The Politically Incorrect Show - 24/10/2000
[Music - Die Fledermaus]
Good afternoon, Kaya Oraaa & welcome to the Politically Incorrect Show on the free speech network, Radio Pacific, for Tuesday October 24, proudly sponsored by Neanderton Nicotine Ltd., the show that says bugger the politicians & bureaucrats & all the other bossyboot busybodies who try to run our lives with our money; that stands tall for free enterprise, achievement, profit, & excellence, against the state-worshippers in our midst; that stands above all for the most sacred thing in the universe, the liberty of the human individual.
[Music up, music down!]
On this day, the 23rd of October in New York, fifty years ago at 10.30pm, the lights on Broadway were turned off & traffic in Times Square came to a halt. No, this was not a real-life precursor to Ayn Rand's fictional Atlas Shrugged, where statism & mediocrity-worship were progressively extinguishing the neon glories of civilisation. Quite the opposite - it was the entertainment world's mark of respect to a singing giant, whose voice had just been stilled. Al Jolson was dead. He had just returned from entertaining the troops in Korea, where, at the age of 64, he had performed 42 shows in 14 days.
I quote from an e-mail I received from a Jolson fan, reminding me of the anniversary:
"Al Jolson is known as the World's Greatest Entertainer and that title has not been disputed even to this day. He has been credited with a number of firsts as follows:
"He starred in the first movie incorporating sound, The Jazz Singer, made in 1928. He was the first to take a show on the road. He used a runway from the stage into the audience, copied later by modelling agencies. He was the first entertainer to appear on television, one of the first to cut an L.P. and he was the first entertainer to visit the troops in W.W.II and Korea. He also had a hit with the song Are you Lonesome Tonight? which he recorded in April 1950, ten years before Elvis. Elvis copied Jolson's rendering even to the extent of speaking some of the lyrics as Jolson did.
"There is a lot more that can be written about this great entertainer, now almost forgotten except for the devoted fans in the International Al Jolson Society."
Well, I hope it's not true that Al is now almost forgotten. He didn't have the world's greatest voice as such, but he was a consummate showman who sang with heart ... miles & miles & miles of it. Younger generations may find him trite & corny, but that's their loss. Anyone who can listen to Sonny Boy & not cry is missing something.
They should turn the lights on Broadway off again tonight in memory of Al Jolson - & in mourning for the innocent, joyous sentimentality that, but for a few others, died with him, as Atlas Shrugged turned from fiction into fact.
For my part, I'm going to mark the occasion now with, appropriately enough, the Anniversary Waltz. I dedicate this to my Mum & my late Dad. Thanks to them, Al Jolson was part of my childhood.
(Al Jolson - Anniversary Waltz.)
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