Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Take What? Pave What?

At this very moment, I am probably being more productive overall than at any time in my life. That would be great, if I were a high-powered CEO, equipped with an exit strategy and a cottage in the West. And I don’t mean the Pacific Coast.

Most of my productivity is getting me slaps on the back rather than money, which is fine for proving my claim that I am not overly materialistic. But the juggling I am doing is making me delay by a week a post I have waited to put together for several months. I am hopeful that next week it will see the light, but the research is time-consuming, and I am not available to do it correctly today.

So, I may as well get back into my wheelhouse and write about what I know: my childhood musical experiences. One memory relates to one of my current time-consuming projects, so I’ll tell you about that as well. I won’t jump away from this year’s blog premise, either; the artist I am featuring has a female vocal lead. Here we go.

I lived in Bloomington, Indiana from August, 1978 to July, 1998, with some short forays into the real world (Mexico, Indianapolis, Gary). When I got to Bloomington, I went downtown a few times to check it out; they were filming the Academy Award-winning film Breaking Away then, which made downtown seem appealing. But the reality was different: As is the case with most Indiana county seats, Bloomington had a courthouse on a square. The square was wall-to-wall old buildings, some of which had active storefronts. The others, like the former Kresge store, stood empty. The commercial action was all at College Mall.

By 1983, the square was truly dying. A glance at the newspapers of the time show talk of demolishing the courthouse to try to build something that would appeal to consumers. Horrified preservationists stepped in, and the courthouse still stands. But what to do about the terrible economic situation of the heart of Bloomington?

Someone looked around and said, “Let’s take out the parking meters. The Mall advertises its free parking as a selling point, and we get complaints daily about having to plug a meter to shop downtown.” The city put bags over the meter heads for a few months, and investors, shop-owners and customers began to flood the square. The city removed the meter heads, and eventually it sawed off the poles at sidewalk level. Downtown Bloomington is now the cultural and commercial center of South Central Indiana, and there isn’t even an interstate shunting traffic into it.

That lesson was not lost on me when I walked down St. Germain Street in St. Cloud, Minnesota. In the downtown area, there are 327 parking meters. If you park, you pay. If you decide to stop downtown but aren’t carrying coins, you don’t stop. There are about 11 empty storefronts on that street.

It turns out that the St. Cloud Downtown merchants have been begging the city to ditch the meters for years. But their pleas were based on instinct, rather than hard evidence that a meter-free Downtown would be a successful Downtown.

And then, this February, I lost a quarter in a defective meter. I was not offered a refund. I wrote to the mayor, and I told him about the Bloomington Renaissance and the role of meter removal. He had me put on the Parking Committee agenda. I went to Bloomington, took a lot of photos, turned them into a PowerPoint presentation, and the Parking Committee ran with the concept.

From there, it was easy work to get the Downtown Merchants on board. The Downtown Council is using the momentum to full advantage, with stunning results. Soon, the proposal, complete with a unanimous merchant petition, will be taken to the City Council, where I will present my PowerPoint essay for the fourth time. If the vote is what the Downtown Council hopes it will be, we will bag the meters, use essentially the same parking formula that made Bloomington rich, and recreate St. Cloud’s Downtown. All without spending any money on a consultant to tell everyone what they already knew: what worked in Bloomington will work here.

That means that I have been out getting signatures on the petition. The merchants of St. Cloud’s Downtown are very excited. It is a good feeling. But I couldn’t get to the media item I wanted to review for today’s post.

I’m done writing on what I know about St. Cloud in 2009. The topic reminds me, though, of a song that has caused me occasional embarrassment since I lived in Gary in 1970.

It was August of that year, and I was staying at my Aunt Eileen’s house then, mostly in the company of my cousin Bob. I wrote a lot about them last year, because so many of my personal-soundtrack songs came from that summer and that house.

One of the songs I left out last year was a lively cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi.” I heard the version by the Neighborhood a lot on WLS, though it spent just 4 weeks in the national Top 40, beginning with its debut on August 8. It climbed only to #29, which should have meant it got no airplay on WLS. Not so. It peaked at #11 on the WLS survey. (The week it reached #17, it was billed as “Bi Yellow Taxi.”)

Bob didn’t sing a lot, but he sang this song. That’s what has gotten me into trouble over the years. Bob’s lyrics went like this (the words can’t even be a mondegreen): “Take down a bank, put up a parking lot.”

His sister, Lois, told him repeatedly that the song referred to “paradise.” Bob didn’t remember that, but I did. However, I figured she meant that the lyrics were “Take paradise, put up a parking lot.”

Inevitably, I sang that line in the presence of a Joni Mitchell fan, circa 1986, in Bloomington. Her gleeful, shocked, mocking laugh still rings in my ears. And on the rare occasions that I am expected to quote the line in question, I tend to say, “Take—pave paradise, put up a parking lot.”

Thanks, Bob.

It took me until last summer to get the song, as recorded by the Neighborhood, known in Whitburn as a “seven-man, two-woman pop vocal group.” The two women are in the foreground of the vocal arrangement. Given some recent covers of the song, you might think you hate the thing. But I like this peppy version. Thanks to my parking-issue time crunch, I’m not going to research the group further.

Well, I couldn’t help but sneak a peek. Joni wrote it about seeing a parking lot in the distance while she was in Hawaii. There you go.

Fortunately for me, while I’m wandering around St. Cloud’s Downtown, this song does not run through my mind. At least, it hasn’t so far.

If I need more excuses for delaying the post I wanted to write today, I’ll tell you about the Barbeque Saga.

Saturday, I’ll bring you Week Eighteen of the Great 1950s Chart Meltdown. See you then!

The Neighborhood, Big Yellow Taxi

Saturday, April 25, 2009

1950s Chart Meltdown, Week 17: A Multitude of Instrumentals

For the background on this blog series, see this post.

As spring really arrives in Minnesota, it’s time to listen to bird calls and reflect on a bunch of cover records.

April 23, 1955: Bill Hayes still rules the #1 spot on all three charts, but the all-important Best Sellers chart is poised to welcome a new #1 next week. That song will be the biggest #1 of the 1950s, and no one will log more weeks atop the charts until 1992.

This Best Sellers chart shows that, despite its definition as part of the Rock Era, it is really part of the estuary between “old” music and Rock and Roll. Debuting on the Best Sellers is a song by a big band, Art Mooney and His Orchestra, “Honey Babe.” Also appearing for the first time are Roy Hamilton’s take on “Unchained Melody” and a Broadway tune, Sarah Vaughan’s “Whatever Lola Wants” from Damn Yankees. Dinah Shore, one of the classic 1940s singers, will eventually chart a cover of this tune as further proof that we are not out of the woods when it comes to music for the previous generation.

April 28, 1956: We are truly in the Elvis Era now. His first hit single, “Heartbreak Hotel,” reigns on the Best Sellers for the second week, though he still is looking up at Les Baxter’s “Poor People of Paris” on the other three charts. Perry Como is also outperforming him on the Jockey and Juke Box charts at #2 with “Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom),” an eventual #1 Jockey hit. Apart from the eventual 8 weeks that “Heartbreak Hotel” will top the pop charts, it’s worth noting that this single will be a #1 Country hit for 17 weeks. Four of his Sun sides charted on the Country list before his first Top 40 pop hit.

Just a pair of debuts have reached the Best Sellers this week. The Four Lads’ intended follow-up to “No, Not Much!” is “My Little Angel,” which debuts at #22. However, next week, the single will sort itself out, and the flip, “Standing on the Corner,” will start to dominate. “My Little Angel” is peaking this week, but the flip will shoot to #3 this summer.

This is a huge time for instrumentals. Apart from “Poor People of Paris,” represented by Les Baxter, Lawrence Welk and Russ Morgan, we see “Moonglow and Theme from Picnic” in Morris Stoloff and George Cates versions. (An eventual vocal version of “Picnic” by the McGuire Sisters will feature lyrics by Steve Allen, who played piano on the George Cates instrumental version of “Autumn Leaves.”) Another current instrumental is “Main Title (Man with the Golden Arm)” as recorded by both Elmer Bernstein and Richard Maltby. This song is also covered by Dick Jacobs (“Main Title and Molly-O”). The McGuire Sisters’ flip to “Picnic” is “Delilah Jones,” taken from the melody of the Bernstein hit. Don’t forget Nelson Riddle’s “Port au Prince” and “Lisbon Antigua,” the latter covered by Mitch Miller, and the slow-dropping “Theme from the Three Penny Opera (Moritat)” by Dick Hyman. This musical conjunction leaves me without words.

Thank goodness we have some real rock and roll joining the fray: “Blue Suede Shoes” in an Elvis (Presley) cover, and “Long Tall Sally” by, well, Pat Boone.

April 27, 1957: The #1 spot on all four charts is “All Shook Up,” which takes care of the previous weeks’ turmoil.

Coming back to haunt us is a “Banana Boat” cover, this time with intentional comic relief by Stan Freberg. Bonnie Guitar, who will eventually own a successful indie label, debuts on Dot with “Dark Moon.” A welcome throwback is the Top 100 surge of Rosemary Clooney’s “Mangos,” her final Top 40 hit. Not much else is going on this week.

April 28, 1958: The gospel musings of “He’s Got the Whole World (In His Hands)” by Laurie London still top the Jockey chart, but in addition to having been preceded by “Tequila,” this song is now rivaled by the pagan posturing of David Seville’s “Witch Doctor,” which leaps to #1 on the Best Sellers and the Top 100.

Best Sellers debuts were looking pretty pale until I read all the way up to #9, where “All I Have to Do Is Dream” by the Everly Brothers starts its successful quest for the top spot. The best evidence of the song’s initial impact is on the Top 100, where the record leapt from #69 to #7.

April 27, 1959: The #1 song this week, “Come Softly to Me” by the Fleetwoods, is indeed soft, an anomaly in a week where the Top Ten is full of peppy tunes. Some of the tunes are corny (“Venus” by Frankie Avalon, “Pink Shoe Laces” by Dodie Stevens), but you can’t deny their energy.

This week marks the beginning of the Exotica wave. “Quiet Village” by Martin Denny shoots into the Top 40 in its third Hot 100 week. Soon, this and other tunes laden with bird calls and African percussion will be gracing not just the airwaves, but the turntables of millions of Hi-Fi sets in bachelor pads around the country. Eager young men will be serving martinis, wet or dry, to their potential conquests, all thanks to Martin Denny. It seems to me that there was an uptick in baby boys named either Martin or Denny in the early 1960s. Now we know why.

Another strong debut is “A Teenager in Love” by Dion and the Belmonts. Jumping from #69 to #34, it’s the first eventual Top Ten for these guys. Despite the huge debut, it’s not the biggest one of the week: that belongs to none other than Edward Byrnes, with some help from Connie Stevens. Yes, friends, rocketing from #72 to #25 is “Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb),” which instructed a generation of teens and pre-teens in the proper method of acquiring head lice.
For your listening pleasure, let’s have a listen to a couple of the true quirks of 1950s hit-making: the baby-engendering Exotic Sounds of Martin Denny and the louse-spreading kitsch of Edward Byrnes. After all, it’s spring.

For Wednesday, look for a musical book review that honors the Sunshine Pop era. You’ll love it. See you then!

Martin Denny, Quiet Village

Byrnes & Stevens, Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The More Things Change . . .

In the earliest days of the recording industry, master recordings could reproduce a severely limited number of copies. Therefore, an artist would have to record a popular hit hundreds of times to replace worn-out masters. It was also customary for artists to record the same song for more than one label. Often it is possible to keep track of the recording date of a take, but that information doesn’t always accompany mp3 files.

For that reason, it is very difficult for me to know exactly which of the early recordings I own is the oldest in my collection. I am fairly confident that the song I am featuring today, “Turkey in the Straw” by Billy Golden, is my oldest recording, even if it is not as old as the song’s original chart date: October 17, 1891.

Several details about this recording fascinate me. First, Billy Golden was born before the Civil War began. Second, when he sang about a horse breaking the tongue of a wagon, he was singing about the only conveyance he was likely to know. These days, if an old-time group sings “Turkey in the Straw,” it is a quaint exercise in how things used to be. Billy could easily visualize the song’s scenario from his daily life, and there really was no alternate reality for him.

Born William Heins in Cincinnati in 1855, Billy developed a significant vaudeville career for himself. That made it easy for him to transition to a recording career, though chances are good that his live performances were more perky than his recordings, especially once Billy got up to around one hundred takes or so.

Billy was a specialist in two types of early recordings: the laughing song, and what is now recognized as racist content. The laughing song involved the artist chortling loudly over the instrumental parts of the song, perhaps to encourage laughter from a live audience, perhaps to pull some chuckles out of those who listened to the recordings. Either way, the laughter sounds forced to me.

As for racist content, there’s a small chance that some recordings were a celebration, rather than a mockery, of African-American life. I won’t try to make a case for that point of view, but I can say that racism was so deeply embedded in American culture that it’s difficult to find a pioneer artist whose body of work is untainted by it.

Billy died in 1926, with 6 chart hits to his credit. “Turkey in the Straw” reached #1 for seven weeks at a time when there were few data to analyze and little competition for the top spot.

A characteristic of this and virtually all early recordings is a phenomenon that has returned in the 2000s: at the beginning of the record, the title and artist were announced and, in this case, the label was also announced. The person announcing this recording for Edison Records is Thomas Edison. Nowadays, as songs are cranking up, often rappers will give their name and tell us who is singing with them. As you can tell, the idea is not a new one.

And one other idea that has returned as of 2006 is the melody of “Turkey in the Straw.” The melody, with the parody lyric “Do Your Ears Hang Low?,” was further parodied as “Chain Hang Low” by Jibbs (Jovan Campbell), and the single entered the Top 40 on August 26, 2006, reaching #7.

While we all know about sampling and retreads of songs that are just a few years old, the idea that a hip-hop artist based a song on a 180-year-old melody intrigues me. Give the songs a listen, and meditate on how vast a space the creative tableau is in the world of music.

For Saturday, it's Week Seventeen of the 1950s Chart Meltdown. See you then!

Billy Golden, Turkey in the Straw

Jibbs, Chain Hang Low

Sunday, April 19, 2009

1950s Chart Meltdown, Weeks 14-16: All Comfy

For the background on this blog series, see this post.

A few historic events are taking place in the April music charts of the 1950s, so let’s catch them up.

April 2/9/16, 1955: The Bill Hayes version of “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” rules the Best Sellers chart for all three weeks. Not so with the Juke Boxes and Jockeys—the McGuire Sisters top both charts for all three weeks with “Sincerely.” Hayes will eventually make his chart-topper unanimous, but the sisters are holding on for now.

Among the April 2 debuts is one that puts the song in question into a select group. This is the third version of “Make Yourself Comfortable” to chart in the Best Sellers. While the Sarah Vaughan version, which debuted on 11/27/1954, reached #6 on the Jockey chart and #8 on the Best Sellers and Juke Box charts, the Peggy King version and this one, by a guy named Andy Griffith, each spent one week in the Top 40 on the charts, and for both artists, it was their only week in the Top 40 in the Rock Era. So, the song spawned not one, but two One-Week Wonders.

How did the song accomplish this feat? Well, though it is not as creepy as “Go On with the Wedding” or as stalky/murderous as “The Little Blue Man,” this tale of a woman who is using all of her feminine wiles to seduce a seemingly naïve young man is not truly compelling drama. Andy Griffith takes advantage of that slight tackiness, as his is a comedy version where he deconstructs the sexual tension. It is, for that reason, the best version of this song, which should have made even 1955 audiences snicker, even in its most serious versions. For the record, the vocalist on the Andy Griffith cover is Jean Wilson.

April 2 also brings complexity to the singles charts, as this is the last week of individual chart positions for flips on the Best Sellers and Juke Box charts. The Top 100 will continue to show individual chart action for double-sided hits, but from now on, when a Best Seller wanes, labels will try to push the flip in order to buoy a record’s chart performance.

In contrast to the cover weakness of “Make Yourself Comfortable,” April 9 brings us the first two versions of a 4-song 1955 smash, “Unchained Melody.” Les Baxter, His Chorus and Orchestra enter the Best Sellers one spot behind Al Hibbler, but Baxter will take the song to #1, with Hibbler stalling at #3. Once all four versions have charted, I’ll feature them here.

April 16 produces yet another One-Week Wonder, the Laurie Sisters, with the unforgettable “Dixie Danny.” Yay for the Laurie Sisters!

April 7/14/21, 1956: Les Baxter dominates the #1 slot, owning three of them with “Poor People of Paris” and leaving one to Kay Starr’s “Rock and Roll Waltz” on April 7. Kay’s 6-week run atop the Juke Box chart ends on April 7, but the kids still waltz at the soda shop for several more weeks.

A significant April 7 Best Sellers debut is Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally,” an eventual #6 hit that will spend 8 weeks at #1 on the R&B chart. This is Little Richard’s breakthrough hit.

Three versions of “Ivory Tower” are on the way, with the Cathy Carr version debuting on April 7 and climbing eventually to #2, a major coup for a 1-hit artist on a Cincinnati indie label (Fraternity). Her big competition, from Gale Storm, is also a Top Ten hit, on Dot. The Charms (listed on the charts as Otis Williams) round out the artists charting this song.

This is also the week that Dean Martin climbs to #31 on the Top 100 with “Innamorata.” He featured the song in a Martin Lewis film, Artists and Models. A Jerry Vale cover pales by comparison, of course.

One of the older One-Hit Wonders of the Rock Era debuts on April 21, with “Moonglow and Theme from Picnic.” It’s Morris Stoloff, in his 20th year at the helm of Columbia Pictures music, who decided in an inspired moment to resurrect the 1934 #1 Benny Goodman hit “Moon Glow” and merge it into the theme from the recent Holden/Novak hit film Picnic. Stoloff will take his instrumental to #1.

April 6/13/20, 1957: The four #1 spots are a mess during April, 1957, as Perry Como’s “Round and Round,” Tab Hunter’s “Young Love,” and “Butterfly” by both Andy Williams and Charlie Gracie, claim a slot atop at least one chart. Coming along soon to consolidate the charts is “All Shook Up” by Elvis (Presley), which debuts at #9 on the Best Sellers on April 6 and jumps to #1 there on April 13.

April 13 marks the end of an era, as the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, now recording for Fraternity Records, charts Jimmy’s final hit. “So Rare” will reach #2 on the Jockey and Top 100 charts on June 17 and 24, respectively, just days after Jimmy’s death from throat cancer. He recorded the sax part in November, 1956 and died on June 12.

April 7/14/21, 1958: With “Tequila” at #1 to start the month, seeing that song replaced by a gospel tune “He’s Got the Whole World (In His Hands)” by Laurie London), is sort of like reinstating Prohibition, I think. But the Platters balance it out on April 21 when they climb to #1 with “Twilight Time.”

Ricky Nelson leads the way on the April 7 debuts with “My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It.” If this doesn’t sound like one of Ricky’s brighter moments, maybe it’s not. It was the intended A-side, it seems, but the Whitburn books’ rule is to list as the A-side the song that charts higher between two songs that debut on the same date. Thus, the eventual bigger hit was “Believe What You Say.” Does that work better?

Showing his radio power, Dean Martin debuts on the Jockey chart at #20 with “Return to Me.” He is tied for #50 on the Best Sellers and tied for #53 on the Top 100. Clearly, radio was ready for another Dino tune.

An iconic R&B tune hits the Top 40 (#27) and the Best Sellers (#29): “Book of Love” by the Monotones. Despite the song’s inclusion in bunches of anthologies and the reference to it in “American Pie,” the Monotones did not hit the pop Top 40 again.

Moving on to April 14, an odd juxtaposition of debuts occurs on the Best Sellers. Frank Sinatra re-enters the Top 40 with “Witchcraft,” while David Seville debuts one notch higher with “Witch Doctor,” the precursor to the Chipmunks franchise.

The highest debut on this date, though, is at #7: “Twilight Time” by the Platters. It’s no surprise, then, that April 21 will find “Twilight Time” atop the Best Sellers.

Another huge debut comes aboard on April 21, and it’s one of the Elvis (Presley) songs that sound far too contrived for my tastes. I don’t know anyone who is a big fan of “Wear My Ring Around Your Neck,” but evidently it seemed to be a good idea at the time, as it debuted at #9.

A lesser April 21 debut but a still-recognizable tune is “Chanson d’amour,” by Art & Dotty Todd. This was their only U.S. Top 40 hit, but they had a thriving Las Vegas career, and they owned a supper club in Hawaii for a number of years, so they probably didn’t notice the lack of ongoing hits.

April 6/13/20, 1959: Frankie Avalon gives way to the Fleetwoods’ “Come Softly to Me” atop the Hot 100, but “Venus” will hang in the Top Ten for several more weeks.

The Fabian Era is truly underway now, with “Turn Me Loose” earning its Top 40 debut at #39 after entering the Hot 100 at #79 on March 30. The song will be his first Top Ten hit.

The big debut for April 13 is a song with a sad provenance: “Three Stars” by Tommy Dee (Donaldson), with singing by Carol Kay, written by Eddie Cochran, is a tribute to the victims of the Clear Lake, Iowa plane crash on February 3, 1959. The song enters the Top 40 at #21 in its third week in the Hot 100.

While April 20 provides us with several mildly recognizable Top 40 debuts, I think it’s more important to note the Hot 100 entry of “Wang Dang Taffy Apple Tango” at #62. The artist? Could it be anyone other than Pat Boone?


For your listening pleasure, make yourself comfortable and enjoy three hit versions of “Make Yourself Comfortable.”

For Wednesday, I am considering bringing you the oldest recording I own, a #1 hit from 1891. I may decide against it, as there’s not a lot of biographical information on this artist, but I’ll see what I can do.

Sarah Vaughan, Make Yourself Comfortable

Peggy King, Make Yourself Comfortable

Andy Griffith, Make Yourself Comfortable

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Who Ate Us? Hy Ate Us.

I have doggedly blogged each Wednesday and Saturday since January 1, 2008. I missed Saturday, April 4, and that opened me up to the temptation to take a short hiatus. I wasn’t burned out; a number of extracurricular (i.e. non-blog) projects reached the tipping point in the same short stretch of time. I didn’t think it would matter, but I got a few “what’s up” emails and an unnervingly consistent hit rate. So, to those of you who stopped by and found yourselves reading the same post for two weeks, I apologize. I am also grateful for the fact that you kept looking.

Now, let me tell you what I intended to tell you on Saturday, April 4. If you look at the previous (April 1) post, I discussed an artist named Mik Tap who releases all of her recordings backwards. Well, as it turns out, I masked the goal of that profile pretty well, as no one who asked me about her realized that it was an April Fool’s Day joke (not that any of you are fools). The singer is named Patty Kim, and she has been a mainstay of the Korean Adult Contemporary scene for some 50 years. The two songs I posted were two Korean-language recordings: “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and the “Do Re Mi” song from The Sound of Music.

Maybe you still see some humor here: Although the Republic can easily be construed as the Republic of Korea, if you wish, I can’t imagine how the puns of the Do Re Mi thing translate to Korean.

How did I get the Patty Kim Greatest Hits CD? When I worked at Tracks Records in Bloomington, Indiana, a guy came in, wanting to sell the CD as a used item. The store had no use for it, but I thought, “You never know when you might need a CD in Korean.” So I gave him two bucks for it, and my co-worker said I really made the seller’s day.

Well, two years later, I was tutoring an exchange professor in English. He was, of course, from South Korea, or this would be quite the digression. After a few sessions of English practice, I remembered the Patty Kim CD, and I pulled it off the shelf. He exclaimed, “Patty Kim!” and he sat, mesmerized, through the entire CD. At one point, he cried. So that was two dollars well spent.

I am posting the songs in their original format, below. A number of the recordings on the CD are in English, and her English is far more than passable. It’s really not a bad collection, if you enjoy cabaret music, and she is an icon of Korean pop. God bless Patty, and Mr. Cho, who cried when she sang.

And now, I want to bring up a female artist who is not quite breaking news. Most everyone will have heard her by now, but if I introduce her to even one new listener via this blog, I will consider the time and space worthwhile.

If you have ever watched American Idol, the U.S. counterpart to Britain’s Got Talent, you probably encountered the phenomenon of William Hung, who turned his shocking inability to sing into a recording career. We fixate on train wrecks, it seems.

Within the past few days, April 12, I believe, Britain’s Got Talent was doing auditions in Scotland for the upcoming season. You probably know from watching the auditions for American Idol what that tends to mean: people appear who can’t sing but sadly have been informed by their families and friends that they should go for it. Simon and the gang then have a good chuckle at their expense.

The British show has no age limit, unlike the U.S. show, so in the Scottish auditions, a matronly 47-year-old woman, unemployed and unkissed, stepped out in a modest dress and high heels to sing a song from Les Misérables, which she mispronounced. Simon rolled his eyes. Here we go, everyone thought.

And there we went. If you don’t already know this video, please watch the entire prelude to her performance, and listen to the song, and let the reaction of Simon and the other judges wash over you. It is really an unforgettable experience. If you saw it elsewhere, enjoy the event again. If you have not yet heard of Susan Boyle, don’t thank me for bringing her to your attention, as I owe my own acquaintance with her experience on stage to a string of people.

There’s no embedding allowed, so click here to see the video in another window.

So, there’s that, and I’ll get back to the 1950s charts for Saturday. See you then!

Patty Kim, Battle Hymn of the Republic

Patty Kim, Do Re Mi