I realized or maybe I was touched by a ribbon of the spirit which caused the song to be written and sung. Who knows?


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 25 Mar 00 - 11:10 AM

Oddly enough, although he wrote "Strangest Dream", Ed was never much of a political "lefty", and avoided the witch hunts and blacklisting that plagued many of his friends.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: GUEST,Ron Olesko
Date: 25 Mar 00 - 11:38 AM

One of my fondest memories was sitting down with Ed to do an interview for my show TRADITIONS. We talked for a couple of hours and it was difficult having to edit it down to a one hour show - every word was a gem.

Ed was one of the most intriguing and inspiring people I knew. Physical challenges did not deter him and he inspired more people than he is given credit for. Truly underated in his role, but Ed was never one to worry about stature. He taught us to be true to our individual spirits and pursue our talents. I wish some record company would see the light and reissue his recordings. His collections of erotic and folk songs are unique and important sources. Strangest Dream has entered our conscious - it is a folk song for generations to come, unless Ed's dream is ever realized.

One of my most treasured possessions is a cassette tape that Ed gave me in the mid-80s. It contained original and traditional songs that he recorded with his son Dana ("the fruit of the seed of my loins" as he used to say).

We will miss you Ed, you were truly one of a kind. I'm blessed that I had an opportunity to know you.

Ron


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: GUEST,Dogwood
Date: 26 Mar 00 - 03:26 AM

Does anyone know if any of his recordings are still available?


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 26 Mar 00 - 10:06 AM

Tradition (now a subsidiary of Rykodisc) reissued Ed McCurdy's "Cowboy Songs" in 1996. There may be others, but that's the only one that I'm aware of being available.

Mike Regenstreif


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: Stewie
Date: 26 Mar 00 - 05:23 PM

There's also a 1994 CD of children's songs on Legacy (available CDNOW) and a 1993 CD 'Cowboy Songs of the Old West' with Alan Lomax, also on Legacy (available Tower Records).

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: Art Thieme
Date: 26 Mar 00 - 05:52 PM

To me, the best LP Ed did was BLOOD, BOOZE AND BONES on Elektra.

Just last night I went to see WEAVERMANIA --- four folks that lovingly and expertly recreate the grand singing group, the Weavers. Michael Smith, Mark Dvorak, Barbara Barrow and Tom Dundee brought down the house. It was wonderful. It was a packed house. Made me dig out my old recordings --- and also hope that WEAVERMANIS does some recording themselves. A whole new group of fans will be brought to our music this way folks. It's still the new peoploe up there on stage, but they sure as hell brought me back to those heady times with their faithful and exhileratingly tight Weaver harmonies. If this show breaks away from Chicago and starts touring, be sure to catch it. If you are an old Weavers' fan get ready to experience the same nostalgia trip you took when you first saw the film Wasn't That A TIME.

I could've put these few paragraphs at the Ronnie Gilbert thread butI've put this review here because in the Weavermania show Tom Dundee sang Ed McCurdy's song "Strangest Dream" and it's on my mind right now. What a truly powerful and succinct creation that song is. It was as moving as when Fred Hellerman used to do it with the original Weavers. I was lucky enough to get to see the Weavers in all of their incarnations. Now, after seein' Weavemania, I feel like I've come full circle. And those great songs that the Weavers sang are now a part of us. And the beat goes on.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: Stewie
Date: 27 Mar 00 - 05:44 PM

Dogwood

Yesterday, I received in the mail a copy of Bear Family Records 2000 catalogue. In addition to their vast CD catalogue, they have a few dozen vinyl LPs available - I didn't realise anyone was still making them! One of these is Ed McCurdy 'Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream' BF 15009. The track listing is:

Strangest dream
Mrs McGrath
Spanish is a loving tongue
The streets of Laredo
The Chisolm Trail
Whoopie ti yi yo
Jolly old Rogers
Bally Nure
Good old mountain dew
The nightingale
Poor boy
Venezuala
Acres of clams
Drill ye tarriers
Blow the candles out
Midnight special

Their email is: bear@bear-family.de and their website is www.bear-family.de

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 27 Mar 00 - 09:52 PM

Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 13:30:25 -0400
From: Sandy Greenberg razz@razzmatazz.ns.ca

Subject: Re: HFS membership

Here's an urgent message for all Harbour Folk-ers. There will be a memorial service for Ed McCurdy (who passed away on Friday last) on Wednesday, March 29, at 7 p.m., at the Helen Creighton Room at the Alderney Gate Library. Clary Croft will be hosting the event and singing a song. Several other people will perform, including Margo Carruthers and myself. The Helen Creighton Society will host a reception afterwards.
Beryl McCurdy will be there. Everyone is invited to attend. For more information, you can call me at (902)-455-8544.

Sandy


Please take the above as an invitation for other people in the Halifax to attend.


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: Hollowfox
Date: 28 Mar 00 - 10:40 AM

I'd like to send a sympathy card to Beryl and the family. Can anyone give me an address? Thanks in advance.


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: Abby Sale
Date: 29 Mar 00 - 08:57 AM

609-1333 South Park St. Halifax, NS B3J 2K9


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: Hollowfox
Date: 29 Mar 00 - 09:04 AM

Thanks


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: Abby Sale
Date: 29 Mar 00 - 09:06 AM

That reminds me. I and others were put back in touch with Ed a few years ago by a Judi Weinstein. This was a significant Good Thing. I've lost touch with her but would like to be sure she has this news. I found 9 of her on a web-address search but no responses from any.

Would any be able to locate the actual Judi Weinstein, the folkie?

Thank you.


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 29 Mar 00 - 09:19 PM

Well, the memorial was excellent. Clary started off with a song and spoke about the life of Ed McCurdy. He said that it was in Canada (Vancouver) that Ed had been swayed into concentrating on Folk Music. He also covered how Helen Creighton and Ed met, including reading a passage from her autobiography about that first meeting. During the talk, Sandy Greenberg sang a song she had learned originally from Ed's singing. Rose Vaughan was brought up and sang a verse she wrote and which combined with a few of the Water is Wide verses. It was just great.

Clary went on a few minutes longer, and then finished off with an excerpt out of a prayer that Ed McCurdy had said he used. The finale was Jim McCurdy, Ed's son, who led "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream". Jim McCurdy talked about his emotional meeting in Japan a few years ago. Some young man had come up to him, and said that he sang a song of peace in his reperitoire, written by a man with the same last name as him (Jim), "Strangest Dream". It blew the fellow's mind when Jim explained that he was the son of the man who wrote that song.


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Subject: RE: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: katlaughing
Date: 12 Apr 00 - 07:33 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: OBIT: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 07:05 AM

A song that is timeless and still needed. A song that will NEVER pass away. We should all have a "Strangest Dream" and NEVER stop dreaming. Thank you Ed McCurdy for you powerful and beautiful dream. Harold Adler - Berkeley Ca 2011


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Subject: RE: OBIT: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: topical tom
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 10:54 AM

A wonderful singer-songwriter whom I used to listen to in my youth. I especially enjoyed his singing of "Tickle Cove Pond", "Cotton-eyed Joe" (once his theme song)RIP, Ed. You may have passed on but your music will live on. There are many more songs that I can no longer recall.


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Subject: RE: OBIT: Ed McCurdy has passed away
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 10:58 AM

[thread from March 2000 refreshed]


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