I'll be swinging by "Tucker Carlson Tonight" in a little while, live across America at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific. While I'm on the makeup slab and having my hairpiece vacuumed, I thought I'd thank all the many readers who had interesting responses to our unusually triumphalist Song of the Week: "We Are the Champions." Sometimes a chap just wants to crow at the top of his lungs, but nevertheless our longtime Los Angeles correspondent on matters musical, Dan Hollombe, was not thrilled by our choice of song:
While I don't mind the fact that the whole melody is based on the bridge of "Send In The Clowns," surely even you must realize that the second verse of "We Are The Champions" is amateurish songwriting at it's worst. I can't even think of another song that attempts to cram that many syllables into spaces that simply were not designed to accommodate them.
Actually, I don't particularly mind that syllabic pile-up - "andeverythingthatgoeswithit" - although I appreciate that Jerome Kern would have sent it back had Oscar Hammerstein submitted it. But, apropos David Kelley-Wood's comment on the other high-noted Freddie (of Freddie and the Dreamers), Dan adds:
I do however, find the thought of you belting out "You Were Made For Me" in it's original key quite amusing. You'd have to suck in a serious amount of helium to hit that high A♭ that opens the song, although it is a step lower than the high B♭ that Elvis hits at the end of "Surrender."
Actually I hit a high A♭- or, key-wise, the enharmonic doppelganger G# - not so long ago, in a performance of Sting's "Every Breath You Take". I'm not sure Dan's quite ready for that, so we'll leave it for another day.
Meanwhile, welcome to the eleventh episode of our current Tale for Our Time - John Buchan's classic thriller of Great Power intrigue in the weeks before the Great War, The Thirty-Nine Steps. In tonight's episode, the action moves to Bradgate, based on Broadstairs on the Isle of Thanet, where Buchan wrote his "shocker" while recuperating from a duodenal ulcer. It's a respectable middle-class seaside town, and thus utterly baffling to a rough-hewn colonial such as Richard Hannay:
A man of my sort, who has travelled about the world in rough places, gets on perfectly well with two classes, what you may call the upper and the lower. He understands them and they understand him. I was at home with herds and tramps and roadmen, and I was sufficiently at my ease with people like Sir Walter and the men I had met the night before. I can't explain why, but it is a fact. But what fellows like me don't understand is the great comfortable, satisfied middle-class world, the folk that live in villas and suburbs. He doesn't know how they look at things, he doesn't understand their conventions, and he is as shy of them as of a black mamba.
Nevertheless, Hannay is reassured to find that, amidst an entire town of middle-class suburban black mambas, a few don't quite seem to fit:
He was a pleasant, clean-looking young fellow, and he put a question to us about our fishing in very good English. But there could be no doubt about him. His close-cropped head and the cut of his collar and tie never came out of England.
Ah-ha: the filthy look of foreign shirtmaking! Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear me read Part Eleven of The Thirty-Nine Steps simply by clicking here and logging-in. Earlier episodes can be found here.
If you've yet to hear any of our Tales for Our Time, you can do so by joining The Mark Steyn Club. For more details, see here - and don't forget our new Gift Membership. Please join me on the telly with Tucker in an hour or so - and right here tomorrow evening for the concluding episode of The Thirty-Nine Steps.