Friday, December 21, 2012

Great Drinking Songs (41 &42)

I find something eerily nostalgic about the popular music of the 1930s and 1940s. The period of my parents' childhood was still dominating the national consciousness in the UK when I was a kid in the 1970s. I suppose I got my first introduction to the music hall comedy double act Flanagan and Allen from the long-running BBC wartime comedy series Dad's Army, about the ramshackle volunteer defence force of the Home Guard, which used their song Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Hitler? as its theme music. I later discovered their Underneath The Arches, and grew even fonder of that. It had been their signature song throughout most of their long career, written by Bud Flanagan in 1932. It really shouldn't be possible to write such a beautiful little song, such a cheery and upbeat song about homelessness. And yet, underneath the jauntiness of the tune, the hopelessness is still there. It's always struck a particularly personal chord with me. Although I haven't often been forced to sleep rough, I have - and continue to - come unpleasantly close to it. I always feel that precariousness in my life. But I try to regard my straitened material circumstances with Stoic indifference, to find crumbs of comfort wherever I can. "Underneath the arches, we dream our dreams away."

But that's just a quirky personal favourite of mine.

For the final post, the final song in this series, there can only be one choice: Ol' Blue Eyes singing My Way - the perfect balance of maudlin nostalgia and defiant self-assertion, a timeless pub singalong. Take it away, Frank.

But I fear Francis Albert is just a bit too mellow for my last video posting. Nasty, demented, sad Sid Vicious tearing the song apart is rather more appropriate to the current air of millennial despair.

So long, everyone. Thank you for reading (and commenting) over the years. And please continue to do so; I will still be monitoring the comments and replying, just not adding new posts after today (although I might sneak a few backdated ones in here and there - well, especially here and here - so keep your eyes peeled!).


KingTubby said...

More than one person has been murdered in a karaoke bar for butchering My Way.

Enjoy your Xmas break me-time, FROOG.


Froog said...

I don't suppose anyone has butchered it quite so zestfully as Sid.

I'm not a big fan of karaoke anyway - too much pressure on the individual, too exposed... and the sound systems often make even quite good singers sound pretty rough.

I like the spirit of a communal singalong, though, where the emphasis is on raucous fun rather than musical precision, and you can hide behind the better voices in the company. My Way works pretty well for that, too.

Best wishes to you for Christmas and the New Year, KT. Light up a Camberwell Carrot for me.