Happy 100th Birthday to Dame Vera Lynn

Yesterday we regretted the loss of Chuck Berry, whom so many of us loved and enjoyed. Today is a happier occasion for today is the 100th birthday of Dame Vera Lynn, DBE, OStJ, CH, honorary citizen of Nashville Tennessee, holder of the British War medal, and the Burma Star. She is known worldwide as the British Forces Sweetheart. Quite a career for a girl from East Ham, Essex.

And besides, all here know of my weakness for British redheads, so any excuse to feature one is welcome.

Her first recording was Up the Wooden Hill to Bedfordshire, recorded on Crown Records in 1936.

 

Her greatest fame came during the Second World War when she became the Force’s Sweetheart with songs such as these

And this

This

And tonight her image will b projected on those very same white cliffs, by the country she served so well.

This is interesting

But it wasn’t all about loneliness either, especially before the war got so grim, the humour showed itself.

Eventually, it was over

But she kept right on singing, this was the very first #1 on the American charts by a British artist.

And still she goes on, Decca released a new album,  Vera Lynn 100, just three days ago. Here is the trailer

And yes, amazon.co.uk says they will send it out to us Yanks, as well, if we want.

So, how do we end this glorious retrospective? There is only one possible way, in my mind.

And it will truly always be a:

Happy Birthday, Dame Vera!

 

 

 

No Particular Place to Go

I’d guess that most of you heard the news yesterday, Chuch Berry died, at 90. Well there’s not really too much to say about the ‘Father of Rock and Roll’, is there? Like almost everybody my age, I loved his music, there’s a youthful, happy quality about it, and something of that American ‘Here, hold my beer’ exuberance, as well. I suspect it says something about the man that he still lived in St. Louis, rather than California. But in any case, like with any great performer, the music is the thing. Here’s some of it.

 

And this, of course. You didn’t think I’d leave that one out, did you?

What else can you say when a legend leaves? I loved his pure Rock and Roll, and how easy he always seemed with himself. He was a major influence on all those great rock bands we all knew, but in many ways, the original is still the best.

Rest in Peace.

Making American Football Great Again

3ce2698900000578-4194186-the_end_she_then_caught_a_shiny_football_as_she_jumped_off_the_s-a-15_1486369657874I have a confession to make, I didn’t bother watching the Super Bowl, yesterday. In fact, I haven’t watched a pro game all year. I’m not exactly boycotting the NFL although it does tend to offend me. I just don’t care much anymore, maybe I’ve outgrown it. I don’t really know, likely because I haven’t thought about it much. My first love was always the college game (especially the Big 10) anyway. Given Purdue’s performance the last few years, I haven’t watched much of that either.

But it seems that the Patriots started slow and make one heck of a comeback yesterday, as I read Mary Katharine Ham’s article in The Federalist this morning, I rather wished I had. Both for the game, which went into OT and for Lady Gaga’s halftime show. Here’s a bit

Many Americans were bracing themselves for the halftime show of the Super Bowl Sunday. Lady Gaga, a vocal Hillary Clinton supporter and left-leaning activist, had a huge stage 13 minutes. Recent precedent suggested such a performance could not take place without some kind of obvious anti-Trump political statement. Some boycotted in anticipation.

Those like myself, who like sports to be an oasis from politics, were skeptical but hoped for the best. She’s a great performer with a great voice. She’s also been inventive in her career, if not subtle, so a run-of-the-mill Trump denunciation would have felt pretty tired. It would have won her plenty of the usual social media plaudits, but she went a different route. I underestimated her.

Gaga opened her performance atop the stadium, clad in iridescent armor, singing “God Bless America” and “This Land is Your Land” against a back drop of the American flag formed by the red, white, and blue head lamps of 300 synchronized drones.

She transitioned to the Pledge of Allegiance, pointing at the sky for “under God” and adding special emphasis to “for all.” Some, seemingly looking for offense, accused Gaga of omitting “under God,” but she did not.

Gaga then tore through a medley of her greatest hits, even teasing the Houston audience by doing a verse of her Beyoncé collaboration “Telephone” but without an appearance by the hometown diva. Power move. She sang a cappella, she played the piano, she said hi to her parents, and she put on a hell of a show.

She hugged someone briefly during her song “Stay,” and the Internet is trying to figure out if that had any political significance. “This Land Is Your Land” was written by folk singer Woody Guthrie as a response to “God Bless America,” with critical lyrics and a chorus of “God blessed America for me,” so, the performance was not without its messages.

That sounds pretty damned good to me. Mary Katharine is right, she’s a talented lady, who works hard at her craft, she’s just not really my cup of tea, but then I’m an old fogey anyway. But it’s definitely time for America to begin to pull together again, and I like This Land is your Land as well as God Bless America. And you know, we really are all in this together, whatever we think about Hillary Clinton and/or Donald Trump, and all our other controversies. Nor do I especially mind watching a beautiful woman dance, and leap, and such. I’m old, but not that old. 🙂

She also talked a bit about the game

Down 21-3 in the first half thanks to an authoritative performance from Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and the Falcons defense, Brady looked uncharacteristically rattled at times. Down 28-3 in the third quarter, he looked uncharacteristically cornered. But the Patriots made the best of a flubbed fourth-quarter Falcons pass on third and 1, recovering and later scoring to bring the game to within 8, and a couple more bad pass play calls that took the Birds out of range of the field goal that might have put the game out of reach.

In the end, Brady’s performance wasn’t without his customary dominance and grit. But it was different. It was unexpected. Brady no doubt earned new fans—or, at the very least, grudging respect from skeptics—who will be interested in his game, no matter his politics. He won dramatically and he won graciously, though not without knocking NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell obliquely in his acceptance speech, which is something we can all get behind. He orchestrated the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history, was named MVP in the only overtime the Super Bowl has ever seen, and he accepted the giant trophy from his nemesis while acknowledging his sick mother, in the crowd to watch her son win.

via Lady Gaga And Tom Brady Made America Great Again Sunday

And that too sounds like TV worth watching. It’s been a very long year, and I for one would be very pleased if we all just quit yelling so much at each other, and got on with the game.

Now if only Purdue could finally put together a winning team

New Years Eve Sock Hop Saturday

Hey there’s a party today On your way, don’t forget to drive carefully, or Dead Man’s Curve will get you Read more of this post

O Holy Night

nativitybg22I wanted to give you something for Christmas Eve as we are thinking about the birth of our Saviour. I found I didn’t have much to say, at least that was new or interesting.

Most of what I want to remind you has been said, and better than I can, and on this blog, no less. Last year Jessica wrote on Christmas Eve and she said this:

In the Christian calendar, Christmas is of secondary importance when compared to Easter; although the former brings us the Word made Flesh, the latter brings us eternal life. As our society here in the West sees little in either of these concepts, it tends to focus upon Christmas, because it is a time of the year when merchants can move much merchandise; let there be a celebration of all the wealth we have; that is a temptation to which only a rich society can succumb.

But that first Christmas Eve was not given to the rich, the powerful and the elite; it was given to the poor, the marginalised and the ordinary. There was nothing special about Joseph or Mary in human terms. Joseph probably got a decent living from his hands, but it is unlikely that his house was anything special; and Mary, well, a young girl with child is, to any decent society, and object of love and sympathy, but nowadays someone would be telling her she was too young and should be considering her career, and pointing her to ‘Planned Parenthood’. These were simple people.

God could have chosen anyone for His purposes, but He chose these people. we cannot know why, except to know that they were obedient to Him; they did not question His will, they did not argue or suggest they knew better; in them the self-will of our first parents burnt low. Joseph did what men through countless ages have done. He earned his living by the sweat of his brow and he looked after his family. He does not seem to have made a great fuss about things, and even when he discovered that his betrothed was pregnant and he was not the father, being a righteous man, he was minded not to have her stoned, but just to set her aside; sadness rather than wrath seems to have been his reaction; and he believed what he was told in his vision. Upright, straightforward, Joseph did his duty, and that first Christmas Eve it involved making sure there was somewhere for the baby to be born where his betrothed and the child could be sheltered; the primeval task of all men.

Her post is called Silent Night, Holy Night and it is one of the best posts on the site.

Frankly I have little to add except for this, my mom’s favorite Christmas song, one of mine, and you all know how I feel about [a] Celtic Woman.

Fairy Tales for adults

[This is another one of Jessica’s, from last year. It was a song that I was not familiar with, but I fell in love with it when she presented it. And you know, this year it means even more to me. As I’ve said, I miss Jess’ presence terribly this year and if that weren’t enough, one of my nieces lost her husband a few days ago to a heart attack, out of the blue. So if you don’t mind, I’ll dedicate this to missing friends and family. Neo]

One of the songs that marks Christmas for me is ‘Fairy Tale of New York’, with the Pogues and the wonderful Kirsty MacColl; if I ever wanted to be anyone but me, it was Kirsty. I remember asking my daddy why he couldn’t marry her because she would make a good mum – he laughed and said ‘she’s already taken little one’; seemed a good idea to me – fathers, let the tiniest obstacle get in the way 🙂

It’s an odd Christmas song, but it is a powerful one, because, in part it reflects a version of the immigrant experience which fails to make it into the Hollywood version. The two characters are Irish immigrants, not too long out of the ‘awld country’ – he still says ‘happy Christmas babe’ (an American would surely say “merry Christmas”? She still uses the English vulgarity “happy Christmas my arse” rather than the American “ass”. Their dreams have soured – he’s in the drunk tank on Christmas Eve, and she hopes it is their last time. There is a sadness, the sadness that accompanies the death of any relationship. But is it dead? One of the reasons – apart from powerful lyrics and a great performance, it still works, is that like all good fiction, it doesn’t tell you what you’d like to know – it leaves loose ends and inferences you could read any way you liked.

So, when he says ‘I could have been someone’, she says cynically. ‘well so could anyone’, but his reply to her claim that he took her dreams away is heartbreaking in its vulnerability – ‘I kept them with me babe, I put them with my own, can’t make it on my own, built them round you’. What a world there is in all of that, of young love frustrated, of ambition broken by circumstances, but also of the hope that springs eternal in the human heart – and the American dream.

Isn’t that what America is really about? That vision, that idea? Has there ever been a country founded on an idea of hope? Has there ever been such a hodge-podge of immigrants all battling and hoping, some falling, some rising, but however low you fall, always with the hope of rising? Is that why so many now feel a sense of despair – as though those times are gone?

I’m only a Welsh girl living far away, and probably, like Shane MacGowan, with a vision of America shaped by the movies, but I’d like to think that, just like the couple in the song, the fairy tale has a happy ending – and, of course, if it isn’t a happy ending, it isn’t the end yet.

For Christians, we are all ‘someone’ – beloved of God, in whose image we are made, and there is, in that, a reassurance. It is no accident – I think – that it was Christians from the West who had the vision and courage to create a great nation out of the wilderness they encountered. The ‘Shining city of a hill’ was their inspiration – and remains one for many Americans – however much secularists try to replace that dream with their own fairytales.

Good music and poetry (and good lyrics are poetry) have the power to transform things and to take us places in our imagination – and here, in a few short verses, we can see something profound about the immigrant – and the American experience – encapsulated. Either that, or I just have a vivid imagination – either way – something to share with all you wonderful people here at this season.

%d bloggers like this: