Sunday, June 6, 2010

Anita Bryant

Anita Bryant There is Wagner. He was Hitler's favourite composer, and they played his music in the death camps. It was not random. Wagner was an avowed anti-Semite, and not a very nice person overall.

Here's the problem though: his music is magnificent. I had an album once upon a time (in fact I'm pretty sure I still have it somewhere) of Georg Solti playing overtures and orchestral interludes from Wagner's operas, and it was breathtaking. I borrowed once a copy of one his operas, The Flying Dutchman I believe, and I sat through it, libretto in hand, and I enjoyed every minute, bombastic as it was.

Wagner is perhaps the most grotesque example, but one thinks also of Dostoevsky, of other artists who created great and beautiful art but were the worst of human beings. It's even rumoured that Charles Manson wrote some of the songs credited to Dennis Wilson.

Now let's scale this down a bit. Anita Bryant is no Richard Wagner, but one thing she's most known for, after the orange juice and Miss Oklahoma, is gay bashing. So we need to separate, when we listen to Ms. Bryant, the voice from the person. And I suppose it's legitimate, because why should I be deprived of beauty just because the integrity of its creator is questionable. I leave the question open for debate.

The other question here, of course, is how beautiful was Anita Bryant’s voice anyway. That debate is also open.

The album is Anita Bryant's Greatest Hits, which seems to have been released in 1963, and which inexplicably left off Wonderland By Night. I have it though; no halfwit album compiler can stop me from getting all the top 40 hits. Apart from 3 of her 4 top 40 hits, the album pays no attention to chart singles, so her 7 non-top 40 hits are missing. It's vinyl, this album, no fancy CD or MP3 or DVD or anything. I remembering seeing, but not buying, it, at A Book And Record Place, so named undoubtedly to be first in the Yellow Pages. More later...

Anita Bryant:

Paper Roses – Your flowers were real, but your love was fake, laments our heroine, in a treatise that examines the role flowers play in a relationship. Then there’s the whole idea of truth, lies, pretending, honesty. Must mostly it’s about flowers. Her biggest hit, from the summer of 1960. Marie Osmond had a hit with this almost 15 years later.
The Wedding – A Fantasy, not about love or romance or even sex, just about the wedding itself. A hit in 1965 for Julie Rogers.
Step By Step – The deconstruction of a relationship. A bit country.
Till There Was You – Unabashed romantic sentiment from The Music Man. Her first hit, in the summer of 1959. Covered more famously by The Beatles on their second LP.
I’m Not A Child Anymore – A song about growing up. Not too deep.
Free – Not the Chicago song. A song about the end of a relationship.
In My Little Corner Of The World – On the surface it’s just another love song, the idea, though, is this: I have my space, you’re welcome to join me in it. Like George Jones sang: I’ll Share My World With You. But Jones also sang Walk Through This World With Me, and that seems to be more about what all that love stuff is about. This was a hit in the fall of 1960.
Sleepin’ At The Foot Of The Bed – A corny old country song, not what she does best. I have a version by Little Jimmy Dickens; his version makes sense.
It’s A Cold Cold Winter – Always good when you can bring the very weather into the service of a broken heart. The steel guitar doesn’t hurt either.
Pretty Lies – People pretend, they obfuscate, they prevaricate. They hide the truth to protect themselves and others. This guy, though, he lied. So there.
Hurry Home
Wonderland By Night – There are instrumental hit versions of this song by Louis Prima and by Bert Kaempfert, but this was the one with the words. A song about a one night stand, more or less, but of course nobody calls it that. From the winter of 1961.

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