31 December 2009

Doo Wop Dialog[ue]: 17

(42/M/London, England)


In response to your main posting the words of Thomas Hardy seem right (hey, I'm an English teacher, people - these things are forced upon me!):

Childlike, I danced in a dream;
Blessings emblazoned that day;
Everything glowed with a gleam -
But we were looking away!

(...or as Ral Donner, following in Hardy's footsteps, put it, You don't know what you got...)

Your description of the dances and afterwards is amazing - really powerfully evocative. I went to a Jesuit-run school in Glasgow and at the dance, c.1975, get this: the hired deejay was told not to play any slow tracks - smooching or "snogging" not allowed – there was even suspicion (and I’m not talking Terry Stafford) if you were in a darkened corner.

Maybe this explains my love of ballads: a past I never had but wanted to have. How lucky you are to be able to link the music and experience so intimately - the brasher sounds of early 70s disco was often the backdrop to my teenage romance, though I do recall Eddie Holman’s Hey There Lonely Girl the night, thrust into each other's arms by friends who had seen our timidity at a party, this school dance girl and I first kissed. (OK, not doowop but the sensibility is the same. And now, 25 years later, I'm compiling a doowop tape for the same girl, having recently got back in touch ...) But doowop for me has often been a solitary pleasure and that's why I really value the opportunity to share thoughts in this forum.


Eddie Holman's
website, including a video of his singing Lonely Girl in front of a hugely appreciative audience. He has a new gospel album entitled Love Story, and judging from the samples his remarkable voice is as good as ever. The photo, taken from that site, is captioned: "Eddie at Virtue Recording Studios, Philadelphia, PA. where This Can't Be True, Hey There Lonely Girl and many more of his legendary songs were recorded."

There are lots of links to Thomas Hardy poems on the net; here's one which provides quite a wide selection including The Self-Unseeing. Along with Tennessee Williams' plays, discovering Hardy's poetry was my major thrill at university. You could even argue that he was a kind of doo wop lyricist before his time, as an idealised, unattainable woman often features in his verse, as elusive as the being celebrated in The Wind by the Diablos or - a record I've been listening to a lot lately - the Kool Gents' When I Call On You.

And just as both of those great records (I think) hint at the spectral nature of the woman, the object of Hardy's best poetry is, indeed, unattainable by virtue of being dead; to cut a long story short, the death of his first wife, whom he had neglected, sparked a remorse-fuelled run of poems about her (Poems of 1912-1913), widely regarded as being among his very best. I'd recommend them all, but try The Voice.

I never finished that doo wop tape. It may never even have progressed beyond a few songs scribbled on a piece of paper.

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