This began as just a simple link to a specific song that I liked and was largely unknown in the U.S. But then I realized it would help to put the song in context. And then I realized that the context had another context which some people might even recognize.
Years ago, I saw a musical on London's West End called, Charlie Girl. It had a ridiculous story -- something about winning the lottery, not wanting the money, two families trying to arrange a marriage, and a tomboy daughter the guy who won the lottery is to shy to go after. But it had a wonderful, fun score, written by David Heneker and John Taylor. Heneker wrote the score (by himself) of another British show, Half a Sixpence, which was a huge hit, came to Broadway, made Tommy Steele a star and was made into a big movie.
Not so oddly, perhaps, Charlie Girl, which came later, had a very similar plot to Half a Sixpence, though far lighter and without any of the deeper social context. Half a Sixpence, after all, was based on the novel, Kipps, written by H.G. Wells. (Exactly who you usually think of, I'm sure, when musical comedy comes to mind.) There was another similarity -- even less coincidental, I'm sure: Tommy Steele had been a rock 'n' roll star before doing Half a Sixpence. For Charlie Girl, they hired Joe Brown as the male star-- and he, too, had previously been a rock star. I guess, when you've got a formula... Well, it worked. Though Half a Sixpence was a much better show, and a big hit -- Charlie Girl was sill a much bigger hit. In fact, it's still one of the longest running shows in West End history, running 2,202 performances. That's five years. Even with that success, it never came to Broadway. I'm sure it's because the story was so silly and so British, they figured it wouldn't have transferred well. They'd have been right.
By the way, that's what leads to the other context. If the name Joe Brown is familiar to you (especially for being such an ordinary one), it might be because you saw the documentary, Concert for George, the memorial tribute to George Harrison. When I said Joe Brown was a rock 'n' roll star, it was no exaggeration -- in the Beatles early days, they were the opening act for him! They stayed friends for years. And he was such good friends with Harrison that, for the tribute concert, Joe Brown is the fellow who got to close the evening with "I'll See You in My Dreams" and "Here Comes the Sun." That, my friends, regardless of the really big names who performed earlier, is the Star Position.
The two matriarchs in Charlie Girl were played by British film star Anna Neagle (who my dad especially wanted to see -- and he was so disappointed that she was out on vacation the night we had tickets) and Hy Hazell, a wonderful performer who was sort of the British version of Ethel Merman. Christine Holmes played Charlie.
As I mentioned, although the story was silly, the lighthearted score was extremely entertaining. This isn't just from memory, I've listened to it countless times over the years.
Which brings us to the original point of this whole thing. There's one particular number in the show that I've always thought should have been recorded as a country song, And still do. "My Favourite Occupation." Years later, even after I moved to Los Angeles -- even to this day -- I've always kept my eyes open if I ever became friendly with a country singer, I'd recommend it. But for all this time, no such luck. The arrangement would have to be changed, of course, though not all that much.
This is the song, sung by Joe Brown. A would-be country music hit -- from a London West End musical. If you don't like country music or musicals, this certainly won't be for you. But for those who like a nice, gentle ballad, here finally is "My Favourite Occutation.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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