Not sure where my original post went that I did yesterday to celebrate the incredible Elaine Stritch’s birthday… But here it is again.
I love unique, one of a kind performers. And Elaine is certainly in that class. Those people that are unlike anyone else in the world. That’s one reason why I’m never all that up to date on pop music today. All the big artists today start to sound the same to me. And it just isn’t my thing most of the time.
I have had such an long relationship with this song, and Elaine’s performance on the Original Broadway Cast recording. I think at the age of 8 or 9, I somehow was given an album of “great songs from Broadway” (imagine that? someone clearly saw tap shoes and a sense of fashion in my future).
Anyway, I remember listening to “Ladies Who Lunch” over and over and over again even at that age. Something, the imagery of ladies wearing hats, going to the theater, having cocktails in the middle of the afternoon – from the perspective of one woman’s sophisticated grit and drop-dead cynicism – was mesmerizing to me. The juxtaposition of the smooth, cool bossa nova accompaniment matched with Elaine’s edge and cutting sarcasm was clearly theatrical to me, even at that age.
Even at the age of 8 or 9, in Fort Worth Texas, I had a sense of this world – these ladies in airy, fake garden, faux-chic lunch spots. Women dressing up, being on committees, going to country clubs even though no one really played golf or tennis. “Rushing to their classes in optical art, wishing it would pass.” Going shopping in department stores that looked like what we saw on TV – with hats that no one ever bought displayed elegantly and mannequins displaying reserved, frozen, laissez faire “hands and wrists flipped up” poses.
I think my perspective and connection was heightened somehow by the fact that my own mother had died a few years before, so I was really watching and observing women that I “knew” but really didn’t know. It was like watching a show. It all seemed cool and glamorous in some way, but even at my young age I remember the sense of detachment. The world was spinning past them, and so many were trying to just keep up.
It sounds sad, but I love the feeling I get when I think of those days. It’s part of the movie in the mind of a then young man. And this song was the soundtrack to many scenes. Here’s to the ladies who lunch.
And to Elaine. Everybody rise.