There are a few necessities for a picture-perfect Fourth of July celebration: a hot grill, a cold drink, a few firecrackers (conscientiously handled, of course), and a small wind band marching down the main drag. Though the draw of that last item may have faded in present times, it’s an element sure to be found in cinema of a certain age—not to mention more than a few old photo albums—and just as assuredly such a band would be playing one of two things: a rousing march by John Philip Sousa, or “76 Trombones” from Meredith Willson’s inimitable Broadway and silver-screen hit, The Music Man.
Naturally, when the native Midwesterner became available to lead a Fourth of July concert in 1967, Ravinia engaged him at once to lead some of his most beloved tunes. Though the program book was unclear as to who the musicians were that he led at the performance, there can be little doubt that Willson did so with much greater zeal than his antihero Harold Hill could have mustered.
But as for that for the musical he was working on at the time, 1491—the Music Man found out that sometimes, when trying to keep a string of successes alive, “Ya Got Trouble.”