Born to Run

..I NEVER listen to the radio in the car…but peak hour makes a man contemplate desperate acts. A flick through the channels tonight and I chanced upon this Bruce classic hit. I found myself driving along, and singing along, and thinking if there were any other people in their cars doing the same – and perhaps contemplating running from something…or towards something…a hope, or perhaps with a Bruce-inspired dream of a better life in a new world.

I stopped at a set of traffic lights – looked to my left and saw an Indian girl in an old, beat-up 70’s Honda singing along to Bruce’s words with a big smile on her face – at that moment she epitomized to me what this Bruce’s lyric is all about

I love this clip…OK, OK, yes it has a lot to do with the constant glimpses of Bruce-butt – Bruce had (and has) a pretty awesome look in a pair of tight Wranglers (for Bruce-butt connoisseurs I reckon there is only one main section of footage of Bruce in non-Wrangler jeans – can anyone confirm?) – but there is just so much fun and spectacle in the clip – and SO many people in the crowds – it almost seems to stand in defiance of what the song is about…

Oh, and did I mention the Bruce-butt? Oh yeah…I did!

Farewell Virginia Gibson

I was saddened to here of the death of Virginia Gibson just about a month ago, aged 88. During the Hollywood “Golden Years” of musicals she was one of those “triple-threat gals” -a trained and accomplished dancer, she was also a great character actress and could more than hold a tune to boot. But for an abundant excess of similar talents at the time, she would have been undoubtedly graced us with far more than the dozen or so movies she appeared in. I have only seen her in three movies, and she is undoubtedly remembered best from one of these, when she portrayed Liza in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Virginia Gibson (Liza), second from left next to Jane Powell (Millie)

Virginia Gibson (Liza), second from left next to Jane Powell (Millie)

The dresses for the “captivity scenes” were apparently made from real quilts that Walter Plunkett had hunted in Salvation Army stores, to add authenticity to the idea that the six brides would have arrived at the Pontipee house with no clothes apart from those they wore. When he forwarded them to the costuming department, apparently the joke was that MGM was cutting the budget – yet again. MGM saw Seven Brides for Seven Brothers as very much on the B-movie schedule, and was pouring all available funds into the Brigadoon and Rose-Marie musical productions – the A-list offers of 1954. In the end Seven Brides for Seven Brothers blitzed both of them, and even forced Brigadoon from a spot playing at the Radio City Music Hall – such was it’s instant popularity…

Here is Liza and the other girls (minus Millie who is “with child”) singing and dancing to “June Bride”. They are all so sexy in this clip – you wouldn’t think such small waists could be made any tinier using the corsetry they are in…I remember seeing an interview with Virginia where she claimed that that the corsets were no trouble to dance in, but they made it almost impossible to sit down. Enjoy, and thank you Virginia Gibson!

 

…it sure is Swell

…it sure is Swell

What a joy to hear this Rogers and Hart classic – originally from 1927. And a joy to hear (nearly all of the) entire first verse so wonderfully sung by Douglas Sills – Larry Hart’s lyric complexities were, and are, unsurpassed:

 

 

It remains an enigmatic tragedy that a man who could write:

You are so graceful-
Have you wings?
You have a face full
Of nice things.
You have no speaking voice, dear-
With ev’ry word it sings

…should die alone and so very tragically at only 48 years of age. Despite being recognized in his own time as one of popular musicals finest lyricists, biographers write of a man never comfortable nor satisfied with any aspect of his life. Short in stature, deemed unattractive with a disproportionately large head, lonely, unsuccessful in relationships, at odds with his homosexuality; he was plagued with regular bouts of deepest depression. He spent most of his life living with his mother and became a regular, and very public, alcoholic, fueled further by frequent binges. Devastated after his mother’s death in April 1943, his bouts of drinking overwhelmed him. and he died the following November of pneumonia induced by apparent exposure after a drinking spree lasting several days.

I have only ever seen one piece of autobiographical writing from Hart himself…a sad and angry piece of prose – it is all the sadder that a man that produce so many lyrics of such quality could find so little worthwhile to write of himself