Saturday, December 3, 2011

O happy day

"O happy day!" That's what I'm listening to at this moment, the gospel song from the late Sixties on Randy Bachman's Vinyl Tap on CBC - this week, his "night and day" show. When I'm home, I spend my Saturday nights with the radio blasting, dancing around while doing mindless chores. It's a wonderful show, a tour of music through the decades with Randy's insider commentary - he seems to have known every musician of the past 40 years - and background guitar-picking. "When Jesus walks, O when he walks, when Jesus walks, he walks my sins away. O happy day."

Love it. It takes so little to make me happy. Thank you, Lord, for CBC radio. Randy's finishing with "Oh what a night," Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Excuse me, I have to get up and dance.

Okay, I'm back, out of breath. Nothing like the Four Seasons to get those toes tappin'.

This morning, I went to a Christmas bazaar at PAL - the Performing Arts Lodge, where artists can live in retirement with rent geared to income - and ran into Kenny Wickes, an actor friend who lives there. In 1973, I sublet his tiny apartment right at Cumberland and Yonge, an incredible location, while he was playing Rumpelstiltskin in Nova Scotia. During his very long career, he specialized in Rumpelstiltskin. He is now a gleeful 90 years old and told me he'd appeared in several television shows this past year. For one part, he was flown to Montreal.

The other night, I saw the extraordinary Betty White on Jon Stewart - she's a mere 89, with a new TV show. I want to be just like Betty and Kenny when I grow up. Oh, and speaking of wonderful elders - just got a call from my 89-year old mother, who wanted to tell me about a terrific radio show she has just discovered: Randy Bachman's Vinyl Tap! She told me that as she listened, she was dancing around her kitchen. The apple does not fall far ... etc.

On a less jolly note, I watched something that disturbed me the other evening. George Strombo welcomed two of my heroes, Stephen Lewis and Michele Landsberg, now married 49 years; Michele has just put out a compilation of her feminist articles, and Stephen, as we all know, is an internationally renowned leader of intelligence and compassion. They were talking about the fate of women around the world, and how girls are now succeeding in so many fields which were formerly closed to them.
"And now," said Stephen, with a sarcastic grin, "we are seeing all those crocodile tears being shed for boys, because they aren't doing as well."

"Crocodile tears"? How could such a wise man dismiss so cavalierly the fact that boys, at least in our society, aren't doing well at all? That rates of unemployment and suicide have sky-rocketed, that young men have not found a place and are increasingly lost in our feminized, post-industrial world? Stephen and Michele have grandsons! They know we do not make life better for all by improving the lot of females at the expense of males.

Stephen Lewis made fun of himself as a "sexist pig" because as a teenager, he approved of a poster with a scantily-clad woman on it. Oh for God's sake. I was watching a documentary about prehistoric man with my 27-year old son the other day, when the scientist on screen showed us the black, decayed skull "of a girl, aged 18 to 25."
"Mmmm," said my son approvingly. "Girl 18 to 25." He was joking, of course, but there's no question that he enjoys a man's appetite. I love him for his manliness, for his appreciation and love of women, his grace and humour, his weakness and vulnerability, his struggles and triumphs, his anger and his tenderness. Even, yes, his tattoos.

I pray we have not created a world in which the strengths of women are celebrated and encouraged, and the strengths of men are scorned. Crocodile tears, indeed.

Come back, Randy. Let's dance some more.


  1. When he "WASHED" my sins away, methinks. But I like your version better!

  2. I WONDERED why Jesus was doing so much wandering about! Thank you for your correction. Silly moi - shows how much I know about good ol' Jesus.

  3. He did a lot of walking around too as I recall. I remember doing that piece as part of a teenage backup group for a gospel-blues singer named Tobi Lark back in the sixties. We were probably the whitest, most North-Toronto choir ever to sing it, but we sure got Massey Hall dancing that night!

  4. What fun to sing something so vital. In my next life, I want to be a singer too.

  5. Oh me too! A mezzo-soprano, capable of the great Handel roles. A walking role would be quite satisfactory!

  6. Oh my, Theresa, I hadn't dared imagine something so grand. I had an image of a Feist - a Joni, a Joan Baez, singing my heart out with a guitar and having a an affair with Bob Dylan or some other musical genius. But Handel - no, Bach, the B Minor Mass, the St. Matthew Passion, let's aim for the stars.