But I did write it and they deserve the compliment, or to be precise, BBC4 deserves the compliment because last night they showed not one, not two, but three superb programmes. The first covered the history (if that's quite the word) of 'easy listening' popular music. They had various pop music experts on the programme who more or less scratched their shaking heads in wonderment that somehow, in someway, despite all the publicity and news articles that followed every burp from every 'shout 'n' bawl stomper', easy listening music which was virtually ignored by the 'pop press' carried on regardless against all the passing fads and fancies and was followed by a huge audience which earned its practitioners zillions. Two of the performers featured in the programme were The Carpenters and Richard Clayderman. The latter didn't really 'do it' for me but I thought The Carpenters were terrific and I still like their songs. Apart from any other consideration it was such a relief in those days to stumble upon some real artistry after the non-stop bawling bangers had finished shouting their banal, juvenile, grunt 'n' snuffle 'lyrics' - yes, you Rolling Stones, I mean you, and I still 'don't get no satisfaction'!
The second programme which followed featured extracts from the old Andy Williams shows in which he had sung duets with just about all the truly 'greats' from popular music over the last 60 years. One thing I noticed with him and the likes of Tony Bennett and Dean Martin was that although, obviously, they did not have the range of opera singers, nevertheless, they aquired many of the skills, for example, in taking and holding sufficient breath to prolong a note for what seems like an eternity. Also, I was struck by the sheer skill and hard physical work which must have gone into executing some of the routines. I did not know that Johny Mathis had been an athlete as a young man and Williams used that as the basis for a song routine involving bouncing basketballs and various bits of gym equipment. Apparently they worked and rehearsed that one routine for five full days before shooting. Finally, there was a truly poignant moment during which - honestly! - I was blinking back some tears. That was when an aged Judy Garland appeared with him and in the intro he warned that due to her age and physical condition she had difficulty holding a note for too long. Of course, together they sang Over the Rainbow and one instantly zoomed back in time to one's childhood. The sight and sound of this frail but great old trouper reprising perhaps the greatest song she ever sang was intensely touching.
The last programme started at midnight - way past my bedtime! - and was devoted to Andy Williams singing some of his famous singles. The very first song was Moon River - so I just had to stay and listen to that. Again, at the speed of light my imagination whisked me back in time to 1962 and runway #2 at Bahrain airport where I spent months living in a tent, courtesy of Her Maj, and the radio at the American airbase at Dhahran in Saudi Arabia seemed to play only two songs, Andy Williams' Moon River and Johny Cash's Big Bad John. Anyway, courtesy of my mate Rupe's dead-clever-recording-thingie I have saved that part of the Andy Williams show for later viewing. I believe there is some internet-thingie which allows you to watch BBC programmes after they have been broadcast, so if you can, watch all three!
ADDITIONAL: I have just noticed that all three progs are to be repeated tomorrow evening (Sunday) starting at 11.30pm - so set your recording-thingies NOW - and that's an order - and that includes you, DM!