Julie Covington, "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina"


The best version ever, from the play Evita from 1977. There have been many covers of this song including a famous one by Madonna. None of them really come anywhere close to the original, which still reigns. Sarah Brightman and Madonna’s versions are simply not as good, though they have their fans. Better than Karen Carpenter’s too, and Karen is one of the finest female singer-songwriters of the modern era.
The only version that nearly matches this one is by Elaine Paige. It is the one good cover of this song, but even it does not quite match the original.

This is the Elaine Page version. Very beautiful, and her theatrics are the best of all. Very nearly as good as the original. Versions by Nicolle Scherzinger, Madelena Alberto, Babara Streisand, Patti Lu Pone, and Suzann Eren and Lea Salonga all have their fans, particularly those by Eren and Scherzinger.
This really is an operatic song, but it is nevertheless perfectly suitable for pop as Madonna showed us two decades later to great success.
Reactive in death, polarizing in life, for better or worse, Eva Person continues to define modern Argentine politics and culture.

Turgenev!

Turgenev is usually listed as one of the great Russian writers of the 19th Century along with Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Anton Chekhov and Nikolai Gogol. He was the favorite Russian novelist of Henry James and Joseph Conrad, who both said he was better than Dostoevsky. Vladimir Nabokov rated him below Tolstoy, Chekhov and Gogol but ahead of Dostoevsky.
Although Turgenev quarreled with Tolstoy and Dostoevsky during his lifetime, both eventually came to praise him.
After he died, Tolstoy said:

His stories of peasant life will forever remain a valuable contribution to Russian literature. I have always valued them highly. And in this respect none of us can stand comparison with him. Take, for example, Living Relic, Loner, and so on. All these are unique stories. And as for his nature descriptions, these are true pearls, beyond the reach of any other writer!

Turgenev never married but had many lovers and affairs. He had a lifelong affair with a Spanish-born opera singer who was raised in Paris. He spent most of his time in Western Europe, especially Germany and France. He preferred cosmopolitan Western Europe over his native land. He died at age 64.
He was particularly noted for his great ear for dialogue, as you can see in the excerpt below. Just to give you a taste of what he is like, here is a passage from the play, A Month in the Country:

You know, Ratikin, I noticed this a long time ago …You are wonderfully sensitive to the so-called beauties of nature, and talk about them exquisitely … very intelligently … so exquisitely, so intelligently, that I feel sure nature should be indescribably grateful to you for your beautifully chosen, happy phrases about her; you court nature, like a perfumed marquis on his little red-heeled shoes, pursuing a pretty peasant girl … the only trouble is, I sometimes think that nature will never be able to understand or appreciate your subtle language – just as the peasant girl wouldn’t understand the courtly compliments of the marquis; nature is simpler, yes, cruder than you suppose – because, thank God, she is healthy …Birches don’t melt, they don’t have fainting fits like ladies with weak nerves.

Nnnice!

Will Shakespeare Ever Be Equalled?

According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, he was not yet surpassed 150 years ago. Doubt if much has changed since. In glorious prose the likes of which we don’t see much anymore, Emerson lays out precisely what the contenders are up against:

Shakespeare is as much out of the category of eminent authors, as he is out of the crowd. He is inconceivably wise; the others, conceivably. A good reader can, in a sort, nestle into Plato’s brain, and think from thence, but not into Shakespeare’s. We are still out of doors. For executive faculty, for creation, Shakespeare is unique. No man can imagine it better. He was the farthest reach of subtlety compatible with an individual self – the subtlest of authors, and only just within the possibility of authorship.

With this wisdom of life, is the equal endowment of imaginative and of lyric power. He clothed the creatures of his legend with form and sentiments, as if they were people who had lived under his roof; and few real men have left such distinct characters as these fictions. And they spoke in language as sweet as it was fit.

Yet his talents never seduced him into an ostentation, nor did he harp on one string. An omnipresent humanity coordinates all his faculties.

Give a man of talents a story to tell, and his partiality will presently appear. He has certain observations, opinions, topics, which have some accidental prominence, and which he disposes all to exhibit. He crams this part, and starves that other part, consulting not the fitness of the thing, but his fitness and strength.

But Shakespeare has no peculiarity, no importunate topic; but all is duly given; no veins, no curiosities; no cow-painter, no bird-fancier, no mannerist is he: he has no discoverable egotism: the great he tells greatly; the small, subordinately. He is wise without emphasis or assertion; he is strong, as nature is strong, who lifts the land into mountain slopes without effort, and by the same rule as she floats a bubble in the air, and likes as well to do the one as the other.

This makes that equality of power in farce, tragedy, narrative, and love-songs; a merit so incessant, that each reader is incredulous of the perception of other readers.

Whoa! That’s some kickass prose. I didn’t know Emerson could write like that.

He’s right. Shakespeare’s in another world altogether. There’s Shakespeare, and then there’s everyone else.

References

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. 1850. Representative Men. Boston: Phillips, Sampson and Co.

Just How Many Poets Are NOT Queer, Anyway?

I’m going back through a lot of poetry these days for some reason, mostly native English language stuff. I find it annoying that so many of these guys were queer! It seems like just about all of my favorite poets were a bunch of queers, or often bisexuals. I mean, I still love these guys and all, but it’s sort of deflating to my image of these dudes.

It’s rather distressing because I like poetry. I went back reading the poets of centuries past and this same fagginess seems to creep up yet, even though back in those days this was a definite no-no. Novelists seem to be less queer, but there’s a fair amount of fagginess there too. Being a novelist is definitely a straighter occupation.

I don’t even want to go into playrights. When I was living in Los Angeles in the early 1980’s, I got into the theater scene a bit, and it was gay as Hell. The guys of course, but quite a few of the women too. You can actually do all right in these scenes if you’re a good-looking, masculine straight guy. The women are a bunch of frustrated fag hag types, often sort of bi, but you know how women are, they say they hate macho guys, but they just can’t resist the bad boy in the scruffed up leather jacket even though they sort of hate him, macho pig that he is.

Anyway, in these scenes, and in Hollywood and places like that in general, you can clean up in you have good game, good looks, or some combination. There are all sorts of single women there who are pretty frustrated. Most of the guys are either married or queer, and there aren’t many single guys to go around. You’re hot property, if you don’t mind being surrounded by hungry queers and bi guys (these latter are everywhere in those gay neighborhoods) lusting after you all the time. Actually, that is pretty annoying right there!

Anyway, brings me back to my original question. What is it about literary writing that turns guys queer, or seems fit mostly for queers? One could argue that writing poems is a pretty faggy thing to do, and that makes sense. It’s not exactly tackle football. But that begs the question of why so many of these literary women, especially the poets, are a bunch of lesbians! I mean, if poetry is feminizing, why aren’t female poets these swaying, coquettish Southern belle types afraid to get their hands dirty?

Either that or just being a poet attracts weirdos and misfits in general, sexual and otherwise. That’s about the only sense I could make of it.

Another thing I noticed is that most all of these guys are depressed. Many were manic-depressive, and alcoholism seems to be epidemic among poets in the last century anyway. Pretty similar with novelists. Lots of depressives, lots of boozers. Many were suicides in one way or another. It’s starting to make me depressed just reading about all these guys.

Why? Is writing depressing? Is depression good for the creative spirit? How could it be, as it’s so enfeebling?

One reason I got into journalism is that journalists are fairly sane types. They had a reputation, at least at city papers, for being squares. Some were sort of eccentrics, but they worked hard, often all night. They drank, but they also worked. They were sort of these hard-bitten types. They were either family men or straight bachelors, but city room journalism isn’t a very faggy job. It’s kind of macho, actually. Check out any old Hollywood movie where they show the newsroom guys.

I still don’t see why you practically have to be queer to be a poet. Poetry is kind of cool. Anyway, it’s a good way to get chicks, cuz a lot of women are romantic, and a lot of them love writers and even poets. At least that’s been my experience anyway. C’mon guys! Crank out those poems! Chicks dig em!