I thought at first that maybe it was in honor of Mariah Carey, because the wind blows, and so does she.
But obviously, the song was written long before she was a gleam in a plastic surgeon’s eye. So why do they call the wind Maria?
As you might guess, I watched “Paint Your Wagon” the other night on TV. It’s a hilarious movie – just not when it intended to be. This is the musical that features tough guys Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin – singing. Or allegedly singing. I think they were supposed to be singing.
Is anyone familiar with the stage version? If so, did the character played by Lee Marvin sing “Maria”? Watching the movie version, I noted when they were introducing the song that it would have been logical for Marvin’s character to sing it, the way it was being set up. Instead, the scene switches to a different locale and has a different character sing it – someone with a darn good voice.
To Marvin’s credit, he was very funny in many of the comedy scenes. It’s been said that comics can do serious drama but dramatic actors can’t do comedy. But Marvin was very good with some of the funny stuff. I suppose he was cast in this role because of his Oscar-winning performance in “Cat Ballou.”
The play Paint Your Wagon bears little resemblence to the weird movie they made with the same name.
In the play, They call the wind Maria is also sung by a different character. It is sometimes hard to tell exactly who “should” sing what, since the movie mixes up several characters and destroys the plot, but Marvin sang I was born under a wanderin’ star that, in the play, is sung by the character Ben Rumson.
(The original play had a central plot of Ben’s daughter, Jennie, falling for a Mexican and both Jennie and Julio disappeared from the movie.)
Maria was picked simply because that was the name (with that odd pronunciation) that Lerner and Lowe chose.
Actually, it is correctly spelled as Mariah. (The Kingston Trio site has it misspelled.
Just a guess, but I suspect the name was chosen by Lerner (wasn’t he the lyricist?) because its vowel sounds are kind of haunting – just as the wind is.
Tess and Jo, on the other hand, are easy and comfortable names for rain and fire. I think of rain needed for crops and the cosiness of campfires. But there is something about the wind that is lonesome and wistful.
I loved Paint Your Wagon – even when Clint Eastwood talked to the trees. Really! And Lee Marvin’s voice on “Wanderin’ Star” would have been hokey if he could actually have sung.
One of my favorite songs from the film begins:
“God made the mountain.
God made the sky.
God made the people.
God knows why…”
Jean Seberg was a fascinating person. Very attached to the Black Panthers in the 1960’s. She committed suicide and is buried in Paris.
Storm by George Rippey Stewart in 1941 was responsible for the naming of Pacific storms after women. In the novel the storm is “Maria”. This was the inspiration for Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s “They Call The Wind Maria.”
Thanks, Zoe – I love this movie too. I was raised on it, as it is my dad’s favorite. Back in the day before VCRs, it came on TV once in while and it was an event in my house. We owned the soundtrack, too. Then, after my folks got their first VCR, I bought him a VHS of the movie for Father’s Day – he was a happy, happy man. I don’t care what anyone says – this is a movie (I admit it is a weird movie) with a lot of great lines. I paraphrase one whenever the missionaries come to call – I throw open the doors and shout, “Holy Moses! [The] Mormons!” Beautiful scenary, too and it reminds me of home – I’m from northern California not far from where it was filmed.
I’ve always considered this movie to be an effective argument that Jean Seberg was the worst singer in Hollywood. For the musical numbers, her voice was dubbed. How’d you like to be told you couldn’t hold your own against Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin.