Saturday, June 19, 2010

All Apologies: Green Monster Edition

No, this post is not about a famous wall in Fenway Park in Boston. The green monster I refer to is jealousy. It is one of our most powerful emotions, and here it drives two very different women to an act that they feel compelled to apologize for later. But their apologies are as different as are the women themselves.

Kirsty MacColl: Miss Otis Regrets


Miss Otis Regrets is a standard by Cole Porter. Porter often focused on the foibles of the upper classes, but perhaps never as scathingly as here. The title character, driven by jealousy, has done something awful. So what does she apologize for? Through her servant, she sends regrets for missing a social engagement the next day.

Kirsty MacColl first recorded Miss Otis Regrets with the Pogues for Red Hot and Blue, an album created to raise money for AIDS awareness and research. That was a great version, but I did not feel that I could use it, because it was done in a medley with Just One of Those Things, which does not fit our theme at all. Fortunately, MacColl recorded Miss Otis Regrets again, this time as a stand-alone track. But this time, the Pogues were not involved. MacColl does just fine on her own though.

Tracy Nelson: Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair


Now here is another woman in the same situation. Driven by jealousy, she has committed the same crime of passion as Miss Otis. But her reaction is quite different. She cannot live with what she has done, and she apologizes for something she knows cannot be made right, by begging the judge to show her no mercy. She is sorry, and she wants to pay the highest possible price. For this, she commands far more of our sympathy than Miss Otis does.

Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair was made famous by Bessie Smith about 75 years ago. Since then, many blues and jazz singers, both female and male, have sung it. David Bromberg did a great version, and I would love to have an mp3 of Roy Bookbinder’s rendition. But, even though the arrangement is quite different, Tracy Nelson’s version strikes me as being the closest in spirit to Smith’s.

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