Thursday, November 19, 2009


Edward Woodward starred in the TV hits "Callan" and "The Equalizer," and was an Emmy-winner for 1990's "Remembering World War II." Though mostly a television actor, he also was memorable in the films "Breaker Morant" and "The Wicker Man," the latter including a vivid bit of defiant and robust singing.

Woodward actually gained some initial fame as a singer. Among his first important credits were roles in the Broadway musical "Blithe Spirits" and back in the U.K., a musical version of "A Tale of Two Cities." He sang regularly in clubs well before "Callan" gave him TV stardom. With a strong, traditional vocal style, he was no stranger to the recording studio, putting out strangely compelling work. His albums include "Love is the Key" "An Evening with Edward Woodward,""Don't Get Around Much Anymore," "The Jewel That was Ours" "It Had to be You," "Thought of You," "Woodward Again" and "This Man Alone." He didn't avoid contemporary songs, feeling that his unique, older sensibilities could bring out the best in the lyrics.

One obvious choice for this tribute, which comes 3 days after his passing on November 16th, is "Sound of Silence." As an actor concerned with his lines, he decides to change the emphasis in one of the sentences. While Paul Simon was more concerned with the rhythm and rhyme of the song, and sang "and echoes in the wells of silence," Woodward alters the cadence: "And echoed in the wells of silence."

But let's add another song: "The Tide Will Turn for Rebecca," which Woodward chose to record even though its author, Elton John, did not. At the time Woodward immortalized it on vinyl, only a few fans owned a bootleg of Elton's demo version. Both tracks come from "This Man Alone," which also featured his versions of "Eleanor Rigby," "A Taste of Honey" and "Scarborough Fair," as well as the catchy "Today I Killed A Man I Didn't Know."

It might be argued that numbers such as "Sounds of Silence" and "The Tide Will Turn for Rebecca" flourish best when done by an actor who sings, rather than a singer who doesn't act. Both tunes are, in their way, more colorful than the Paul Simon and Elton John versions. It takes an actor to try and make sense of these Taupin lyrics:

"Can you hear the floorboards crying in a room on the second floor, that used to be owned by someone who's no one, but he don't live there anymore
"Only Rebecca clasping her head on her knees, trying to work out what is about
And why someone had to leave.
"But dry up your tears, stop counting the years. Don't worry what's coming. Forget all your fears. And the tide will turn for Rebecca. Her life will change, her hopes rearrange into something that might really matter
"She's all alone in a world of her own with a key that fits her lonely world. You won't need a crowd to shout out aloud what she says deserves to be heard."

Here's to the long career of Edward Woodward (and don't call him "Ed Wood" for short).



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