Friday, December 4, 2009

My Mother, the Queen, and Susan Boyle

I will confess that I once got sucked into a season of American Idol:  the clash of the titans, Ruben and Clay.  So when a friend sent a YouTube clip of Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent, I knew Simon Cowell was the judge to watch.  And, as a result of that heads-up, I wasn’t caught entirely flat-footed when my mother said she hoped Susan Boyle would get a chance to sing for the Queen.

Mom, who is old enough to know the truth about the so-called “golden years,” has a great affinity for the Queen.  They are, after all, of the same generation, but, more importantly, of the same sensibility.  We went together to see Helen Mirren play the Queen, and Mom nodded in confirmation when she said, “I prefer to keep my feelings to myself.  Foolishly I believed that's what people wanted from their Queen.  Not to make a fuss nor wear one's heart on one's sleeve, duty first... self second.”

I agreed it seemed only right that Susan Boyle should sing for the Queen, and I paid attention until I learned she lost out to another act.  Then, about a week ago, Mom wrote again to let us, her daughters with middle names of Elizabeth and Margaret, know that Susan Boyle’s first album had just come out.

In the run-up to Thanksgiving, I’d lost sight of that, until the New York Times reported, “Susan Boyle, Top Seller, Shakes Up CD Trends.”  The article said, while Boyle’s album had “the biggest opening-week sales for any album this year,” “only about 40,000 were sold through iTunes.”  The article’s explanation for this phenomenon included speculation that the audience consisted of “older listeners who . . . simply prefer to hold purchases in their hands.”

I don't know about the Queen, but Mom does indeed hold purchases in her hands.  When she comes to visit, her iTouch is always loaded with great albums she's found that I’ve not heard before:   Marian McPartland, Duke Ellington on solo piano, Gene Harris and Scott Hamilton.  When she comes this spring, she’ll bring Susan Boyle's, too, for, as she wrote from her iMac, “Her album is now available on iTunes and I have it! ^..^”


  1. Interesting, I never made the Elizabeth and Margaret connection. Go figure!

  2. Well, there is only one person who knows for sure what the connection is . . . perhaps she will provide a comment . . .

  3. Cybersr says:

    And I still hope that Susan Boyle will get to sing for the Queen. That would seem the ultimate dream come true for Susan. I must admit that when it happens, I, too, will be thrilled!

    As to the Elizabeth and Margaret connection, it might be from the happy hours I spent as a child playing with my Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret paper dolls which, when not busily engaged in some regal fantasy, lived in an empty cigar box.

    Sneer not at the seemingly unsuitable home for the two princesses. Once upon a time an empty cigar box was a much sought after repository for childhood treasures. With my siblings, I watched our grandfather closely as his cigar supply dwindled hoping to be first in line to claim the empty box.

    But I digress. At the time I chose Elizabeth and Margaret for my daughters'
    middle names I believed that it was in honor of Mrs. Elizabeth E. and Aunt Margaret. Now I realize that the names were, of course, in loving recollection of my royal playmates!

    The Queen Elizabeth, Susan Boyle and I connection will come full circle when Susan's serenade to Her Majesty appears on iTunes and I download the triumphant arias to my iTouch.

    Godspeed, Susan Boyle and God Save the Queen!

  4. well said... all of it. I pause over "holding purchases in their hands"... -E

  5. Being children of the anti-monarchy disposition and era we were suprised to find ourselves intruiged with last week's TV docs here in called "The Queen". These portray a version of her life set within the changing socio/political context of the last 50+ years.Partly the interest was also our history.Three episodes elicted, at first, sympathy for a Queen who dedicated much of her life to a demanding public role, clearly placing it above her private life-and in particular that of Margaret, Charles etc apparently to their detriment. Was that good or necessary? Why, indeed, did she chose to be Queen? And are "roles" performed best if people keep their personal life/feelings to themselves? Is that why they do it? Or more a fear of being vulnerable. That where there is an opening for power someone will always seize it, better to be the eating dog than the dog being eaten.The fear that makes this world a frightening and unkind place to be.

    Interesting then that Diana was the most loved and mourned -someone more open and "human".Is it that loss we all mourned?

    Yep, it raised some questions. But the last episode reminded me that these are the people who like terrifying and chasing foxes and watching them get ripped apart by dogs just for fun.So you have to ask yourself, who are they really?

    Yet,given what history shows, would Presidents be better? At least you have to be born into King/Queendom. And our monarchy is much more constrained since the Revolution when Charles 1 rightly got a severe haircut..

    As to Susan Boyle, I know little, except that, by our cultural definition, she is naturally "ugly" and since had a makeover to get her looking more like " a woman should"! A bad reflection on our cultural values yet, also greatly reassuring that there are clearly many who have shown that they place their value on her voice and the joy that brings them. Whether or not it would be my music, for that reason I say great on you all who bought her music-however you did it!Enjoy.

  6. Loved this post, but I think I loved reading "Cybersr's" comment even more! Is your gift for writing inherited? Or your technological skill, for that matter?

    I may have to give Susan Boyle's CD a listen. I certainly enjoyed the clip of her initial audition.

  7. I am advised on good authority that this Sunday, December 13, Susan Boyle will sing a duet with Elaine Paige on an ITV special, "I Dreamed a Dream: the Susan Boyle Story." In honor of that occasion, a clip has been added to this post in which the two singers sing in virtual side-by-side. (I think the "vs." titling is incorrect, but, nonetheless . . .)

  8. Regarding the Paige/Boyle sing-off clip, Susan Boyle is just priceless and has by far the more melodious voice! She is a treasure and I hope her next gig is to sing for the Queen.

  9. Yes, it's easy to get "sucked into" a season (or two)of American Idol. At this point the comments are as interesting as the post itself!


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