WEEK 33 / 6 – 12 FEBRUARY 2015

225 FRIDAY 6 FEBRUARY 2015

Proud – Heather Small – Top 10 Contender

Queer As Folk

I’ll always associate Proud with “Queer As Folk”, the TV show.

It is a nice coincidence that I write about this song in the week I’ve just finished binge watching “Queer As Folk”, the American series. I watched and enjoyed the original run from 2000 to 2005. However, it was only this second time around that I’ve come to appreciate the cultural and, in a way, the historical significance of the show. Before 2000, no TV show had ever addressed so openly the issues of the gay community in any city, USA. For the first time, many young gay people saw themselves mirrored in real characters that captured with precision the reality of their lives.

The characters were wonderful. I had forgotten how much fun it was to see Emmett (Peter Paige) being his fabulous self. This time around, I could relate more to Ted’s (Scott Lowell) constant search of something meaningful to fully live his life. Michael (Hal Sparks) was a bit judgemental and took himself too seriously, but I’ve met many gay guys like him, just following middle-class rules. Brian (Gale Harold) was as enigmatic and aloof like the first time around, and his love story with Justin (Randy Harrison) is one for the books. Their relationship will go down in TV history as the first realistic portrayal of a gay love story. Debbie Novotny (Sharon Gless) has got to be one of the top 10 mothers in television; no mother has been more supportive and non-judgemental than her. Then, there are the lesbians, Mel and Linz (Michelle Clunie and Thea Gill) who I, have to admit, didn’t like them much the first time, but adored them the second time around.

The topics the show dealt with were also fascinating, from conversion therapy (pray the gay away) in the first season, to bug chasers (healthy guys who want to be infected with the HIV virus) in the last season. Who can forget those decadent parties at Babylon? Or the sleaziness of Liberty Baths?

It was hard to watch at times, particularly those scenes dealing with inequality at the turn of the century. It was heart-wrenching to see Melanie and Lindsay settle for a commitment ceremony instead of marriage, but there was also a relief to know how much the gay movement has accomplished in the last 15 years, not only in the USA but in the rest of the world.

A lot has happened since the series went off the air; and yet, it is amazing to see how it is still relevant to the younger generations of gay men and women who have discovered it, watched it and loved it for the last 15 years. There’s always someone who says the British version was much better, and that may as well be the case but it is the American version the one that keeps playing year after year with the same club thumpa-thumpa of its original run.

Song Title: Proud – 2000 Genre: Pop   Artist: Heather Small   Composers: Heather Small, Peter-John Vettese   Lyricists: Heather Small, Peter-John Vettese   Album: Queer As Folk

Favourite Lyrics: What have you done today to make you feel proud? / It’s never too late to try / What have you done today to make you feel proud?

226 SATURDAY 7 FEBRUARY 2015

Getting to Know You – Julie Andrews, Children’s Chorus, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra

Rodgers & Hammerstein_ The King And I

Cute, cute, cute. That’s all I can say about this delightful song from “The King And I.”

It is worth mentioning that I realised recently that, although I love many of the songs from “The King And I.” I only have one full recording of this show, the 1951 original recording with Gertrude Lawrence. The rest of the songs, including the ones I’ve put on the list, come from incomplete albums. That’s strange. It doesn’t sound like me.

Song Title: Getting to Know You – 1951   Genre: Musical   Artist: Julie Andrews, Children’s Chorus, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra   Composer: Richard Rodgers   Lyricist: Oscar Hammerstein II   Album: Rodgers & Hammerstein: The King And I

Favourite Lyrics: Haven’t you noticed / Suddenly I’m bright and breezy? / Because of all the beautiful and new / Things I’m learning about you / Day by day.

227 SUNDAY 8 FEBRUARY 2015

Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye – Michael Feinstein – Top 10 Contender

Romance On Film, Romance On Broadway (Disc 2)

I have always liked this song, the lyrics are poignant and heartfelt, Why the Gods above me, who must be in the know. / Think so little of me, they allow you to go. How about that strange feeling of going from major to minor? Which I’m sure we have all felt. The song is such a “book” song (a composition that moves the story along in a musical) that I always assumed it came from a Cole Porter’s play. I wasn’t sure which one, so as I was preparing this blog entry, I went online to do a little research.

Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye comes from the 1944 show “Seven Lively Arts”. However, here’s the thing, it is not a play, it is a musical revue; so, I have to wonder where Cole Porter found the inspiration to write the song. Why are the lovers saying goodbye, and why is it so often? Who are they that they can’t stay together and endlessly depart from one another?

Cole Porter lived in an era where he had to dress up his homosexuality with a heterosexual cloth, hence his marriage to a woman. I assumed he had male lovers, so I wonder if he was thinking of any of them when he wrote this song. I can see him waking up in the middle of the night, in his lover’s arms, dressing up, stealing one last kiss, and hurrying up back home to his wife, full of sadness and sorrow for a life he only gets to live for a few hours, one or two days a week.

Of all Porter’s songs, this one and “In the Still Of The Night” (coming up in Week 38), I believe, are perhaps the most personal songs he wrote.

Song Title: Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye – 1944   Genre: Musical   Artist: Michael Feinstein   Composer: Cole Porter   Lyricist: Cole Porter   Album: Romance On Film, Romance On Broadway

Favourite Lyrics: There’s no love song finer, / But how strange the change / From major to minor… / Ev’ry time we say goodbye.

228 MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2015

Kim’s Charleston – Tammy Amerson, Elaine Stritch

Show Boat Cast Recording

From “Show Boat” comes this sweet tune with simple but profound lyrics. Kim’s Charleston’s borrows the lyrics from “Why Do I Love You?” and moulds its melody into a rousing and syncopated charleston tableau. Earlier, at the start of Act II, Parthy sings it to her baby granddaughter, Kim. Towards the end of the show, it is Kim who sings it to her grandmother before launching into her frenetic dance with the rest of the company.

Back in my first days as an editor and motion graphics designer, I used this song to help me develop a sense of rhythm between shots and pacing. Every time I hear it, I tend to intercut shapes and forms in my head as if I’m trying to come up with a fluid design.

Song Title: Kim’s Charleston – 1927   Genre: Musical   Artist: Tammy Amerson, Elaine Stritch Composer: Jerome Kern   Lyricist: Oscar Hammerstein II   Album: Show Boat Cast Recording

Favourite Lyrics: You’re a lucky girl, I am lucky too / All our dreams of joy seem to come true / Maybe that’s because you love me / Maybe that’s why I love you

229 TUESDAY 10 FEBRUARY 2015

The Best Thing That Ever Happened Alexander Gemignani, Claybourne Elder

Road Show (Soundtrack from the Musical)

As I was getting ready to do a write up of this song, I did something I wasn’t supposed to do when I started working on this project. I swapped versions of this song.

The Best Thing That Ever Happened comes from Sondheim’s “Road Show”, a show about the Mizners, two brothers who shaped Boca Raton in Florida, among other things. This is not the first time this song makes it to the list, though. Well, sort of. The first song of week 4, “Act II: The Game” contains a few verses of the song. However, in that version of the show (known as “Bounce” initially), it is interpreted by one of the brothers, Wilson, and his lady friend, and it is a recurring theme through the show. When the show was revised, Sondheim gave the song to the other brother, Addison, and his boyfriend to sing.

I had originally chosen the quartet from the show “Sondheim On Sondheim” which presented the two variations of the song. It is a gorgeous version, and Vanessa Williams, in particular, sounds glorious. However, there are so few songs of men singing about love to one another that I decided to swap the quartet with this duet.

Song Title: The Best Thing That Ever Happened – 2003   Genre: Musical   Artist: Alexander Gemignani, Claybourne Elder   Composer: Stephen Sondheim   Lyricist: Stephen Sondheim   Album: Road Show (Soundtrack from the Musical)

Favourite Lyrics: You are the god-damnd’est thing that has happened to me… / Ever / When did I have this much happiness happen to me? / Never / I can’t believe my luck / And all I can do / Is be the best thing that’s happened to you.

230 WEDNESDAY 11 FEBRUARY 2015

Brotherhood of Man – Nick Jonas, Rob Bartlett, Ellen Harvey

Songs from _How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying_ the Musical Comedy - EP

Yep, Nick Jonas of The Jonas Brothers fame has made it to the list. Of course, there’s a show tune involved, why else would he be on this list?

In 2012, he took over the lead role in the 50th-anniversary revival of “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying”. I had the chance to see the show in early 2012, and being from the school of “If-you’re-under-35-I-may-not-know-who-you -are”, I wasn’t entirely sure I knew who Nick Jonas was. My first clue came with the number of teenage girls in the audience who screamed their lungs out when he first appeared on stage. Oh yeah, he must be some sort of pop idol, I remembered. I rolled my eyes, sighed and asked myself, what’s next? That Beaver lad as Oliver?

By the end of his first song, I was charmed, and by the end of act one, I knew I was in the presence of an immensely talented young man. I later found out, Jonas had started his career on Broadway at the age of seven. He had been in the casts of the revival of “Annie Get Your Gun”, and the original runs of “Beauty And The Beast” and “Les Misérables”. Few thespians can say they’ve accomplished such an impressive resume by the age of 11. Nick Jonas is a talent to keep an eye on.

A few songs from the show featuring Jonas were recorded and release later in 2012, Brotherhood Of Man being one of them. I’ve always liked the happy-go-lucky quality of it. Nothing profound, or significant, just the idea of all men, straight, gay, bisexual or transgender, being united in a big brotherhood where we take care of each other. I know, it’s a naïve thought, but one can only hope.

Song Title: Brotherhood of Man – 1961   Genre: Musical   Artist: Nick Jonas, Rob Bartlett, Ellen Harvey   Composer: Frank Loesser   Lyricist: Frank Loesser   Album: Songs from “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”

Favourite Lyrics: Your lifelong membership is free / Keep a-givin’ each brother all you can / Oh aren’t you proud to be / In that fraternity, / The great big Brotherhood of Man?

231 THURSDAY 12 FEBRUARY 2015

Star! – Julie Andrews

Star

For someone who doesn’t like Julie Andrews much, I’m the first one surprised to see her appear for a fourth time on the list. In reality, it is because of this song, which brings good memories from when I was a teenager and used to watch a TV show called “Tiempo de Cine” (“Movie Time”).

The programme was dedicated to showcasing film classics. At the start of each show, they’d have a short report about the movie or genre they were presenting that night. It was in one of those short stories that I first heard Star! The song was used for a montage of many actresses in different movies and roles.

That was the first time I paid attention to editing. For the first time, I noticed how the cuts on the montage were driven by the beat of the music. The marriage of pictures, cuts and music was so flawless and efficient that I’m almost sure that was the first time I memorised a song, at least its melody, after only listening to it once. I guess that was the result of a good edit.

Song Title: Star! – 1968   Genre: Musical   Artist: Julie Andrews   Composer: Jimmy Van Heusen   Lyricist: Sammy Cahn   Album: Star!

Favourite Lyrics: If her smallest party is really extensive / With tons of expensive caviar / If the lady’s someone / With the same credentials someone / With the same essentials someone / Who is worshipped from afar