I was curious about Meredith Willson, who wrote the book and music for "The Music Man."
As I researched this biography, I discovered he was born in Mason City, Iowa.
Ohhhhh now the "Iowa Stubborn" song makes sense. He knows Iowans.
According to an article in Center Stage magazine, "In 1949, many people, including the songwriter Frank Loesser, suggested that Willson write a musical about his early life in Iowa. So using his memories of Mason City, Willson created The Music Man. Each character in The Music Man's River City is based on someone he knew from Mason City. Marian Paroo, the famous librarian from the song "Marian the Librarian" and the show's female lead, is based on Willson's mother, complete with her music lessons and love of knowledge and culture. Marian's mother in the show is based on a German woman who would come to clean the Willson's house every Saturday, and the boy Winthrop who solves his lisp problems with the song "Gary, Indiana" is Willson himself as a ten year old. And the lovable con man, "Professor" Harold Hill? Before the opening of The Music Man in 1957, Willson wrote in The New York Herald, "Harold Hill...is so many people that I remember different ones every time I see the show."
No wonder everyone can relate to the people in the show. They're real.
The second musical he wrote was "The Unsinkable Molly Brown."
However, the favorite bit of trivia that I discovered was that Willson wrote "Chicken Fat" in 1962, a song that played in school gymnasiums across the nation as part of President John F. Kennedy's youth fitness program. Not sure what I'm talking about? Listen to "Chicken Fat" here.
It's very "Music Man"-ish with Robert Preston singing to a marching tempo. And, you iPhone fans probably know that "Chicken Fat" was used in a television commercial for the iPhone 5S this year.