Monday, 12 November 2012

The 'Happy' Mash Up


Long before the term ‘mash up’  reached cultural significance in the early 21st century came a song which remains a long time favourite of mine. Performed on The Judy Garland Show in 1963, the song is the combination of Barbra Streisand’s cover of the popular American jazz standard Happy Days Are Here Again, and Judy Garland’s cover of Get Happy which she sang in the 1950 musical (and one of the best of its era) Summer Stock.

At the time of the song's recording, Streisand had released her cover earlier that year as part of her first album (recorded at the age of 21), which established her as a multi talented performer in a career which has lasted five decades. Garland, meanwhile was at the later stages of her decline, which ultimately led to her tragic death in 1969. In a sense one can envision Garland metaphorically passing the torch of diva superstardom midway through Happy and saying to Barbra “It’s yours now, treasure it”. Don’t believe me? One only has to look at the two versions of the same film: A Star is Born. The 1953 version was the last of Garland’s cinematic critical successes. The 1976 version represented Streisand at the peak of her fame. For the record I think the 1953 version is far superior.

The Happy Mash Up is the song that will be played at my funeral if given the choice. The suitably melodramatic arrangement is a wonderful counterpoint to the tenacious lyrics. Some make the mistake of thinking that this song is overwhelming positive, mostly with reference to the gay rights movement, but I take the mixture of melody and lyrics to be the ultimate expression of tenacious behavior. Even on my most cynical day (and there are many), I am determined above all else.

If however you play this version and think of me I will haunt you in your dreams forever.  

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