Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lady Sings the [Christmas] Blues

I had long assumed that when it came to wrenchingly depressing holiday moments, nothing else was a patch on Judy singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" in Meet Me in St. Louis.  As you can see, I was wrong. 

I can't help but think that this was not exactly what the producers of Julie Andrews's 1973 Christmas special had in mind when they settled on Miss Peggy Lee as a guest star, and I can only imagine what a befuddled national-television audience made of it.  If you only listen to the audio, it's a lovely thing; watch it, though, and it becomes a kind of psychodrama that's almost unsettling in its intensity.  Enjoy, if that's quite the right word (it's not).  We'll have to poke around for something cheerier for our next holiday music update...


  1. This was actually an outtake from "Airport" -- so glad they cut it. Seriously, the lip gloss/liner alone makes it excruciating.

  2. She is, at this point, full-flower into her crazy, groovy, existential "Is That All There Is" phase.

    Here's what I thought while watching this: 20 years before the phrase and the fact of 'singer/songwriter' came along to scare the bejesus out of the Monkees, Archies and Paul Revere and The Raiders of the world, Peggy was a 'singer/songwriter'.

    I don't doubt that she was a little annoyed with all this hullabaloo about these brilliant kids that were seemingly inventing something that she had done all along. Add to this the Joni Mitchell song "Both Sides Now" which, in the six years since it had been written, had been covered by everyone in the world from Neil Diamond and Anne Murray, to Der Bingle, Ol' Blue Eyes and Leonard Nimoy!

    So, I'm sure when Miss Peggy Lee sat down to write the lovely, tragic wrap-around verse (if, in fact, it was she) she said to herself something like, "Clouds, they want clouds. Everybody wants fucking clouds! Well, I'll show 'em clouds!"

    Yes, I thought all that while watching this clip. Ho, Ho, Ho.

  3. I actually think it's quite beautiful.

  4. That would have been genius casting, although fraught. Peg was a complicated woman...

  5. the quality of the video has that wee spiral curl on her temple (and i'm not even sure if it was a wee spiral curl!) looking like some medieval mechanical device designed to hold her face up higher than the plane she glides in.

    i too kind of liked it. i enjoyed going on those strange journeys with peggy.

  6. I'm so grateful, Norma, that you'e pointed out that it's a curl. I had noticed it, but decided it was wise not to consider it too deeply (thinking that way madness lies, especially remembering the lengths that Dietrich and others went with creative lifting, it seemed all too likely to be hooks or worse). A curl it is.

    And Peggy, of course, is perfect, albeit, as the career went on, in an ever more specifically individual sort of way.