For reasons of no import at all, I cannot sleep. And I have – once more – resorted to the carnival of the past, the reverie of “before” and so … YouTube and the music of then … enjoy.
This is Patti LuPone and Kurt Peterson singing Endless Delights from the original cast recording of The Baker’s Wife. God, I LOVE this song. The first time I heard it I was – either 17 or 18 – and living a life of debauchery and my own sort of endless delights. I was spending a night with a group of my theatrical friends. Oh, the times we had. And we were all spending a night in someone’s townhouse, and I was – not unusually for me at the time – smoked up, drunk, and Black Beauty-ed into a sort of coma when a dear one said, “You’re going to love this.” And he played for me the album of The Baker’s Wife, which I had never heard. I was in love with the score and Patti LuPone, and while I was so fucked up I somehow burned a hole through my yellow overalls (yes, yellow overalls) and into my thigh WITHOUT NOTICING until the next day, I remember EVERY WORD of this album. LOL. It was, indeed, a time of Endless Delights.
In case you don’t know – The Baker’s Wife is the failed treasure from which came the often sung (to death) song, Meadowlark. Miss Patti LuPone does it here.
I have loved me many a Meadowlark, and like any theatre obsessive, I have REPEATEDLY thought it the story of MY life – which is what makes it a great song, it connects to something universal we have all felt – and oh dear – don’t get me started – so, here you go. Some other Meadowlark‘s for you.
First, a really rare version, the amazing and glorious and why isn’t she one of the famous divas like the Misses Buckley and LuPone? Miss Judy Kuhn. Her “Ahh, just when I thought my heart was finally numb…” around 4:20 is simply heartbreaking.
And, though this song makes NO SENSE WHATSOEVER as a duet, who can resist Betsy Wolfe and Lindsay Mendez – TOGETHER? Not me, that’s for damn sure.
Too, Sara Ramirez’s version is interesting. She is far more aggressive than most. There is a foundation of anger in her rendition – as if she is furious at the universe for putting her in this position. I find that a fascinating and smart take. I like it. A lot. Though I think the anger compromises the heartbreak that needs to be present at the end of the song when the dichotomy of the new love and passion versus the old love and comfort, the ache of the choice, the knowing that she is killing the king . . . so to speak . . . that is lost. But still . . . I get it.
And finally, my very most favorite … so incredibly gorgeous. Miss Betty Buckley. First, there is the instrument that is her voice – which is gorgeously unique in tonality and inflection and articulation and that pitch – so amazingly, piercingly, fantastically right where it should be. And with all of that, there is then her interpretation. She is THERE in every moment; she plays EVERY character; she doesn’t just sing songs, she LIVES them and not just her voice but her entire being – her body, her face, her SOUL, the ESSENCE of who she is is lent to the song and the story – SHE IS TRANSFORMED by the story and thus, transforms us. There are so many brilliant, breath-taking, make you gasp moments during this number – which I have had the privilege of seeing live – that I dasn’t begin to point out where you ought to especially attend – ATTEND TO EVERY SECOND. But, from the “Fly with me” at 1:59 through the “Every time I heard that part, I cried” at 2:39, Miss Buckley delivers more emotional arc and color than most actors bring to entire roles in two hour plays and films. She is transcendent. She is magic. Watching Miss Betty Buckley singing a song is like attending four years of acting school – not one false moment. She is all truth, she channels emotion from that place of Love and Light where it is born. This is musical theatre. This is acting. This is finding your Light and letting it shine and sharing it. This is Love. This is Life. This is as close to believing in God as I am ever likely to come – because if there was a God, She would sing Truth and Love like Betty Buckley.
Now, I am going to try to sleep.