23 July 2010

We Go Way Back: Petula & Me


Though it's not pictured here, one of my favorite childhood records was a hand me down from my Mom.  It was a heavy rotation-worn 7 inch single of Petula Clark's classic "Downtown".  That girlish chirp, that spritely delivery... and those horns!  They always sounded to me like so many cars passing by on a busy, rain-slick New York City street.  Every note of her voice sounded like another one of the electric colors of billboards and theatre marquees reflected in the puddles on the blacktop.  In my mind's eye (though my record had no picture sleeve) I saw her as a mod gal in a shiny yellow raincoat, dancing down the sidewalk with arms spread as if embracing the whole city in her song... the swinging 1960s blonde I'd seen on The ABC 4:30 Movie... a good time lady who'd BEEN there, but was none the worse for it.

The record sleeves pictured here are ones I've acquired at numerous thrift shops since my first 45 RPM impression of Ms. Clark.  In hearing these, I am glad to say that she not only lived up to, but exceeded my expectations in every way with her unique, ageless gift.  Though some would say she was a "one hit wonder", I'm sure that if a person takes a listen to her back catalog, they'll find a stash of forgotten gems, ripe for rediscovery.  Thanks, Petula.