In one sense, when you pick up a Halmark record, you can be pretty sure what you're going to get. In another way though, there's no way of knowing what wonders of bad lyric writing, over the top singing or other weirdness you're going to experience. In the case of today's record, that surprise was finding the longest song-poem I've ever heard. A second surprise comes at the end of side two.
But first, we get the classic backing track to "My Daddy He Died in 1969", in this case featuring the song "O Lord Stand By Me" sung by the Kimmels, Jack and Mary, in typical style.
Next up is the star of our show, a song with the vague title of "This is Worth". Rather amazingly, Halmark did not put this song, which is SIX MINUTES AND 19 SECONDS long, by itself on one side of a record, but rather, made it part of a nine minute side, when paired with the previous song.
And what was the subject matter that required 379 seconds of Halmark majesty? Nothing less than the authors story of having read the entire bible, and her emotional and visceral reactions and responses to some of the high points of both the old and new testaments. She focuses on a half-dozen or so of the most familiar stories
I assume that the backing track used here - one of the most overwrought in the Halmark catalog - has been extended via editing, but I don't have it in me to go back to other songs using this track to find out exactly where and for how long. Whatever they did, it again resulted in the need for the singer to stretch out the last few lines, repeating words here and there in order to get the last lines to occur in the right place, over the closing bars of the track. Amazing. Mind-numbing, too, but still, amazing.
Side two opens with "Want to Rest a Little While", which is about as standard issue Halmark as their records can get, with a get-it-off-my-chest lyric which also features a religious aspect, sung over another of the more overwrought backing track. In this case, it's a backing track I've always loved, for its use in tandem with with the lyric of "Life is a Flame", on the first song poem I ever owned. Oddly, that record runs 4:30, which this one is well under three minutes, so "Flame" must also have utilized some looping of backing track segments.
And finally, another real surprise, in the song "Gypsy Tell My Fortune". I don't recall ever having heard this backing track before (although I may have forgotten it). Instead of the typical turgid '40's style backing track, this song features what sounds to me like 1960's supper club soul and jazz. As with most other records they made, the backing still sounds like it's been recorded from the doorway of the studio. But aside from the recording quality, the track, the lead vocal, even the lyric, sound like something I'd have expected to hear on Preview, rather than Halmark. Any other thoughts on this one?