An excerpt from the Mill Valley Herald:
MVH: How would you describe the response to the song over the years?
RA: Absolutely amazing! I never would have dreamed people would remember it this long. And the dramatic nature of some of the fan letters, like the war veterans who felt that hearing it in their heads while in the trenches saved their lives. I can’t begin to tell you how moving some of the letters are. And they keep on coming. And surprisingly enough, the vast majority are from men!
And from KGO-TV in San Francisco:
MILL VALLEY, CA (KGO) -- It was 40 years ago Christmas day that a Mill Valley kindergarten teacher wrote a song that changed her life, and the real estate of the town. The song was "Mill Valley," sung by Miss Abrams and the Strawberry Point third grade class. It was a Billboard top 5 hit in 1970 and the simple song caught the world's attention.
An emerging filmmaker named Francis Ford Coppola directed a music video of the song, Rolling Stone magazine did a story and Annie Leibowitz shot pictures of the kids. The original recording was done by kindergartners, but it sounded so bad that they borrowed the third graders to make the record.
Rita Abrams is still writing songs for musical comedy. Her newest "New Wrinkles: The Middle-Age Musical" plays New Year's Eve at the Seafood Peddler in San Rafael. She is also writing a book on the "Mill Valley" phenomenon. She says she is still hearing from people around the world who may have heard the song for the first time. The song is available on the Internet and so is the music video.
Others write to her, nostalgically recalling the music from childhood and third graders in Mill Valley schools are still being taught the song. And like the song lyrics, Abrams still lives in Mill Valley. "That's my home."
Rita has a lot more projects in the air than just the upcoming Mill Valley book. But she's always been the busy sort. Just check out my previous post It's Rita Abrams Day Here At tommcmahon.net!! and work your way backward through the links.
I started corresponding with Rita after she saw my 2004 post The 1970 Hit Song Mill Valley, by Miss Abrams and the Strawberry Point 4th Grade Class, and I'm proud to have her as an internet pen pal. A long time ago stars like Hopalong Cassidy and The Lone Ranger took their role model responsibilities very seriously. But today it's so hard to find a celebrity who truly is what they seem. Pee-Wee Herman. Most sports superstars. Even a star of "the good old days" like The Singing Nun has a story that's sad beyond words.But then there's Rita Abrams, still living in Mill Valley, California (that's her home!), still creating joy for so many people in so many ways, and you realize that maybe you weren't so naïve for believing in that happy little song after all.