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Bright Week           Thursday, April 19 2001

More decadence

After finishing yesterday's entry an old song, Suddenly There's A Valley, came into my mind and I decided to check it out. It's older than almost all the selections on my play list and may not stay permanently. But I think of it just about every time I drive over mountains and get a first glimpse of a beautiful valley, so it might be a keeper.

I didn't remember who recorded the most popular version. In the early '50's it was common for top recording stars to compete with the same songs on the market simultaneously. As a rule, I want "the" version that I remember, but I don't recall this song well enough to be sure. (The Fleetwoods, one of my favorite groups, has an excellent rendition of one of my four favorite songs, Tragedy, and I have kept in on my play list, but it's not Thomas Wayne's version...his is "the" real version in my memory. And I believe this is the only instance of having two versions of the same song on my play list.)

Napster conveyed files of Suddenly There's A Valley by perhaps a half dozen performers. The males I could eliminate immediately, as I did remember the version I knew was by a woman. One frequently found file was by Jo Stafford. She's the artist behind one of the all-time greats (I'll Be Seeing You), so I downloaded it. It didn't quite sound right. In fact, it sounded decadent, as though in illustration of yesterday's entry.

There was also a file by Gogi Grant, whose only famous hit (to my knowing at least), was The Wayward Wind. I downloaded her version. Much better.

What's the difference? It's hard to pin, and I urge you to compare them yourself if you're interested in this topic of decadent music. But maybe the difference is that Gogi's rendition sounds like she believes in what she's saying (her sound and delivery are reminiscent of Kate Smith), Jo's rendition sounds like she'd like to believe it but knows better. She sounds skeptical. Skepticality, cynicism, edgy doubt, are marks, I believe, of decadent music. Maybe decadent religion, too, as an aside. One-time California Bishop of the Episcopal Church, James Pike, said he could recite the creed only the way he might chant an Indian incantation, a ritual for ritual's sake. I wouldn't buy his single, much less CD. There's about the same conviction in Jo Stafford's rendition.

Again, your mileage may vary. There is a market for Bishop Pike's kind of doubt-affirming religion. I've admitted I even like the honest skepticism of the disco-era hit, Tainted Love. Maybe Stafford's approach fills your need...I couldn't argue with that.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Real signs

On a plumber's truck: "We repair what your husband fixed."

On the trucks of a local plumbing company in Pennsylvania: "Don't sleep with a drip. Call your plumber."

Pizza shop slogan: "7 days without pizza makes one weak."

At a tire shop in Milwaukee: "Invite us to your next blowout."

Door of a plastic surgeon's office: "Hello. Can we pick your nose?"

On an electrician's truck: "Let us remove your shorts."

In a nonsmoking area: "If we see smoke, we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action."

On a maternity room door: "Push. Push. Push."

At an optometrist's office: "If you don't see what you want, you've come to the right place."

On a taxidermist's window: "We really know our stuff."

Sent by Mike Harrison

Hope, Love, Faith

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.

— T.S. Eliot, "East Coker"

Sent by Rdr. Andrew
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