December 25, 2013


A Marshmallow World (Mark Steyn, December 24, 2013, SteynOnline)

I didn't plan to do a Christmas single. It was a happy accident arising out of what was really a very minor bit of administrative confusion on an entirely different project that found me in London in September with a singer, an arranger, an orchestra and a bit of spare time on our hands. And I thought it would be fun as a postscript to the other, weightier business to do a seasonal song with Jessica, just as a little promotional giveaway for some of our clients - a kind of musical Christmas card, like the ones Johnny Mercer used to send out to distributors and record store owners every December when he was the executive honcho at Capitol. Jessica is a great mainstay of the West End stage - she's starred in Me And My Girl, South Pacific, Sweeney Todd and recently premiered the new Michel Legrand musical Marguerite. If memory serves, I first met her at Paddington Station many years ago when Cameron Mackintosh, flush from his success with Cats and Les Miserables and whatnot, inaugurated a chair of contemporary theatre at Oxford University and asked me to moderate the all-star workshops. So heading down to Oxford to chair a session on acting with Patti LuPone (currently on Broadway in Gypsy) and sometime Bond villain Jonathan Pryce, I bumped into Jessica and Cameron's mum on the platform at Paddington. In the Nineties, I helped write a one-woman show for her at the Edinburgh Festival, and she appeared as a guest on a terrible BBC celebrity quiz I used to host - parlor games, songs, jokes, that kind of thing. Jessica's a tremendous trouper and has been ever since she was a teenager singing with her dad's band at a club in Mayfair when Barbra Streisand walked in one night and Jessica decided to lurch through an impromptu medley of "The Way We Were", "People", "You Don't Bring Me Flowers", etc, to an ever more stony-faced Barbra. ("I thought she'd want to hear something she knew.") She's a terrific impressionist - she has a little Yuletide medley where she starts with Eartha Kitt doing "Santa Baby" and works her way through Streisand, Julie Andrews et al - but I've always loved Jessica singing in her own voice, so I said to her, "Fancy a duet on 'Marshmallow World'?" And next thing you know, there we were at the Angel Studios on a dismal grey day in Islington rhapsodizing about meteorological joys north London rarely enjoys:

Oh, the world is your snowball
See how it grows
And that's how it goes
Whenever it snows...

And you know, with the band behind you, fully loaded with sleigh bells and glockenspiels, it's hard not to believe that's so.

Posted by at December 25, 2013 9:52 AM

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