Monday, July 12, 2010
In Loving Tribute
The song-poem format seems just about perfectly designed for the tribute song, particularly the bad tribute song. And indeed, there are countless song-poems out there which are written by wives about husbands, or husbands about wives, about parents or children. And of course, there were many entire albums released in the wake of Elvis' sudden, unexpected death. There were even entire song-poem albums about Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, as well as at least one 45 apiece (that I know of) dedicated to Clark Gable and E.T. (In fact, doesn't "Heartlight" seem like it could have been a song-poem?)
None of that knowledge prepared me for what I encountered when I first put the needle down to enjoy the Halmark release, "A Friend To All", in which the writer, "in her declining years", offers up three minutes of tribute to, yes, Arthur Godfrey.
This song was presumably written not long after Godfrey ended his regular broadcasting career in 1972, and no doubt some time before it became more generally known what a unpleasant man he tended to be.
The opening moments of the flip side, "A Walk on a Lonely Road", gave me great hopes. For one thing, I don't think I'm familiar with this backing track, a rarity at this point, with Halmark records, and I was greatly taken with the drum intro, and to a lesser degree with the music bed for the first minute or so. I think something interesting could have been done with this.
In the end though, (Mr.? Mrs.? Miss?) Egle Bigatti's trite lyrics, the increasingly bombastic arrangment, and the typical over-the-top vocal performance sink this one, as does the nearly four minute length.