I introduced Lady Lawanda1 aka Val Murdy, a talented singer who was the woman in my life for three years until her death in 2008, to a surprising number of songs that became special to her,2 including, most spectacularly, tracks from Anjani’s Blue Alert album3 and anything by Leonard Cohen.
But she also became enamored of musicians unknown or barely known to her, such as Southern Culture on the Skids (“Walk Like A Camel”), some of the more obscure Motown groups, Warren Zevon, Holly Cole, Bay City Rollers, Asleep At The Wheel, Lou Reed, Waylon and Willie, a batch of Twee groups, Modest Mouse, and, as I am fond of noting, many, many others. Heck, there were any number of hymns4 she learned from me rather than through the church choir in which she sang for years. She was enchanted enough with the Camp CYOKAMO song to record a version with some of her choir colleagues that is now the only rendition of that classic available on the Internet. And, of course, without me she might never have known the rapture one can achieve only from listening to “The Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun,” “Men in Tights,” “Teenage Mutant Kung Fu Chickens,” “What Would Brian Boitano Do?” and “Cows With Guns.” Without my help, how would she have been able to distinguish between the seven versions of “You Can Leave Your Hat On?”5
The point is that Lady Lawanda heard a lot of my music, but her choices were, well, her own.
And #1 on her Christmas Hit Parade was the cover of “Hard Candy Christmas” performed by RuPaul Andre Charles in his drag queen persona.
I admit that Lawanda’s fascination with this song seemed silly at first, but, on reflection, the lyrics of the chorus were, after all, a description of the way she lived.
I’ll be fine and dandy
Lord it’s like a hard candy Christmas
I’m barely getting through tomorrow
But still I won’t let
Sorrow bring me way down
So, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the Christmas/Winter Holiday Of Your Choice Season.
Hard Candy Christmas – RuPaul
Note: The original version of this entry (which has since been updated and edited) was posted Nov 29, 2008 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of AllanShowalter.com
- I cannot emphasize enough that “Lawanda” and “Lady Lawanda” were the blogonyms Val selected for herself. [↩]
- OK, I also introduced her to any number of songs about which she was less enthusiastic. Several unrequited efforts to enlist her as a fan of certain Grand Ole Opry stars from the 1950s come to mind. [↩]
- Lawanda chose “Nightingale” from Blue Alert for her memorial service [↩]
- Yes, hymns – I know a lot of hymns. Why does that seem unbelievable to everyone? [↩]
- The original by Randy Newman and the covers by Tom Jones, Ty Herndon, Joe Cocker, Garou, Eric Clapton, and Etta James. [↩]