Saturday, December 11, 2010

Have yourself a merry little Christmas...

Andy Connell just put this on Facebook of himself and my heart skipped a beat.  This is the last song Pam sang to me.  Bitter, bitter sweet Andy and Pam...two people I love dearly.

It was December 2007 and we were all wending our way to England to spend Christmas with our parents.  I decided to go to Pam’s B&B in Newport for a week on the way.  Pam was taking part in a dinner theatre Christmas cabaret at the time and had a solo spot singing the above song.  She was eager for me to watch the show and I of course was eager to go along.  So we drove over to this cute little venue in her silver Mazda sport’s car.  She introduced me to the other singers who all seemed of course to adore her.   As they each walked away Pam told me their back-stories.  I sat at the bar with Pam’s husband Keith to watch as the show began.  They sang the typical Christmas fare all of them dressed in glittery clothes with warm winter scarves thrown around their necks.  Then it came to Pam’s solo.  She sat on a chair centre stage the other singers draping themselves around her some sitting on the floor looking up at her as she sang.  She was enchanting to me as always, and tears welled up in my eyes.  And what a truly gorgeous song this is I mused, perfect for her.  I scanned the room proudly but to my indignation you COULDN’T hear a pin drop!  People in the audience were holding conversations whilst my beautiful sister was singing!  This will never do! How very dare they!  I began to beadily scrutinize her performance for clues.  Right!  In no time at all could see what the problem was. I made a mental note to set this matter straight as soon as we returned to the house.  Having worked for many years as an actress I knew how to fix this.

So when we got back I threw my coat on a chair and launched into action.  I immediately declared, “Pam! You are singing the song all wrong!”  Pam winced a little knowing her sister only too well.  She tried to explain to me that she didn’t really care but I was adamant.  “Look Pam people were talking!”  Pam shrugged.  “Don’t you want them to listen?!  Oh come on of course you do, come on let me show you.”  I went to find YouTube on Pam’s laptop and started searching for a clip of Judy Garland singing the song.  “But Jane,” Pam bleated “It’s OK as it is.  The other singers love me singing it this way.”  “Yes but Pam it’s not good enough!  We should have been able to hear a pin drop.  We'll have none of that audience talking while singer is singing lark around here!  Come on, please, look.”  Pam sighing sat on the high chair next to her desk and as we both focused on the computer the master class began.  “Now Pam this is the problem.  You are singing the song cheerfully.  Right?  Wrong!  You are swaying rather jauntily from side to side and it’s all kind of upbeat and jazzy.  No, no, no!  Now watch.”  And I clicked onto Judy singing.  Pam looked at Judy and then looked at me expressionless.  “Do you see?”  Pam shrugged unenthusiastically,  “It’s melancholy Pam, sad not cheery. Now let’s get to work.”  And whether Pam liked it or not I completely changed the way she delivered the song until to my mind it was perfect.  “There!  Now when you sing that song tomorrow evening I guarantee you will hear that pin drop.”

The next evening I stayed at home.  When Pam got back from the cabaret I asked rather smugly how it went.  "Worse," she said. "What? You're kidding me why?" "The other performers didn't like it.  They were going mad asking why I'd changed it and to change it back!"  "Oh, that's ridiculous!" I said, "Ah but what were the audience like?"  I asked confidently. "Quieter," she said, "listening."  "There you are then.  I told you!  Well weren't you pleased?"  I said.  "Yes but anyway I think I'll change it back to the old way." "Do what?  But why?" I asked.  I think it was probably peer pressure.  This turned out to be Pam's last Christmas.


  1. Oh Jane. What a story. I totally get you! Yes of course! I have always LOVED that version of Judy Garland singing this, my favorite of any I've heard. And it's precisely for the reason you explain. There is that ironic melancholy underlying her singing, the story behind it that you feel is there.

  2. I know! That song will be even more melancholy now.... in my life. Thanks for sharing Ruth...

  3. Such a touching story, Jane. I know how much you loved Pam. Beautiful story. I have to listen to Judy Garland's rendition of this song now. Love to you.