Wednesday, December 31, 2008

From the archives: After experiencing both Darlene Edwards and Anna Russell... is well-advised to return to sanity and the normal world gradually to prevent damage to one’s cerebral cortex. Therefore, since today is New Year’s Eve and 2008 will soon be replaced by 2009, we have just the thing. We shall accomplish our return, our decompression, as it were, by way of our very own A Festival Of Auld Lang Syne Performances.

The first performance will be on the musical saw with accordion accompaniment (I said we must do this gradually), plus there is a bit of the human voice. Experiencing this particular performance is eerily reminiscent of listening to Darlene Edwards herself, but it will begin to accomplish our ends. When the voice enters (which I believe is female, but I may be wrong), we are actually able to forget Darlene for a time by concentrating instead on what seems to be a very poor imitation of the young Bob Dylan from a time when Bob’s lyrics were still comprehensible. Here, then, from 2006, is the androgynous Nicki Jaine on both the saw and the vocal, accompanied by Roy Ashley on accordion, with Auld Lang Syne #1.

Next, class, we travel through both time and space to Detroit in the year 1987 to hear the young Aretha Franklin and Billy Preston sing a Motown version of our festival theme, Auld Lang Syne #2. Inexplicably, there is a brief appearance by comedian David Brenner at the end of the performance.

As we continue to mellow and chill and let the old year slip away, who better than saxophonist Kenny G to put us in the proper mood? Here is the third rung on our decompression ladder, Auld Lang Syne #3. You may skip this step only if you majored in jazz saxophone in college and consider Kenny G as having sold out for commercial success.

Last year, I searched for a fitting Auld Lang Syne #4 with which to close the Festival. After listening to dozens of possibilities, I decided against subjecting you to Barbra Streisand’s turn-of-the-millenium Las Vegas concert rendition and settled instead upon the Alexandria Harmonizers, the 2003 medal winners of the International Chorus Singing Contest at the SPEBSQSA Convention in Montreal, Canada (SPEBSQSA is the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America), singing one of the best renditions of Auld Lang Syne I have ever encountered. This year, unfortunately, that video is no longer posted in cyberspace because of some squabbling over copyright issues, so I am forced to take a different tack. This year, instead of listening to a fourth version of Auld Lang Syne, let us take a little stroll down memory lane and enter the land of Auld Lang Syne itself.

Help yourself to one or more of the following musical stars of yesteryear:

Doris Day,

Vic Damone,

Lena Horne,

Perry Como and Eddie Fisher,

or the great Nat King Cole!

In Gloria Swanson’s role as silent-film star Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, she had one of the great lines of all time: “They didn’t need dialogue. They had faces then!” When I listen to these singers, I feel like saying, “They had voices then!” I shudder to think what fans of today’s music will be thinking are “golden oldies” thirty or forty years
from now.

Our Festival has now come to an end. It has done its work and our decompression is complete. You may now return to your normal lives, where you are free to choose any kind of music that helps you get through your day.

[A slightly different version of this post was first published on December 30, 2007. --RWP]


  1. What can I say? When the first notes of the saw ?music? began to play, I thought one of my cats had been trapped somewhere and was in mortal pain! :) Interesting, to say the most. Thought I was going to have to have a cup o'kindness to settle my nerve. Yep! My last nerve!

    However, by the time I worked through Lena Horne, Doris Day and the super-tranquilizing voice of Nat King Cole, I was again a happy camper!

    I regret that the barbershop chorus YouTube presentation is no longer available. I'm quite fond of barbershop. My son is the director of the Diamond State Chorus (Arkansas, the Diamond State) and no mean singer himself. I would have enjoyed that.

    Happy New Year's Eve to you and your Dear Wife, and a Happy and Peaceful New Year.

  2. I actually enjoyed the musical saw video, but I have to say there is a much more angelic version that even Pat might like - go to and click on 'Auld Lang Sine' in the Christmas CD section.

    Happy New Year!

  3. Thanks for the URL, Michelle. I sincerely respect the talent of all musical saw players, and The Saw Lady's rendition of Auld Lang Syne was better. However, I fear I will not ever be a big fan of that particular instrument. Somehow, the slightly off-key notes remind me too much of my own attempts to vocalize anything highter than C above Middle C. :)

  4. Great "Auld Lang Syne" variety here. Thanks for the tour. I hope 2009 is off to pleasant start for you and your family!