Things Like That Don’t Happen to People Like Us

<i>Charleston</i> released on Roulette Records 1957 Bonnie’s debut album on Roulette RecordsArrangements by Stu Phillips.

Truly, this is Tin Pan Alley’s best Mulligan song, and those Tin Pan Alley boys were responsible for some of the best of them all.

BYE BYE BLACKBIRD, vocal by Bonnie Alden

Words by Mort Dixon, music by Ray Henderson. Jerome H. Remick & Co. copyright 1926

Each of us in our little (Bonnie, Jimmy, Roger, Me) family has Second Acts.  I think we even have maybe three acts apiece, like a good old-fashioned play — like, you know, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf ? or The Little Foxes.  Which is not to say that our last acts have ended/will end happily.   All we can do is keep bringing the curtain up time after bloody time, and try not to forget our lines or bump into the scenery.

Bonnie was almost out of steam on her Act Two by this time she made this album, 1957. She was already trying to get pregnant with me, getting ready to Take A Breather for a little motherhood, as most broads did during that particular moment in history.  I can’t for a moment believe she was totally ready to bail on the Show Business at this particular moment in her career and her personal Act Two.  No, not at the deepest, most shameful place in her yearning, craving heart.  And I can’t for a moment believe walking away from her career was a voluntary, lateral move — oh, no, not after getting this close to the Gold Ring — that is,  the carousel-metaphor-Gold Ring,  which was not usually a girl’s first choice of Ring, back in the middle of that century.  Bonnie seems to have had both kinds of Ring simultaneously, lucky girl, and kept them reasonably well-juggled at this point: a handsome husband at her beck and call (except when he wasn’t, more on that anon), nightclub bookings at the Persian Room… (was it actually the Persian Room at the Plaza? Or the Peacock Alley at the Waldorf?  Do I remember it wrong or was it Bonnie herself creatively mis-remembering?)

Listen to that great big gorgeous orchestra behind her. I still have the band charts for that arrangement. Can you imagine our Bonnie was in any way happy to relinquish that extraordinary oceanwave of sound that was all for her? As an even swap for the sounds of a baby and an empty apartment?

After this musical adventure Bonnie hunkered down into the motherhood thing until 1972 or so.  She did it quite well, all things considered, but I think she spent the rest of her life looking back at this existential segue in 1957,  playing Bye Bye Blackbird in a boop-boop-ee-doopey, Helen Kane voice, over and over in her head with a million different What Ifs singing along.

Ooops.

I know.  I’ve skipped a lot of Plot Development. I will go back — I will –I’ll  fill you in with How Bonnie Gets Herself Out of Act One, I promise.

But since Bonnie’s birthday was on Valentine’s Day and I didn’t pay much attention to it, I thought a little upbeat Coming Attraction trailer-esque post might be a festive tribute, better late than never, right?

PLUS! And lastly, a call to arms.

It isn’t every day one finds out one’s actual mother is on iTunes. http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/charleston/id333466074

AUX ARMES, CITOYENS!

Friends of the Almost Famous! Supporters of Also-Rans! Partakers of Sloppy Seconds! Contenders that Coulda Been!

Do this for every time you’ve wondered what you would leave behind, that wasn’t just Stuff.

Go to iTunes and buy yourself an adorable 1920’s novelty number as arranged by Stu Phillips for my mother, Roulette Records’ hot young recording artist BONNIE ALDEN in 1957.  For 99 cents (I’ll pay you back, OK?) you can make my mother a little bit more famous than she was.  I have no idea who gets the money and I wish them the very best with it.

I just wish they had used the artwork from the album. I still have the contact sheets from her photo session.  Nobody who was even slightly connected to the copyrights represented by images or information on that album cover is alive to give a damn, and Bonnie would have been absolutely delighted.

Bonnie would have loved the Internet.



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