Saturday, August 08, 2015

Bookmarks: Cilla Black

Andy Medhurst's piece on Cilla Black concedes she was square, but suggests that was her superpower:

In many ways, her achievements were most notable for establishing continuities between different eras. Despite being vaulted into prominence by the earthquake of Merseybeat, which shook a nation out of post-war deference by insisting on the new, the now and the young, she was within a few years drawing on entertainment codes honed in earlier decades. This led some to lament her supposed co-option by conservatism but the shift now looks more shrewd: a fusion of novelty and tradition that fashioned her into the unlikeliest of hybrids, a pop art Gracie Fields.


Robin Carmody said...

Ah yes, the same Andy Medhurst who once (when it looked as if the BBC would be scaled down to a Himalayan Option, the first time) suggested, in a eulogy for Simon Bates, that the vocal music played on Radio 3 being "in foreign languages" was *in itself* a case against it ...

I think we might get an idea here of why, by my own admission, I felt relatively little when Cilla died compared to how I know a lot of other people felt; I don't have that kind of atavistic feeling for the common people, not least because I don't think you can have that feeling without, at least, being prepared to cut Europhobia a lot more slack than I am.

Robin Carmody said...

The Gracie Fields comparison is spot on, though; it's precisely how she was so loved, even in the first incarnation, despite blatantly not being able to sing. I tend to prefer "Conversations" and "If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind" (the latter being the one Agnetha covered) to the more obvious, crowd-pleasing hits; they have an ominous melancholy about them apt for the moment they were released, when the first seeds for the political diversion of the working class were planted.

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