Wednesday, January 8, 2014

There's No Denying Who She Is

And today the Girl from Tiger Bay is an ageless 77.

Dame Shirley is the kind of performer who only gets more treasurable as the years pass.  Her brand of stardom - outsized, wide-eyed, based on equal parts major talent and massive charisma - seemed for a while a little much, her telegraphed emotion and stentorian voice overshadowing her extraordinary gifts as a performer and (still too little remarked upon) interpreter.  Who else could sing everything from James Bond's "Goldfinger" to Janis Ian's "Jesse"?  Not to mention her remarkable run, in recent years, of collaborations with pop songwriters and groups.

Of those, her "History Repeating" with the Propellerheads probably remains my favorite, but this song - created for her by Manic Street Preachers - certainly fits her like a glove, letting her sing her own story even as she shows off a set of pipes almost untouched by all the decades that have taken her so far indeed from Tiger Bay.

So here's to her, big spenders, living her life her way.  Like diamonds, she's forever.


  1. She's also hilarious. A friend who used to perform alongside her 'back in the day', invited me to dinner with her one night. She had been very keen on him back then, and he was terrified of her. His fear was that he'd get drunk (out of nervousness), so I was the designated driver. I've never had a funnier night - she has a filthy mouth, and takes as good as she gives. Some years later, I was backstage at a performance of hers, and she walked by. Stopping in her tracks, she arched an eyebrow and said "I know you...", before sweeping on in (I swear) a cloud of feathers and sequins... Fabulous.

    1. I used to live in Cardiff, and I knew the area where she was brought up (sadly now all shiny and redeveloped). I can guarantee that anyone brought up in the then slums of Tiger Bay (Butetown) will always retain the "common touch" and the filthy mouth, no matter where they end up.

      I would love to meet Dame Shirley, and to go drinking with her! In sequins and feathers, of course. Jx