One of the key messages of driver safety is not to drive tired. When you are fatigued and at the wheel you are prone to all sorts of distraction that could have a really disastrous outcome for yourself and for others. It wasn’t until this afternoon, however, that I learned that risks apply, even when your vehicle is stationary. I had to drive to the nearby ‘city’ this afternoon, but I was so wrecked, so I rather sensibly (or so I thought) had a sleep before I went. “Well done”, I thought to myself. “you will be fresh for the journey.” Really I was just a little soporific even when I woke up and absent-mindedly I put my iPod down on top of the cup holder, then flipped the cupholder lid up. Down slid my ipod, into some netherworld of between immovable bits of plastic. And I hadn’t even left the driveway yet.
So what’s the big deal? Well, no big deal, but come on, my iPod, and therefore my blissfully portable collection of tunes is now buried alive in my Mazda’s interior. This is not tragic, but it is frustrating and bothersome. There is the long term problem of how to retrieve it, but there was a more pressing problem. What was I going to listen to while driving to Wagga. I’ve discussed previously how boring that stretch of the Sturt Highway is and my usual cure for this is to listen to musicals. (Yes, I know.) But they’re catchy and have plot. So its like listening to an audio book you can sing to. But would I be able to rely on the musical strategy sans iPod, and the extensive collection it contains?
Ethel Merman in Annie Get Your Gun. I simply wasn’t dressed for the part
I tried my emergency CD collection. All I had was Annie Get Your Gun, the original cast recording with Ethel Merman. I love it and hate it all at once. It’s so….exactly what it should be given when it was written. I shouldn’t be too critical though, I obviously do enjoy it, or I wouldn’t keep it in my car for such emergency situations. And besides, you can learn many great life lessons from it such as:
- you can’t get a man with a gun
- a man may be hot, but he’s not when he’s shot
- men don’t buy pyjamas for pistol packing mammas.
- anything you can do, I can do better. (this last one I have taken particularly to heart)
On the way over I had to listen to Annie Get Your Gun twice, so I was starting to get desperate for the way back. I would try my emergency iPhone playlist. Only its mostly study music and music I can work to. So no plot to speak of, however I did find one single, solitary show. Pal Joey by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. The recording I have is from the 80s and features Denis Lawson (a supremely attractive man and ever perfect in everything he does, especially the BBC adaptation of Bleak House) and Sian Phillips (brilliant, she pops up in everything -best of all I, Claudius – and awesomely used to be married to a) Peter O’Toole and b) the guy that plays Ethan Rayne in Buffy).
I rest my case
I don’t know about Pal Joey, there are some catchy songs. Do it The Hard Way (and it’s easy sailing) is a worthy personal mantra and that counts for a lot, but for the most part I find it frustrating when all the words just rhyme with themselves. Sondheim just knocks your patience for that shit right out of you.
That said, it too has some excellent redeeming features:
- the line “English people don’t say clerk they say clark / anyone who says clark is a jark”
- Bewtiched, Bothered and Bewildered. OH MY GOD – that song, as sung by character Vera Simpson – show stopper. And maybe a little bit unexpected given its raw honesty, exploring the sexuality of a character type not frequently allowed to have sexual thoughts (at least in 1940 when the show was written) – the middle aged woman. Vera Simpson knew what she was doing a long time before Courteney whoever it was was polluting our screens in Cougar Town. Unexpected perhaps, because it written and performed on stage smack bang in the middle of the same era when films made in the same country had the pants edited out of them under the Hays Code. God forbid there be anything remotely indecorous in entertainment. But the stage is always more open to these things.
Anyhoo, what a lot of ramble about really not that much.
Here is (the eternally gorgeous, but frequently badly photographed) Stockard Channing singing Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered – its not a great recording but her voice is husky and perfect (like Sian Phillips) and it does preserve the lyrics of the stage show, rather than the somewhat sanitised version that is an excellent stand alone, non plot-based song.
That said, if you do want to see a fabulous other version, then Rufus Wainwright is the way to go. No question.
One thing I will say for both Annie Get Your Gun and Pal Joey is that they are both biographical musicals, and despite some reservations about each of them, I would take them any day over pop music biographies (except the Boy From Oz, which I love, because I love Peter Allen) and their shitty, made to fit plot around a loose selection of songs that are apparently representative. Dear god people, you want to write a musical? write some songs. /end rant.