Friday, April 25, 2008

How Do You Keep The Music Playing?

Last night I saw a singer who shall remain nameless at a New York venue. Said singer gave a strong performance, backed by an admirable band, of reworked classics from various genres.

Included in the offerings was a song by Michel Legrand, with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, that was so execrable that it was painful. Mostly, that was because of the lyrics, which were horrifyingly trite, and full of imagery that just didn't work. (I was so appalled that I have now repressed any specific memory, but something about rainbows and butterflies comes to mind.)

The Bergmans have won Oscars for "The Windmills of Your Mind" and "The Way We Were," and wrote the song that gives this post its title as well as one of my favorite Sinatra tunes, "Nice 'N' Easy." They have a knack for the reassuringly familiar and an unfortunate penchant for the overblown. And they are clearly excellent collaborators who can create earworms at will, who have worked together (and stayed married!) for more than 50 years, and who in effect write poetry for a living.

But that song? The singer made an awful choice that made me reconsider the entire performance.

On the other hand, the Bergmans wrote "The Rest of Your Life," which, as sung by Dusty Springfield, is part of one of my favorite commercials of recent years. It brings a tear to my eye every single time I see it (and I use the word "single" advisedly). Which, since the point of the spot is to engender unbearable longing, means it's doing its job:

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