Thursday, January 28, 2016

Julie Andrews and the email I couldn't ignore...

I have an elderly uncle who likes to send me religious and political bullshit emails.  I never read most of the stuff he sends me because a lot of it is offensive.  He often sends mass forwarded emails that are sexist, racist, or anti-Muslim.  Yet, even though he sends me these messages that I almost never read, I do love him.  He's my uncle and he's often a lot of fun despite his extremely conservative and occasionally racist political views.

Last night, he sent me an email that I didn't immediately delete and ultimately couldn't ignore.  It was about Dame Julie Andrews, a woman whose career I have admired for many years.  Before last night, I had never seen this mass email about a remake of the song "My Favorite Things", which Julie Andrews sang in the iconic film version of The Sound of Music.  The email claims that Julie Andrews performed this bastardized version of "My Favorite Things" on the occasion of her 79th birthday at Radio City Music Hall.

Botox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Cadillacs and cataracts, hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the pipes leak, When the bones creak,
When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don't feel so bad.

Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Back pain, confused brains and no need for sinnin',
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin',
And we won't mention our short shrunken frames,
When we remember our favorite things.

When the joints ache, When the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,

Then I remember the great life I've had,
And then I don't feel so bad.


(Ms. Andrews received a standing ovation from the crowd that lasted over four minutes and repeated encores. Please share Ms. Andrews' clever wit and humor with others who would appreciate it.)

I have to admit, I thought the lyrics were cute enough.  However, I instantly knew the email was utter bullshit.  Why?  Because Julie Andrews has not been able to sing since 1997, when she underwent surgery to remove non cancerous nodes on her vocal cords.  She went under the knife for a routine procedure and woke up with her magnificent voice forever ruined. 

I suppose I could have sent my uncle a link to Snopes.com which confirmed my suspicions about the email.  Instead, I wrote back a quick reply that read "Julie Andrews has not been able to sing since 1997.  Her voice was ruined by a botched surgery.  Clever lyrics, though."  

According to Snopes, this bullshit email about Julie Andrews has been making the rounds for many years.  Apparently, the rumor got started in 2001 on a USENET newsgroup post.  The actual author of the remade lyrics remains a mystery, at least to me.  But rest assured, Julie Andrews never sang this adulterated song at Radio City or anywhere else in public.

Maybe my uncle won't appreciate my terse correction, but I get so tired of reading this kind of bullshit.  Usually, it's emails about George Carlin and Bill Cosby that get spread.  I get annoyed enough when I read about things being falsely attributed to them, especially George Carlin, who is one of my personal idols.  

As a fellow singer, I also have great empathy for Julie Andrews.  I can't even imagine how devastating it must have been for her to lose her remarkable voice.  I saw my dad lose his ability to sing and I know it depressed him.  Linda Ronstadt has also lost her ability to sing owing to Parkinson's Disease.  Singing is such a personal, emotional thing and for Julie Andrews and Linda Ronstadt, it was a source of livelihood.  I imagine for singers of their caliber, losing the ability to sing would be akin to someone smashing the hell out of a Stradivarius with a sledgehammer.

To their collective credit, Julie Andrews and Linda Ronstadt have been able to use their other gifts.  Andrews has even said losing her singing voice caused her to have to find other ways to use it.  Not long ago, I read Linda Ronstadt's life story, which I enjoyed.  On the other hand, I'm sure if you asked either of these women if they would have chosen to lose the ability to sing, they'd probably say no.  

So yeah... while it's easy enough for me to ignore stupid emails about politics and rantings about Muslim refugees from Syria, I couldn't ignore this thoughtless one about Julie Andrews and her alleged performance at Radio City. Please, for the love of all that's holy, check Snopes before you forward this kind of stupid crap. There's enough ignorance in the world today without adding more tragic falsehoods like this one. Your friends and family will thank you.

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