Monthly Archives: July 2014

Si el Señor será tan*

Cover illustration: Two mexican peasants pushing a horse-drawn cart and photo of Les Paul and Mary Ford

Cover illustration: Two mexican peasants pushing a horse-drawn cart and photo of Les Paul and Mary Ford

I have always been taught to say “the Lord Willing” whenever I spoke of future plans in my life. Over the years, I have grown to respect and to repeat the phrase. It is one of those phrases that hits me just about every time I hear it.

Well, it hit me again with the 1955 song Amukiriki, which is Spanish for “The Lord Willing.”

Amukiriki is a melodious little song written by Bob Russell and Jerry Livingston that charted in 1955, reaching the number thirty-eight position. The only charted recording was by Les Paul and Mary Ford. This song was not one of the duo’s greatest hits, certainly nothing like How High The Moon, Bye Bye Blues, The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise, and Vaya Con Dios. The song apparently was used in a film entitled Amukiriki that featured Les Paul and Mary Ford. The film was inspired by the true travel adventure of Senora Adriana de Zola in Baja California, Mexico. (I have not been able to find any other information about this film.)

Les Paul (birth name: Lester William Polsfuss) met country-western singer Iris Colleen Summers in 1945. They began working together in 1948, at which time she adopted the stage name of Mary Ford. They were married in 1949. The songs they recorded featured Mary Ford harmonizing with herself and Les Paul’s multiple guitars. Paul and Ford used the now-universal recording technique known as close miking, a system in which the microphone is less than six inches from the singer’s mouth. This produces a more-intimate, less-reverberant sound than is heard when a singer is one foot or more from the microphone. When implemented using a pressure-gradient (uni- or bi-directional) microphone, it emphasizes low-frequency sounds in the voice due to the microphone’s proximity effect and can give a more relaxed feel because the performer is not working so hard. The result is a singing style that diverged strongly from the unamplified theater-style singing, that was heard in musical comedies of the 1930s and 1940s.

Les Paul had hosted a fifteen-minute radio program, The Les Paul Show on NBC Radio in 1950, featuring his trio (Ford, rhythm player Eddie Stapleton, and himself) and his electronics, recorded from his home and with gentle humor between Paul and Ford bridging musical selections, some of which had already been successful on records, some of which anticipated the couple’s recordings, and many of which presented re-interpretations of such jazz and pop selections as In The Mood, Little Rock Getaway, Brazil and Tiger Rag.

The show also appeared on television a few years later with the same format, but excluding the trio and retitled The Les Paul & Mary Ford Show (also known as Les Paul & Mary Ford at Home) with Vaya Con Dios as the theme song. Sponsored by Warner Lambert’s Listerine mouthwash, it was aired on NBC Television during 1954-1955, and then syndicated until 1960. The show aired five times a day, five days a week for only five minutes (one or two songs) long, and therefore was used as a brief interlude or fill-in in programming schedules. Since Paul created the entire show himself, including audio and video, he maintained the original recordings and was in the process of restoring them to current quality standards until his death in 2009.

During his radio shows, Paul introduced the fictional “Les Paulverizer” device, which multiplies anything fed into it, such as a guitar sound or a voice. It was Paul’s way of explaining how his single guitar could be multiplied to become a group of guitars. The device even became the subject of comedy, with Ford multiplying herself and her vacuum cleaner with it so she could finish the housework faster. Later, Paul created a real Les Paulverizer that he attached to his guitar. The invention allowed Paul to access pre-recorded layers of songs during live performances so he could replicate his recorded sound on stage.

* Si el Señor será tan is Spanish for “If the Lord shall will it so.”

Amukiriki (The Lord Willing)
Words and Music by Bob Russell and Jerry Livingston

Amurkriki, amukiriki, amukiriki
The Lord willing I’ll be with you
A distant journey, a safe tomorrow
Then you’ll hold me as I always want you to

In Mexico, amukiriki is as old as Mexico
And it means the Lord be willing
If the Lord shall will it so
Only then will there be harvest
Only then will rivers flow
No more adios to you
I’ll be close to you
If the Lord shall will it so

So I say “amukiriki”
With you deep inside my heart
Knowing that the Lord be willing
We won’t always be apart
After many purple twilight’s
We will see a morning glow
And I will run to you
Bring the sun to you
If the Lord shall will it so


Les Paul and Mary Ford


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