Near 500 words: The Singer

Clara wakes up happy. I know this is not a good way to start a story. I’m supposed to have the main character in distress or at least thinking about distress. But the thing is. Clara is happy.

She is so happy she wants to sing it to the world. And sing it to the world she is going to do. She has a recording contract.

Her gray eyes and her smile show just how happy she is. She had been with her manager all day the previous day choosing songs to take to her producer.

Clara is tired. She has gotten only a little sleep. Her excitement kept her awake most of the night. Her day has finally arrived and she is going to sing for the world.

It is early when she wakes.

Finally, you’re getting somewhere with the story. Clara is going to have an accident on the way to the studio, you’re saying.

Not true. Not true. Nothing is going to happen on the way to the studio. She is going to arrive and sing like the nightingale she was in a former life.

Once she is in the studio, her producer is not going to like the songs she has chosen.

Oh, no. He will like them just fine. You see, he’s in love with Clara. He’s in love with her voice. And he’s in love with her songs. In his mind, her songs are wonderful. They are about the life of her grandmother. She came to Israel when she was a teenager to escape the Holocaust. And escape she did. She came and worked on a kibbutz. The album will end with her grandmother’s garden. It will start off sad and end very happy.

It’s the story of Dorothy escaping to Oz and falling in love with Oz. No returning to Kansas for Dorothy. Dorothy is just fine with Oz and so is Toto. She loves Oz so much that she wants Auntie Em and her uncle to come and live with her. But it’s too late. The tornado took them and the government repossessed the farm. It wasn’t that good of afarm anyway.

The Wizard may have been a disappointment in Oz but everything is just hunky dory since Dorothy melted that witch. The munckins sang hip-hip-hooray. The citizens of Oz sang hip-hip-hooray. Even the horse of a different color sang hip-hip-hooray.

It was then that Dorothy met her Prince Charming. He was a shoe salesman. It’s amazing how many times these Cinderella stories revolve around feet.

After the war, Clara’s grandmother returned to Germany. She went to Auschwitz where her parents and her brother had died. Kansas was not the place she had loved as a young girl. So she returned to Israel and met her Prince Charming. Five kids they had. One of them was Clara’s mother. Her grandfather found in the Israel War of Independence. He fought against Nassar and his allies. While Clara’s grandmother made a home for her husband and her children.

She also made the most wonderful garden. And Clara is going to sing about that garden. That is the final song, “The Garden”. It begins with the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It continues with the garden that was the Alhambra. And it ends with memories of Monet’s Garden, all metaphors for Clara’s grandmother’s garden. The last line of the last song, “Dorothy loved the Gardens of Oz.”

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Song is George Harrison’s beautiful “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”:

Cirque du soleil’s interpretation.

And here’s Carlos Santana’s lovely rendition:

When someone asks me “Who is your favorite Beatle”, I tell them the Beatles are my favorite Beatle. But deep down I know that is not true. It’s George I saw in concert. It’s George whose albums I bought. It’s George I listened to in The Traveling Wilburys with his buds, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne.

Sure, I listen to John when I want to let my intellectual and political side out. I listen to Paul if I go dancing. I listen to Ringo just for the fun of it. But it’s George that most appeals to me. Especially the post-Beatles George. Among my DVDs, I have the “Concert for George”, performed one year after George’s death by many of his friends including his best bud, Eric Clapton.

“While my Guitar Gently Weeps” is among my all-time Beatles favs. It tops the list that includes “Norwegian Wood”, “Help”, “Eleanor Rigby”, “You’re Gonna Lose that Girl”, “Nowhere Man”, “Michelle”, “Lady Madonna”, “Girl”, “Things We Said Today”, “I Feel Fine”, “Get Back”, “The Ballad of John and Yoko”, “A Day in the Life”, “She’s Leaving Home” and “Fool on the Hill”.

 

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: Tough Guy Makes Good

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is

Back in the Very Old School days, there was a stock character. He was the Tough Guy. Some of the biggest names in Hollywood played that role. But there were few actors who could pull off the Jinxed Tough Guy the way Frank Sinatra could. From his performance in “From Here to Eternity” to “Young at Heart” to “Pal Joey”, Sinatra made us feel for this tough guy who could break your heart.

Sure, there were Humphrey Bogart and Jimmy Cagney, Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. But it was Sinatra who gave us the underside of the tough-guyness. He taught us not to envy those guys, but feel compassion for them.

Few movies capture the vulnerability and the sensitivity of this jinxed character than “Young at Heart”. From the moment that Sinatra shows up at Doris Day’s front door, there is doom and gloom written all over him. There’s no way this guy is good for an All-American girl like Doris. No way you’d let your daughter marry him, much less date him. Sinatra’s Barney Sloan steps through that door and casts his dark shadow over Doris’ sweetness and light for the rest of the movie.

There is one scene that gives the viewer the essence of Frank Sinatra. He is at the piano in a bar, singing “One for my baby”. This is a singer who gives us his loneliness and his vulnerability all in less than three minutes.

When I first saw this scene, I was hooked on Sinatra, and this is the Sinatra I continue to listen to. Nobody has ever given me a definition of loneliness the way Sinatra did in this one scene. In those few minutes, Sinatra can just breaks your heart.

What is the hardest thing about being alone?