At the the Stratford Festival gift shop I picked up this cd of Jane Froman that features two of her early 50’s lps. With A Song In My Heart, and the Broadway cast recording of Pal Joey. Like many singers their lives are more interesting than their song choices or even vocal ability. I’ve seen the film Pal Joey & was mystified by the casting – Kim Kovak? But some of the songs have become jazz classics. The price was right too & I wanted to add something by this legendary singer.
With a Song is the film about Froman’s life with Susan Hayward as Jane. Hayward specialized in tormented yet glamorous women – the greater the suffering the great the challenge – Jane’s life was classic emotional soap opera stuff. She recorded these songs for the film & even assisted Hayward in lip-syncing them. A nice voice & classic material: i.e. Embraceable You. Safe stuff & without the drama of her life nothing memorable.
On the shelf beside Jane is the much more challenging Diamanda Galas. The Sporting Life goes back to 1994. She’s working with John Paul Jones here & as a result the songs are more structured. She has one of those 1000 octave voices that soars the whole range in a single swoop. The music is powerful, the lyrics are political, mystical & emotionally charged. She uses her voice as an instrument words become secondary and a few songs are in a language only birds understand.
Red’s Real Name
‘What’s my name? My real name?’
‘Whatever do you mean Red.’ Red’s mom fitted another jar of jam in the basket and lifted it by the handle. ‘Well that doesn’t seem to be too heavy.’
‘You know what I mean Mom. You are Mabel Axworthy. Daddy is Jack Axworthy but I’m Little Red Riding Hood, L.R.R Hood. If your name was Mabel Hood this might make sense, but it isn’t.’
‘Now, now Red don’t bother your head with such fantasies.’
‘Or is Hood my real Daddy’s last name? Is that it.’
‘Red, please. Why do we have to go over this time after time. Ever since your Granny knit this cute cunning sweet warm red riding hood and cloak for you you’ve been known as Little Red Riding Hood. Simple as that.’
‘Yes,’ Red stomped her foot on the dusty cottage floor. ‘You’ve told me that story time after time. But I’ve never even ridden anything. Didn’t I have a name before that? Wee poopy pants?’
‘You’ll have to ask your father. I really don’t remember what we called you before that.’
‘Mom! Really. I know that just isn’t so. I had some name. I must have. Or did you just find me in the woods?’
‘Yes that’s it honey. We found you in the shadow under a cabbage.’
‘No no no.’ Red put her hands over her ears. ‘Not the stork story again.’
Mom tucked a dish cloth over the top of the basket. ‘This is ready for you. Maybe your grandma remembers your name? I’m sure she will, she never forgets anything. Never.’
Red picked up the basket. ‘Whew this is pretty heavy Mom.’
‘No more than usual.’
Red peeked under the cover. The smells of jam and fresh bread made her mouth water.
‘Maybe I should have a little something to eat before I go.’
‘You’ve just had a big breakfast girl. No. Get going if you want to get back here before nightfall.’
‘That’s another thing. What’s this big fuss about nightfall.’
‘Ohh you’re too young to worry about that.’
‘Yeah thanks. Anything else you can not tell me? No name, be home before dark – all these things and not even a hint as to what they might mean.’
‘Trust us.’ Mom kissed Red on the forehead as she pulled the ties of the riding cloak tight. ‘Keep warm and run along.’
HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam
June 8-9 – Capturing Fire 2018 – Washington D.C. (flight & hotel already booked) capfireslam.org