Tuesday, December 4, 2007

"Start spreadin' the news..."

We were watching Good Morning, America on ABC-TV this morning, something we don't usually do, and suddenly there was Liza (with a "z") Minnelli (with two "n's" and two "l's") singing her signature song, "New York, New York," accompanied by a group of musicians with a Big Band sound, right there in Diane Sawyer's studio. It was, in my humble opinion, awful (Liza's rendition of the song, not Diane Sawyer's studio).

"...I'm leaving today..." Would that it were so. Liza is 61 now, and her voice is just not what it used to be. (But then, whose is?) Ellie said, "Ohhhhhhh, she's trying to be like Tony Bennett." To which I replied, "No, she wants to be adored the way her mother was." (Is anyone unaware that her mother was, as Wikipedia refers to her, "the legendary actress and singer Judy Garland"?) (Wow, three punctuation marks in a row!). The chance of being loved more than some people love Judy Garland is similar to the chance of being hated more than some people hate Adolf Hitler (or Hillary Clinton or the Ayatollah Khomeini or Saddam Hussein or O. J. Simpson or George W. Bush): slim and none. (Note to self: Try to stop using so many parentheses.)

Judy Garland was only 46 or 47 when she died. Liza's voice at 61, as I said, is just not what it used to be. The warble has changed to a wobble; her vibrato was wide enough to drive a truck through. The band took the intro at a faster pace than I have ever heard the song performed before, probably to accommodate Liza's lack of breath control nowadays. It reminded me of hearing a 33-1/3 rpm recording played at 45 rpm (something we used to do in the fifties to amuse ourselves, for all you iTunes and Blackberry people). It just didn't sound right. To be fair, though, everyone applauded and shouted and whistled and stomped when she was finished. (Much in the way people probably responded when the Queen Mary ocean liner docked in Long Beach.) (I really have to stop using parentheses.)

I know I'm sounding uncharitable. I have to work on that. It's a failing of mine. Mama used to say, "If you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all." Alice Roosevelt Longworth, on the other hand, once embroidered a pillow with the saying, "If you can't say something nice about someone, come sit by me." Maybe I should pray daily, "Lord, make me more like Mama, and less like Alice Roosevelt Longworth." (I wonder if Liza Minnelli ever prays, "Lord, make me more like Mama"?...oops, there are those pesky parentheses again.)

Speaking of the Lord and praying, the prayer we call His includes these words: "And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Even musically. For musicians, maybe especially musically. And Matthew wrote in his Gospel, "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged." Whoa! And Paul wrote to the Ephesians, "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you."

Now there's some news worth spreading.

1 comment:

  1. Speaking of Judy Garland, there is an exciting group on Yahoo called The Judy Garland Experience. The group features amazingly rare audio performances, never before seen photographs, and has the most eclectic group of Garland fans anywhere! The membership includes Garland family members, people who knew and worked with Judy, other celebrities, authors, film makers, and fans of every level. The only one missing is you.
    This weeks rare audio files include Judy's 1965 performance at the Thunderbird, a 1968 Lincoln Center appearance, a 1958 concert in Minnesota, appearances at the Hollywood Bowl and Ambassador Hotel, a rehearsal for a concert at the Palladium, a 1961 concert at Sydney Stadium bt Frank Sinatra, an audio biography of Garland, and much, much more!
    Please stop by our little Judyville and check it out, you may never want to leave! http://movies.groups.yahoo.com/group/thejudygarlandexperience/