Saturday, June 10, 2017

Birthday Girl: Fresh as the Morning

"Hey Siri," says I, "Play some Judy Garland music." And she does.

And lo these several hours later, she still is, and I'm still here, listening, wondering what it must be like to be able to make these sounds, create this art - and still, always, have it be never enough.

The world was a different place, 95 years ago, when she was born.  Even in the 47 of those 95 years that she was around, she saw enormous changes: the rise and fall of the Hollywood studios closest to home to her, perhaps, but a great deal more. It's some kind of testimony to the essential truth of her art that today she sounds as fresh, as sophisticated, as elegant, and as earthy as she did that night on television in 1964. She ranks with a very, very small number of singers who, since the dawn of the ability to preserve the voice indefinitely, looks truly to last. Along with the likes of Callas, Piaf, Um Kulthom, and a few coevals, she'll be singing as long as people care to listen to what seems to me as close as the human voice can be to perfection

Over on the FaceBook, a friend decried this morning the phenomenon of seeing Garland only through her lows: what he calls "Poor Judy" syndrome. I passionately agree.  She was a complicated lady, no doubt of that, but I always remember what a very great Person of the Theatre once said to me, when her name came up. "What people forget," he said thoughtfully, "is that a lot of the time she had an enormous amount of fun." And however it all played out, that's what I choose to think of, on this her 95th birthday. A joy forever, indeed, and almost never, ever the same.


  1. When I was young and gay I didn't think much of her. Part of that was the old queens who'd go on and on about her put me off. As I got older I grew to appreciate her many talents. That she did it all by 47 is remarkable.

  2. I used to watch her 1963-64 variety show on a digital channel some time back. Or maybe I should say 1963 variety show and 1964 concert show as it changed formats halfway through. Whatever the format she was great in it, and she looked healthy. But even on the later talk show appearances where she often didn't look very healthy, she was still, in my view, great. her talent and basic charisma always shone through.