Sunday, August 31, 2008

Yours Merrily, George Young

Among concertina history enthusiasts and post card collectors (admittedly a group slightly smaller than your local branch of the Star Trek fan club), many images pose mysteries that are seemingly unsolvable. In most cases, photos of proud concertinists displaying their instruments or proclaiming their virtuosity go unidentified -- who is that Salvationist? Why did he go to the trouble of having a postcard printed with his image emblazoned on it?
None is more mysterious than the ever-merry George Young, a blind concertinist apparently from the North of England. Young was certainly industrious: there are at least 4 different postcard images of him that were printed, and they must have been printed in good quantities as they turn up more regularly than photo cards of star performers like Alexander Prince. Usually portrayed holding his top-of-the-line Lachenal Edeophone -- that strange 12-sided concertina that has been described as the closest thing to a square circle -- Young's card always feature his trademark greeting, "Yours merrily, George Young."
Despite the profusion of cards, no one has been able to trace a newspaper notice marking a performance by Young, nor is there any sheet music, phonograph recordings, poster or handbill that has survived attesting to his popularity. Maybe he just played for local events or had a relative in the postcard printing business who gave him good rates on cards.
Despite his apparent lack of acclaim, he left his mark, merrily, on many lives who kept his cards as some kind of cherished memorial to a bygone recital, where the blind concertina player amazed with his repertory of the latest popular melodies. Or so we must imagine.
And think also of the countless other George Youngs who played in anonymity, self-proclaimed master entertainers, whose worlds probably extended just a few kilometers from home.
And still stubbornly he remains: Merrily yours, George Young. World's most pictured unknown concertina player. If nothing else, a tireless self-promoter. Long may his fame resound.

1 comment:

Perry said...

Hi Richard:
Glad to see (no pun intended) that Mr. Young is "merrily" getting some attention. As far as I am aware, he is most notable for posing for photographs of himself, his concertina and his wife.

Also very much like the book countdown device. It reminds me very much of the CNN countdowner to Sarah Palin's speech last week. 37 days from now until the book. 63 days until no more Sarah Palin.