31 December 2009

Doo Wop Dialog[ue]: 34

(42/M/London, England)


You excelled yourself on that one. Really lovely, and saying exactly what that feeling is when we hear any version of that song. Yes, this is the Long Goodbye (to be followed by the Big Sleep?) but don't blame me - you will keep insisting on writing about things that strike a chord in me, and I have all this reading and listening and love for the music bubbling up inside me that has never found a place to go. As Beatrice says in View from the Bridge (rather different context, admittedly), "Whatever happens, we all done it." Including our readers for encouraging us. So you can't pin this one on me! Not exclusively, anyway.

Yesterday I missed the writing recommended as a daily limbering up by Julia Cameron for the first time in six weeks. But I realise that these are, in effect, my Morning Pages for the moment: I can't think of anything I want to put down on paper (or up on screen) more strongly than this right now. And I have to trust that other stuff (like the play) is simmering away and that this is part of the process. (Denial? Me?) I certainly do have an ache to be read/heard right now, and the act of playwriting is delayed gratification, bigtime. (Only exceeded by Development Hell in Hollywood ...)

So ... Gloria. Yes, it's the only one l’d personally consider putting up there with GT. It feels more of an archetype, and the many recordings (Vito's a treat as yet denied to me) suggest that as a song, as a blueprint, it's more successful than Teardrops. (Or is it just that other groups realised you can't improve perfection? Even the Flamingos didn't remake it like they did lots of others...)

For me GT, as a performance, a recording, is more personally moving, and feels more "adult" – the knowledge of love and loss, the accepting of responsibility for the great hurt done, despite the attempts at self-exoneration: "I never realised... never knew.. ."

Obviously it's pointless to play winners and losers with two great songs; they're about different things. Gloria is the fiery passion of youthful longing captured to perfection (and yes, that includes a generous side order of self-pity, as you say); in Golden Teardrops, to use Nabokov's phrase about his later writing, "the fire of youth mingles with the ice of experience.... Whatever age Sollie McElroy was, he'd learnt: the chilly realisation that life is about causing pain - not deliberately, but the result is the same- and that happiness, love, isn't hanging around forever, so grab onto it for dear life, even though the odds are it'll go anyway, and you learn that for a moment but you keep forgetting it and putting yourself first and messing up again.

The teenager pining for Gloria has all that to come - oh, his pain is real enough to him, but the man would give anything to change places, to be back at the point where the unattainable idea had not transformed itself into that ugly mirror of his own shortcomings. Or he thinks he would. He can't, now, remember the full taste of that pain, evisceratingly real at the time.

(continues on separate posting)

Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, The Right to Write and other publications in the same vein (extracts here) can be useful in stimulating creativity, although her big idea is very simple: like a tap running clear, three sides of free writing first thing in the morning before selfconsciousness kicks in can get petty anxieties and other creativity-clogging thoughts out of your system - in her words, "minimise the censor" - increasing the possibility of genuine creativity later in the day. It's not a quick-fix solution but I've found it useful when I've adhered to it. Especially useful when you're trying to work out just what it is you want to write about. There's a religious or spiritual element underlying her approach but Ms. Cameron ingeniously invites you to see the word "God" as an acronym for "Good Orderly Direction."

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