Out of the Past

From Irving Berlin’s lovely lyric, You Keep Coming Back Like a Song:

From out of the past where forgotten things belong
You keep coming back like a song

You keep coming back like a song
A song that keeps saying, remember

It’s too late for me to grow up in the nineteen forties–the historical site of all my celebrity obsessions, favorite fabrics, film score composers and vocal artists.

If People or In-Style magazine featured splashy profiles, breathless rumour-central reports or even grainy paparazzi snaps of Fred Astaire, Ida Lupino, Robert Mitchum, Richard Widmark, Bette Davis or Judy Garland, I’d sign up for a two year subscription.

I’m well into a decade I cannot name but I console myself with my netflix queue and by attending concerts featuring living singers who seem to be channeling stage personas and vocal stylings from the past.

In the past four years I’ve hustled to see performances by the following singers: Barbara Cook, Betty Buckley, Wesla Whitfield, Sylvia McNair, Maude Maggart, Tony Bennett, Audra McDonald, Shirley Horn, Luciano Souza, Patty Lupone and Andrea Marcovicci (from whom I received my first ever celebrity autograph).

Alas, I missed a few cruial talents before they departed to the place where they make you go to bed at eleven: Rosemary Clooney, Bobby Short, Ella Fitzgerald and Susannah McCorkle (I can at least say that I read their obituaries in current editions of the New York Times).

On my current to-see before they perish list: Blossom Dearie, Bernadette Peters, Elaine Stritch, Charles Aznavour and of course, Liza Minnelli.

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