Sunday, August 16, 2009

A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Or, as Vice President Dan Quayle once said, “It’s a terrible thing to waste one’s mind.” I think he gave us his garbled version around the time he said, “Why, yes, thank you, I believe I will have another potatoe.”

The older I get, the weirder I get. I admit it. (Honesty is the best policy.) One day a couple of weeks ago I woke up with “Jambalaya” running through my head and posted about it, as the few faithful readers of my blog may recall. Where it came from, I have no idea. Since today is Sunday, the Lord’s Day, you might think I would wake up thinking of “Holy, Holy, Holy” or “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” or even “Jesus Loves Me,” but no. Instead, I woke up with the lyrics of Irving Berlin’s “You’re Not Sick, You're Just In Love” playing inside my head, sung by Russell Nype and Ethel Merman.


I hear singing and there’s no one there;
I smell blossoms and the trees are bare;
All day long I seem to walk on air;
I wonder why,
I wonder why.
I’ve been tossing in my sleep at night;
And, what's more, I’ve lost my appetite;
Stars that used to twinkle in the skies
Are twinkling in my eyes;
I wonder why.

You don’t need analyzin’,
It is not so surprisin’,
That you feel very strange but nice.
Your heart goes pitter-patter,
I know just what’s the matter,
Because I’ve been there once or twice.

Put your head on my shoulder,
You need someone who’s older,
A rubdown with a velvet glove.
There is nothing you can take
To relieve that pleasant ache,
You’re not sick, you’re just in love.

Then he (Him, Russell Nype) and she (Her, Ethel Merman) started singing their parts in counterpoint, which means they sang two different tunes at the same time, interweaving the melodies, and it was all very impressive. Eventually Ed Sullivan came onstage to announce next week’s rilly big shoe. I think these particular memories are circa 1950 -- Irving Berlin’s Call Me Madam and TV’s Toast of the Town combined, all tucked away in black and white in the recesses of my gray matter.

Please believe me when I tell you that I didn’t look up any of the lyrics to create this post. I didn’t have to. They were just there, inside my forehead, waiting to spring forth full-grown like Athena from the forehead of Zeus.

It’s not like I went out of my way to memorize the lyrics to that song or anything, any more than I went out of my way to forget what I ate for dinner last Tuesday evening. It’s just how things are. I can remember Ethel and Russell from 60 years ago. I can’t remember what went down my gullet last week.

As I said, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

I have a theory. Nothing we ever say or do or hear or see is forgotten. It’s all stored away in our brain somewhere, awaiting the Judgment Day, when everything will be brought into the light. Before that day arrives, however, God in His mercy allows us to purge ourselves of some of the nonsense we’ve collected on our way to the big event, much like Mrs. RWP often skims the fat off the top of the chicken soup she makes. Out with the bad; in with the good, and all that. Not that chicken fat is bad. It does have its uses. You just don’t want too much of it in your soup. And the more gunk we remove from our insides, the more room there is in there for God. Either we remove it voluntarily or we will have it removed forcibly from us later. Finally, in the end, I think, we will hear nothing but Him.

It’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

I also believe in serendipity. For example, I just discovered this clip on Youtube wherein Kristin Chenoweth and Nathan Lane sing this very song. In keeping with the changes that have occurred in our world, Kristin sings Russell Nype’s part and Nathan sings Ethel Merman’s part.

One thing I do know for sure. Nathan Lane is no Ethel Merman. Okay, so she’s a little long in the tooth in that clip. So for you show-biz purists out there, here is the one, the only, Ethel Merman, a bit earlier in her career. One gets the feeling she could have kept on singing for hours.

Let J. Danforth Quayle try to top that! Politics only cloud the mind. Nothing clears the cobwebs away like a good Ethel Merman medley.

What was I saying again?


  1. RWP:

    I believe the version U remember of this was with Frank Sinatra, but I cannot remember the female singer.
    It is a quite wonderful song actually, particularly the last past.
    If you have that in the memory bank, that is truly amazing!

  2. Reamus, now you have me thoroughly confused. By "U" do you mean me (RWP) or did your finger slip when you meant to type "I" (meaning you, Reamus)? Because I definitely do not remember a version with Frank Sinatra. According to a Wikipedia page I just found by googling "You're Just In Love" there were three recorded versions -- Perry Como & The Fontane Sisters, Rosemary Clooney & Guy Mitchell, and Ethel Merman & Dick Haymes. But the performance in my memory banks is definitely a visual one starring the original Broadway cast, Ethel Merman & Russell Nype, when they appeared on Ed Sullivan's Sunday night television show. He was the nerdy, geeky one wearing glasses. Russell, I mean, not Ed Sullivan.

  3. it has been a sad sad thing in my life, my mind that kids and now my grands think i am wierd because of what tricks my mind plays"grampa resse would sit on glitter, grampa barlow', or WHY DO YOU WEAR THAT T SHIRT WITH SKULLS AND CROSSES ALL OVER IT....BECAUSE IT ONLY COST ME 2 DOLLARS AND IT HAD BEEN ON A RACK FOR 15 YEARS IN JACKSON HOLE WYOMING WITH NOBODY BUYIN IT..and wyh do you listen to waylin willie sing????

  4. In regards to mental detritus, I agree with your theory. Why is it that random philosophers are more interesting than plotting politicians? I think it has something to do with foundations and sand and storms ... but don't quote me. I'm glad I found your blog.

  5. RWP,

    Most assuredly a finger slip. I didn't see it until I "published" and didn't want to take the whole thing down.I really should preview these things, shouldn't I?

    I do not remember Ethel belting that out , although Ed Sullivan was someone I grew up with. Maybe it is the Perry Como version I recall...such is my memory these days.

  6. Aren't memories wonderful. I often wake up with a song my grandmother played on her Victrola running through my head but by the time I am fully awake all I can remember are the words " It was only a fade letter, only a line or two"
    I can't locate the rest of it anywhere.

  7. A wonderful song. You beat me at remembering all the exact words, but not by much! :) I am very fond of counterpoint and I can hear this song's version in my head even without listening to the clip you so graciously supplied.

    Where have all the "good old songs" gone?

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  9. I think the verse telling us that we'll have to give an account for every idle word we spoke is the scariest one in the Bible! (Why is "chumpsui" the verification word? Is it a Chinese insult, I wonder?)

  10. Hi Mr. Brague, I had trouble commenting earlier. Here it goes again.
    Wow, you really have some strange stuff recorded in your head. It's kind of like:

    "Dear Mr. Gable, I am writing this to you, and I hope that you will read it, so you'll know. My heart beats pitter-patter, and I stutter and I statter every time I see you at the picture show. I guess I'm just another fan of yours and I thought I'd write and let you know oh, oh oh, You made me love you...I didn't want to do it, I didn't want to do it. You made me love you. And all the time you knew it. I guess you always knew it. You made me happy sometimes you made me sad, but there were times Dear, you made me feel so bad." -Judy Garland.

    Gee, I feel better unloading that. Thanks :)

  11. nathan lane and the blond chick were brilliant. Nathan did the second part of the song and it's got me hooked on the song. Seen it now many times on youtube.