Thursday, 31 December 2009

Doo Wop Dialog[ue]: 42

pismotality
(42/M/London, England)


Clarke,

I've decided not to worry for the moment about starting, stopping or whatever. This is whatever it is, and will end whenever it ends. All I know is that the satisfactions of writing these posts and responding to yours are pretty considerable, akin to my "real" writing, and the immediacy (can't save and refine it) is definitely an antidote to my normal writing process. For the moment I've got the time to pursue it (even though the full size keyboard for this web TV won't be on sale till sometime later this month - maybe even this stabbing urgently at tiny letters is part of the process).

I think you're spot on with the "empty promise at best" bit - and maybe both sides know it. Someone said (poss. Marsh yet again) that the plea in Goffin-King's Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow - "Tell me now and I won't ask again" - is the girl wilfully deceiving herself: she knows there's only heartbreak ahead "when the night meets the morning sun" but still needs the formulaic reassurance at that moment – he owes her that, at least, if she's doing this for him.

The play I'm currently writing (or not writing, given that I'm doing this) is for the Soho Theatre in London, and a few months ago they had a production that moved me deeply: set in a home for expectant unmarried teenage mothers in 60s England, it showed them listening to girl groups and sending up the sentiments (eg mockingly echoing, with gestures, the Shangri-Las' portentous "Cause that can never...happen...AGAIN!") but at the same time needing, and half-believing, those dreams, despite the transparent fact they'd been let down by boys. Maybe believing in two contradictory things at once, a la Alice in wonderland, is a deep human need, and dooowop sums it up.

What you were saying about the light made me think of American Graffiti and the way the move from night into day, especially tor the Richard Dreyfuss character, is also a stripping of illusions: you can't go on living forever in that indeterminate, protective dimness, even if your name Is Blanche Dubois. And of course AG is about that post High School test of affections you were talking about.

I can see there's so much more I want to say (but the right words won't - ) and I've barely responded to, or conveyed my enjoyment of, your piece, let alone my response to the performance itself, but I'll take a break there to ensure this instalment will fit. No flipping - unless it's the Marcels' Blue Moon (Goodbye to Love).


The play, Be My Baby by actress and playwright Amanda Whittington, is still regularly revived and now taught as a school text; her website will direct you towards explanatory notes and a facebook page so that those involved in productions of the play can also help each other.

In what was for me the most touching scene, the girls are obliged to work in the laundry when Chapel of Love comes on the radio, gradually uniting them in a kind of happy frenzy: a girl stirring the boiling sheets with a pair of wooden pincers improvises a microphone; a (dry) sheet is wrapped around another girl and they all proceed to act out the lyrics with whatever comes to hand and celebrate the instant bride.

As well as being great fun it has a dramatic point because it shows how these girls from different social background actually have the same things in common, the same hopes and dreams, underneath, and it took the music to break down the protective barriers we'd seen earlier in the play.

If I'm not mistaken (and I could be, because I can't find my copy of the book), it was said of George Goldner that he had the emotional sensibility of a thirteen year old girl, and that when he first heard Chapel of Love he repeatedly thumped the table in his insistence that this was a massive hit. Maybe he cried, too, at the vision of eternal happiness ("never be lonely anymore") therein limned; I'd like to think so. But until I can relocate Ken Emerson's great book about the Brill Building, Always Magic in the Air, I can't be sure.

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