Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Songs: Would-Be Intellectuals and Sophisticates Should Definitely Take a Pass

Reconnecting with some of my old girlfriends.

This is about the farthest foray into cheesecake that any of the Lennon sisters ever attained. Sadly, such explorations of the possibilities of their latent sexiness were pulled back sharply after this enchanted Indian summer of warmth and almost-exuberance. This seems to have been the best opportunity to take a gander at Dianne's legs ever afforded to the public as well. In the episodes after this season (this is another clip from '64) severe restrictions on the girls' movements, such as a total ban on anything hinting at sensuality more explicit than some occasional suggestive eye-batting, appear to have been implemented, and the more constrained, exacting Dianne emerges upon the scene.

While I like her rendition of this song because it is hers, it does not measure up to that of the frequently awesome Eydie Gorme:

If Dianne Lennon is my wife and Judy Garland is the girl I like but who is just too unstable to become emotionally involved with, Eydie Gorme is the girl I see secretly on the side and actually like a lot but don't really want the whole world to know about. She combines Ethel Merman's ability to hit the back wall of the auditorium with Judy Garland's sense of how to deliver a song--not that Ethel Merman is lacking in this regard either but Eydie Gorme's delivery reminds me more of Judy Garland's, patiently drawing it out at a relaxed but purposeful pace, guiding the listener through its inherent character and building up to a rollicking climax without being overdramatic or losing the bond with the audience. I feel like this particular approach is something of a lost art. It isn't that these old singers didn't like to show off and get a lot of attention, but they are able to convey a sense of excitement and being caught up in some dynamic current of real life that is very exhilarating to hear.

Speaking of Judy G, somebody working on her behalf is very assiduous at taking down all her old movie footage almost as soon as it appears. However, there are still any number of generic song postings, such as her version of "Stomping at the Savoy" which was recorded when she was 14. As with most of her renditions of songs, this is the definitive "Stompin'" for me now:

Her voice was expressive of the times in an artistically good way right up through the end of World War II, but those last pre-war years, '36-'41, she was really attuned to something essential in the spirit of the age that was also perhaps its most admirable as well as important characteristic. I admit I have not yet figured out what this might be, at least not so as to present it concisely--I think it has something to with being  unapologetic, unconscious of this unapologetic quality, dissatisfied, restless, eager for life and capable of enjoying it earnestly, for a moment at least, all at the same time. But these are as yet vaguely gathered impressions.

Coming back down to earth with a ridiculous Lennon Sisters video from 1967:

The poor dears had to endure the indignity of growing more and more infantile in their act as they got older, for which their singing suffered tremendously. Indeed, as far as the quality of their songs went, their peak was attained around 1956-59, when they were still children and teenagers. All that said, they still look so good  I just don't care how lame they are, or submit to being. They're probably also pretty staunch Republicans of some kind. If so, at least they are a somewhat appealing advertisement for adhering to that ethos. I doubt they are Nazi Sympathizers or anything really bad. While I genuinely am turned on by girls who are fiery socialists if I shied away from falling in love with Republicanettes in my youth it was secondarily to do with their beliefs; I'm sure I instinctively figured I didn't have enough money or swaggering dominance (at that time, of course; not now) to meet what I perceived to be their exacting requirements.

I could never quite get into Fleetwood Mac, though they sure have a heck of a lot of famous songs. More than Journey even. This one was a radio hit when I was in 11th grade, and it reminds me of the incredible desperation I had to engage in life in those days and the accompanying limited ability to act upon that desperation in any adequate way, and not just with regard to sexual and romantic things, but pretty much everything. I had not been aware until recently that the video was an adaptation of the famous school-poem "The Highwayman".

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