Monday, May 19, 2014

ALL ALONE — EYDIE GORME (and a Jerry Vale obit note)

Yesterday Jerry Vale died (born in the Bronx, Gennaro Luigi Vitaliano…July 8, 1932 – May 18, 2014).

Wubbo Ockels also died on the 18th, but I'll save that tribute for another time, perhaps. Jerry was such a representative of Italian lounge singers that he turned up in the gangster films "Goodfellas" and "Casino." He had a nasal but velvety tenor voice, and pleasantly average looks…and was more in the league of Andy Williams and Mel Torme (friendly nice guys) than Robert Goulet or Sergio Franchi (overtly handsome and bombastic guys).

No wonder Ed Sullivan had Jerry on his show so often, even if he tended to make easy-listening albums full of songs that were hits for other people. And that…is all I have to say. I don't own a single song by Jerry Vale. Nothing by Goulet either, and only one single by Sergio, and maybe two Andy Williams and Mel Torme records. But for many, news of his passing will bring back nostalgia. If you're a real Vale fan and feeling alone…well, here's Eydie Gorme singing "All Alone." Which I intended to post this week anyway. Because…

Last week, I went to a thrift shop and dumped 75 CDs and a whole bunch of DVDs. And I found an Eydie Gorme album I didn't have (because I only have a few of them). I wasn't expecting to buy vinyl...can't remember the last time I did. Amazingly, I saw eight big plastic bins of records on their own table. Usually records aren't even sold in thrift shops anymore, and if they are, they're UNDER a table, where you rightly get kneed in the head and kicked in the ass by normal people passing by to get to CDs and bric-a-brac.

So I gave a flip, for old time's sake, and there was an Eydie album with "All Alone" on it. I thought, I'd kinda like to hear her take on it.

I grabbed it and stood behind two ninnies at the checkout line. I knew I was in for a long wait. The older ninny, buying blice (a pair of blouses), couldn't stop yapping to the clerk about how she'd been looking and looking for JUST THAT COLOR…She was fussing in her purse and her wallet and her change purse to give the EXACT change, burbling as if the bored cashier was her best friend.

Meanwhile the hawk-nosed nasal debutante also in front of me was busy whining (they don't talk, young girls, they WHINE) into her cell phone. I heard every word of her meaningless idiot conversation conducted in a mincing cadence and strident volume. She stayed on the phone when she made her purchase, barely listening to the cashier telling her the price. "Hold on," she said into the phone, "I can't hear you. Somebody's talking." Right, the somebody who wanted six bucks and tax.

I rolled my eyes and tried to point them elsewhere...but the store was crowded with unsightly idiots, and now somebody in the store had put on some Lady Gaga disco shit. As it thumped, the girl pulled out a bunch of credit cards, fussed about which one she'd use, and kept up her breathless conversation, yelling over the Gaga shit: "I'm buying a throw pillow! THROW PILLOW! It's pink and about ten inches…" Yeah, I was thinking of something else she could use. Long and deep to shut her mouth. She wasn't done yet. With great exasperation she paused her conversation. "What did you say? Oh. Paper or plastic…" Into the phone: "The clerk wants to know if I want a paper bag or a plastic one. I never know what to do. I know paper is good for the ecology and all that, but I need plastic bags for the garbage." To the clerk: "Do you have a paper bag with handles? No, that's too big. That's…too small…" Finally baby bear found one that was just right.

I placed the late great Eydie on the counter, slapped down a dollar and the fucking pennies for the tax, and was out the door, no bag, no conversation.

The way home? I heard loudmouth males bellowing and guffawing at each other over things even more stupid than what that simpering little slit was squealing about in the thrift shop. From behind I heard some bitch slapping the sidewalk with heeled boots (in 80 degree weather) following behind me for blocks. The sound was drowned for a while by some ethnic nutjob blasting disco from his car, and then from a howling ambulance siren set off by somebody who just wanted to speed down the street. Various little brats were crying and squalling over nothing. A dog, tied to a pole, was barking its guts up. And several nannies sashayed along blabbering to each other, their baby carriages forming a blockade that had me stumbling out into the gutter to get by them. I had to get back out of the gutter quickly, as there was construction work going on in the middle of the street, with a guy working a drill at top volume, his beer belly fluttering and shaking in time to the RAT-A-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT.

That's when the irony of my purchase hit me. ALL ALONE. That's what I wanted. To be home, listening to Eydie Gorme singing ALL ALONE, and having NO noises interfering. I hope when you download this, your asshole neighbors don't disturb your enjoyment of this most poignant song…about solitude. Solitude can be a lonely thing, but more often, it's something you wish for, and almost never get. Until you're as dead as Eydie Gorme or Jerry Vale



Anonymous said...

Excellent,witty - entertaining; Spot on about the vacuous background plapper of modern times.

BTW have you seen Mark Ellen's excellent book about his life in- and the future of - music journalism - "The man who sold the Word" (New Musical Express, Q, managing editor of Mojo, Word, etc.)

I do remember this song from my youth - hearing it on the radio sung by some diva, sung with bombast and pathos signalling her distress. Don't know who it was.


Anonymous said...

"The man who sold the Word" -review:



Ill Folks said...

Thanks Phaedra, I greatly appreciated your appraisal of the James Curtis W.C. Fields book, a fine tome.

So I'll look for this...there aren't many great rock writers out there anymore. I met Rob Sheffield at one of the BEA (Book Expo America) conventions...he's one of the better Rolling Stone staffers. But he doesn't cover music as much as TV and pop culture.

Not too many "music journalists" because there's not too much new music worth writing about, or artists who have something to say. It's aerobic dance moves and little of it needs a lyric sheet to follow.

Lisa Robinson just published her memoir, "There Goes Gravity." Haven't checked it out yet. She, like Ellen I guess, was "hands on and hang out," so that leads to lots of strange and colorful anecdotes.

I wasn't one of those. I didn't stay up all night at CBGB's or Studio 54 or wherever, which may have been foolish, but I wasn't into drugs or dress up. I had records to review and photos to develop and interview tapes to transcribe.

So nobody ever hit me! Meatloaf was a little glowery at first but we started talking baseball and he perked up. I can't recall anyone being much of a bastard but I tended to interview people I liked and they'd pick up on my vibe and be relaxed and friendly.

I wasn't strongly into The Stranglers or others that might want to destroy me just for fun., I avoided those assignments. I was more into New Wave people. Nick Lowe, Lene Lovich, Jim Carroll...those all went very well.

So there wouldn't be much of a book if I was doing a juicy violent tell all about my rock years! Some funny Q&A jousting with Gene Simmons, or some earthy and honest remarks from Billy Joel...maybe a few people would buy a book like that. Probably very few...

Anonymous said...

Let's say, with humility: I never liked Gorme. I felt she was shouting, not singing. Until I heard the song you posted.
Sometimes it's good to find something to like from a singer we usually don't :-)
Thank you !
Ravel, Montreal, Quebec

Tommy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tommy said...

I love it when you're cranky

Ill Folks said...

Ravel, yes, her "shouting" was Eydie sort of being the modern Merman (or early Streisand)...the power voice overwhelming the lyric. But if the lyric had some wistfulness, she could mirror it.

Tommy...thanks! That made me smile!