Whitley and I love cabaret, especially chanteuses singing the Great American Song Book. They closed our favorite venue for this in New York City, so now we’re searching out new places to hear those wonderful old songs.
We went to Disney Hall to hear the great singer Barbara Cook last night, but first we went to lunch with a friend who is about to embark on the adventure of pairing up with a widower she’s met who lives across the country. Two grown children who live with him are part of this package, and while she gets along with them well, it will be an emotionally fraught task to replace their mother.
Men show their courage by fighting wars and fires, and doing other glorious deeds, while women are mostly inspired to do courageous acts by love, which is why it was so emotionally poignant to listen to Barbara Cook sing afterwards.
Cook just celebrated her 85th birthday (she told us) and she doesn’t sing standing up anymore, she sings sitting down (in a chair in front of the piano). But that doesn’t stop her, or even slow her down and her voice is as good as it ever was.
One of my favorite "torch singers" is someone whose voice was NEVER very good, even when she was in her prime: Billie Holliday. Her singing is instantly recognizable, because she almost never hits a note–she’s either a little sharp or a little flat. Yet her renditions of the Great American Songbook are some of the greatest ever recorded.
OK, what lessons to draw from all this music? It’s not just the lyrics that inspire us, it’s the people singing them.
In one case, the message might be: Don’t give up–don’t let age or infirmity stop you or even slow you down, if possible.
In another case, it could be this: Just because you don’t have the natural ability to do something, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try your darndest to do it. For instance, I run a successful website, despite the fact that I’m an ignoramus when it comes to computers.
Maybe we’re ALL "singing sitting down," but we’re doing our best to live and love anyway.