Sunday, May 17, 2009

Reflections on Sandie Shaw


Early this morning (Sunday) in Moscow, Norway won the 54th Eurovision Song Contest. Norway has therefore much to celebrate. However, before getting too carried away, Norwegians should remember that the Norwegian singer, Alexander Rybak, who won with his song, Fairytale, is in fact an ethnic Belarussian, notwithstanding his growing up in Norway.

How more deliciously the people of Norway might have savoured Alexander Rybak's triumph (and Norway's) had his name been Lars Amundsen or Knut Kjellberg, or some such. But who says life's perfect?

This 54th Eurovision Song Contest has reminded me that I've thought little of this annual event since that halcyon spring evening of 1967, when I watched on television, for the only time, the Eurovision Song Contest of that year, in which Britain triumphed, when Sandie Shaw knocked 'em all dead with "Puppet on a String":



Even allowing that this was in almost antediluvian 1967, I find it still difficult to see how "Puppet on a String" knocked the Europeans so dead, that they didn't give the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest award to France's entry for that year, "La maison où j'ai grandi", sung by the exquisite Françoise Hardy, about whom, and the song, I devoted this recent posting.

To repeat what I had said in that posting, compared to "La maison où j'ai grandi", "Puppet on a String" is insipid. To give Sandie Shaw credit, she, herself, didn't think much of "Puppet on a String", but allowed her handlers to cajole her into singing it, and entering it in the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest to revive her already faltering singing career. Sandie Shaw's handlers obviously knew their European audience, and so knew that their audience's appreciation of the aesthetics of music had become as aetiolated as that of their North American brothers and sisters.

As it was, Sandie Shaw never had another #1 hit after "Puppet on a String".

Now, for a good song from Sandie Shaw, here's one from 1965, "Long Live Love":


I'm sure you see, as did I, that "Puppet on a String" is to "Long Live Love"; as "God Save the Queen" is to "Land of Hope and Glory". The above video of "Long Live Love" is singular because Sandie Shaw - instead of looking happy, as singers singing are supposed to - looks downright morose; and the video's other features, like the nondescript man lounging about in a cardigan, and the decor's general air of unkemptness, make us feel as if we're in a dream.

Also, Sandie Shaw in the video sings with no shoes. This might be why she looks morose, for it can't be comfortable singing, while walking around with no shoes. On the other hand, there are other extant videos of her singing and walking around with no shoes, but she's smiling and all of that. Think too, that Sandie Shaw was known as "the barefoot pop princess of the 1960s". Which means it was her thing to sing, and walk around with no shoes. We can assume, then, that she wanted not to wear shoes because she liked not to.

So her looking morose in the video of "Long Live Love", likely had less to do with her wearing no shoes, than with her perhaps having had a bad night, or that she was striving for, like, authenticity, for, feeling morose is more normal with most of us, than feeling happy.

I've banged on for long enough about Sandie Shaw's not wearing shoes on her feet. However, I'll just add that, in August 2007, Sandie Shaw revealed that she had had corrective surgery on her feet, which she said were "ugly". It wasn't until October that same year (2007) that she could walk normally again.

I don't know, though, whether this was without, or with, shoes.