We live in an information-overloaded society, yet we actually know so little. While I was reading this book I took a straw pole of some people I know, and 100% of them had no idea who the Colwell brothers, or Herb Allen are. So much information, yet so little knowledge is a real problem in today’s world. The three ‘cowboy brothers’ and Herb, probably did more for world peace, or at least peaceful co-existence, than any President, or any government organization has ever done. Frank McGee has produced a great book that chronicles the story of these eclectic individuals. Even better the book is peppered with photographs of the actual people and events.
The story starts right after WWII, the Colwells are in their teens, and have a true skill in the entertainment world. Initially self-taught, they make their mark on the radio landscape, appearing in the Tex Williams weekly show. Invited to ‘tour’ overseas for one month the young brothers can not resist, and against their parents' better judgment they set off on their adventure. It was almost a decade before they returned to the US. As part of MRA (Moral Re-Armament) and later Up With People they joined in the youthful mission to try to make the planet a better place. As the saying goes, ‘They boldly went where no man has gone before’. If there was conflict, you could guarantee that the Colwell brothers were not far away, acting as ambassadors of peace.
A Song For The World is a great and heartfelt work, Frank McGee has certainly done his homework; he follows the Colwell’s and Allen across the planet. From India, Africa, China, Russia, and just about every other country you can think of, we watch these kids grow into men, and subsequently fathers. Very late in the book McGee talks about how they became married men, and I have to admit it is a pretty strange tale. As nomadic minstrels they had little opportunity to go through the conventional courtship rituals. Instead they married first and dated later! While this sounds bizarre, the formula obviously worked for them.
There are very few musicians that have the bragging rights that these guys have; they have played for Kings and Queens, Emperors and Empresses, they have entertained millions of people, and yet never had a top 10 hit! This is a fascinating read and reveals a side of humanity that today is sadly in short supply: happiness, caring, and above all giving. We can learn much from the selfless actions of the Colwell brothers and Herb Allen.
What absolutely blew me away was that for the best part of 20 years these guys received no pay at all, they just relied on the kindness of others to provide for their day to day needs.
A Song For The World is well worth the price of admission, and should be on everyone’s reading list for the summer.