288 FRIDAY 10 APRIL 2015
There’s No Business Like Show Business – Ethel Merman
I’ve always been fond of La Merman. I’m unsure if she reminds me of my mother’s favourite cousin, Isabel, or if Ethel was the first diva I ever became aware of.
I’m sure I first saw her on a rerun of “The Lucy Show”, where she played herself but pretended to be someone else. In typical Lucy fashion, she tries to get Merman to perform in a PTA benefit or something like that; not only was I charmed by her, but what a set of pipes she had. Probably around the same time, I saw her on an episode of “That Girl” with Marlo Thomas. Again, she played herself doing some sort of show where Thomas’ Anne Marie had a walk-on. Once again, she charmed me.
Little by little, I started gathering as much as possible about her; songs, interviews, etc. Then, suddenly, one day, she had become this larger-than-life character, reminiscent of a motherly and doting drag queen, if you will.
I remember one day, I must have been 14 or 15; I was shopping with my parents at an imports/antique store when I saw “The Ethel Merman Disco Album” among the records. I asked my mother if I could buy it. I’m sure my request must have confused her or sent her some signal. Why would I want to purchase a record with an older version of her cousin Isabel wearing a caftan at a discotheque on the cover? She said no. I understood.
Fast-forward more than 20 years, a few days before the big blizzard of 03 hit the east coast of the United States, I got my copy of “The Ethel Merman Disco” from Amazon. The record had been issued for the first time on a compact disc. After reading the CD insert, I discovered that she didn’t record the songs with the disco orchestrations; she wouldn’t allow it. She came into the studio, sang all the songs the way she had been doing for years, and she was out of there in one day. It’s clear that La Merman wasn’t into the disco craze of the late 1970s; however, being a savvy businesswoman; I suppose she just saw the possibility of making money. By doing that, she cemented her status as a true “Diva”. Even Donna Summer said so. If I’m the queen of disco, you are the Disco Diva, she told La Merman when they both ran into each other at the recording studio. “The Ethel Merman Disco Album” is camp gold; go out and buy it. You will have a blast.
Song Title: There’s No Business Like Show Business – 1946 Genre: Musical Artist: Ethel Merman Composer: Irving Berlin Lyricist: Irving Berlin Album: The Ethel Merman Disco Album
Favourite Lyrics: There’s no people like show people / They smile when they are low / Even with a turkey that you know will fold / You may be stranded out in the cold / Still you wouldn’t trade it for a sack o’ gold / Let’s go on with the show / Let’s go on with the show!
289 SATURDAY 11 APRIL 2015
This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) – Natalie Cole
Not straying far from the disco era, here’s one of my favourites from that period, This Will Be (An Everlasting Love). I remember when this song came out, it used to play on the radio all the time. I believe it is one of the few songs from that era that can still play nowadays and blend perfectly with today’s trends.
In the early 1990s, I saw Natalie Cole in her “Unforgettable” concert. As a reprieve, she did This Will Be (An Everlasting Love), but with a big band arrangement. It was as gorgeous as its R&B version.
Song Title: This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) – 1975 Genre: Pop Artist: Natalie Cole Composer: Chuck Jackson, Marvin Yancy Lyricist: Chuck Jackson, Marvin Yancy Album: Natalie Cole: Greatest Hits, Vol. 1
Favourite Lyrics: This will be, / you and me, / yes sir-ee / eternally / Hugging and squeezing, and kissing and pleasing, / Together forever through rain or whatever.
290 SUNDAY 12 APRIL 2015
Turkish March – Zdenek Chabala & Turkish Philharmonic
Ludwig makes it to the list not for its classical roots but for its association with mainstream culture. An electronic variation of Turkish March was used as the central theme of Latin America’s most popular TV show in the 1970s, “El Chavo”. Every kid who grew up in Latin America during that decade, and those who came after, has grown under the influence of this Mexican sitcom created by Roberto Gómez Bolaños’ Chespirito’.
The farcical show centres around a nameless orphan only known as “El Chavo” (The Kid) who lives in a barrel in a low-income building block. His interaction with the rest of the block’s residents is full of physical comedy and gags for the younger viewers. Still, at the same time, it offers double entendres for its older audiences.
For years, I thought the show to be just a silly reminder of how easy I could be entertained when I was a child. After watching a few episodes on Netflix, it was only recently that I came to appreciate how clever the show was. I found myself laughing out loud at many of their situations. There’s a reason why after 45 years, the show still plays non-stop throughout the Americas.
Song Title: Turkish March – 1809 Genre: Classical Artist: Zdenek Chabala & Turkish Philharmonic Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven Album: Classical For The New Age
291 MONDAY 13 APRIL 2015
Up With End Credits – Orchestra
This is not the first time I have featured a song from the “Up” soundtrack. Now that I’m approaching the end of the list, and I’ve already listened to my entire music library a few times, it is safe to say that this is my favourite score of all time. Never have I seen a better example of a movie where the score drives the narrative rather than just being an element in the background that you would only notice if it wasn’t there anymore. “Up” is a movie told from its soundtrack point of view.
Its composer, Michael Giacchino, won multiple awards for the outstanding score, including an Academy Award, which put him a ‘T’ short of being an EGOT – a select group of people who have won at least an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony award.
Song Title: Up With End Credits – 2009 Genre: Soundtrack Artist: Orchestra Composer: Michael Giacchino Album: Up (Original Soundtrack)
292 TUESDAY 14 APRIL 2015
We Go Together – Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta – Top 10 Contender
I’m a child from the 1970s, which has been more than evident this week.
Although the golden age of movie musicals was in the 1940s and 1950s, I consider “Grease” one of the best musicals ever made. It is a movie that will never get old. It is also a film that has joined that Parthenon where only movies like “The Wizard Of Oz” and “The Sound Of Music” belong. The film has earned a new set of followers for almost four decades every year.
We Go Together, in particular, is one of my favourite musical sequences in any movie, not shot on a soundstage.
Although I love movie musicals, I can’t stand the ones shot outdoors. I only buy the ‘musical logic’ if the numbers are presented in a fabricated environment inside a gigantic soundstage. However, the flawless combination of elements in this musical number makes me see beyond the realistic look of the scene, and I buy into it. I believe the cast nailed the number, and the dancers beautifully executed the stunning choreography. The camera movement is fluid, and the editing is unobtrusive. We Go Together’s effervescence and joy, being the movie’s finale and all, sends its spectators away with an unequivocal feeling that there are such things as happy endings.
Song Title: We Go Together – 1971 Genre: Musical Artist: Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta Composer: Jim Jacobs, Warren Casey Lyrics: Jim Jacobs, Warren Casey Album: Grease Soundtrack
Favourite Lyrics: Rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong / Shoobop sha wadda wadda yippity boom de boom / Chang chang changitty chang shoobop / Dip da dip da dip doowop da doobee doo / Boogedy boogedy boogedy boogedy shooby doowop shebop / Sha na na na na na na na yippity dip de doom
293 WEDNESDAY 15 APRIL 2015
What Kind of Fool Am I – Regine Velasquez – Top 10 Contender – 9th Place Finish
Okay, I give up. This is the third time this song appears on the list, so I’ve moved it into my Top 10 Contender List.
When I included the song during (Week 04-22/07) and (Week 13-20/09), I mentioned I liked What Kind of Fool Am I a lot for no reason. Perhaps it was an excellent belting song for a man. I also said the Catch-22 nature of the song, you’re a fool if you don’t fall in love; then again, you’re a fool if you do. Damn if you do, damn if you don’t.
I often wonder if I should consider why I like this song so much, but I stop myself from going down that route. If I have decided not to actively pursue a relationship – at least for now, and as much as I often miss being in a relationship, I shouldn’t allow a song’s message to question my decisions. Sure, songs have been an essential companion and, at times, a source of inspiration and strength throughout my life, but I have to draw the line at some point. As lovely as any song can be, I can’t allow it to take me and keep me hostage in its daze; that is a perilous path. That would mainly be checking out from reality, and as I learned in my thirties, that’s not a good thing to do.
Song Title: What Kind of Fool Am I – 1962 Genre: Musical Artist: Regine Velasquez Composers: Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newley Lyricists: Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newley Album: What Kind of Fool Am I – Single
Favourite Lyrics: Why can’t I fall in love / Till I don’t give a damn / And maybe then I’ll know what kind of fool I am.
294 THURSDAY 16 APRIL 2015
Whenever You’re Away From Me – Gene Kelly & Olivia Newton-John – Top 10 Contender
Let’s finish this week, mainly dedicated to the 1970s, with this song from the 1980’s flop “Xanadu”, perhaps the worst movie ever made containing a stellar soundtrack. I’m just not saying that. The soundtrack was critically praised and became double platinum in Canada and the USA.
Some may not know this, but in this movie, Gene Kelly played Danny McGuire for the second time. He first played it in one of my favourite movie musicals, “Cover Girl”, in 1944, along with Rita Hayworth and Phil Silvers.
Whenever You’re Away From Me is particularly poignant as it was Gene Kelly’s last dance in a movie. Here it was, a man who for almost 40 years had been the prime star of the American movie musical having one final dance on celluloid with the ever-so-charming Olivia Newton-John. I can see him dancing with his former partners in every movement and step, like Judy Garland, Cyd Charise and Debbie Reynolds, among many others. That scene has so much history; it is an adorable moment. I often wonder what it must be for Olivia Newton-John to know she was Gene Kelly’s last dancing partner on film.
Song Title: Whenever You’re Away from Me – 1980 Genre: Soundtrack Artist: Gene Kelly & Olivia Newton-John Composers: John Farrar Lyricists John Farrar Album: Xanadu
Favourite Lyrics: I only have to close my eyes dear / And suddenly I’m where you are / You better never stray / Cos I’ll never be far away