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“VOICES SOFT AS THUNDER” April 19, 2009

Posted by wmmbb in Humankind/Planet Earth.
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Susan Boyle has become an internet-You Tube phenomenon. One site now has over 25.4 million hits.

I found out about her at Tom Peters. He said he responded emotionally, and perhaps I did at first as well, but now I look at the lyrics, consider her phasing and compare her to other singers, including Elaine Paige, I think she is very good. The critics on the television program to their credit knew that straight away.

Tanya Gold, at The Guardian, takes the grounded, sceptical view:

Is Susan Boyle ugly? Or are we? On Saturday night she stood on the stage in Britain’s Got Talent; small and rather chubby, with a squashed face, unruly teeth and unkempt hair. She wore a gold lace dress, which made her look like a piece of pork sitting on a doily. Interviewed by Ant and Dec beforehand, she told them that she is unemployed, single, lives with a cat called Pebbles and has never been kissed. Susan then walked out to chatter, giggling, and a long and unpleasant wolf whistle.

Why are we so shocked when “ugly” women can do things, rather than sitting at home weeping and wishing they were somebody else?

I suspect that good songs sing themselves. I think it is Susan Boyle’s song selection and self knowledge, with a determination to be herself that is crucial. It is not just musical intelligence, although it is that as well that she possesses.

She is authentic and the lyrics speak through her in ways that do not hold for more glamorous and younger people.

Here are the Lyrics(Thanks to NewHotdox) – Fantile sings them in Les Miserables, the musical as distinct from Victor Hugo’s novel of the 1832 Paris Uprising. Wikipedia to rescue again with the background history.

(Socrates said somewhere, as I recall, in relation to the invention of writing, sans context, that it would give the appearance of learning rather than the reality. Now I discover that apparently Socrates could neither read nor write. Such people have to have a good memory.)

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high,
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving.

Then I was young and unafraid
When dreams were made and used,
And wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung,
No wine untasted.

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hopes apart
As they turn your dreams to shame.

And still I dream he’ll come to me
And we will live our lives together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms
We cannot weather…

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living
So different now from what it seems
Now life has killed
The dream I dreamed.

UPDATE:

The hit count now (5pm AEST) is 32.7 million, from one site. The good thing is that success may well translate into well deserved financial returns for Susan Boyle.

All the cockatoos that I see around here, or have ever seen, are white cockatoos. Nowra, a town further south, is the local Aboriginal word for black cockatoo. So Susan Boyle is a Black Swan, made possible by the responses of viewers and that strange invention, the internet, with some help, it seems, from the infotainment machine and the twitters of some – unknown to me – celebrities. Tom Peters might in some circles be considered as a celebrity. I am tempted, but I will not speculate on the nature and character of celebrities, which presumably included the television program judges, who I did not know about and was none the worst off for that.

Was Susan Boyle’s surprising success a Black Swan? Here Nassim Taleb sets out the conditions for such an event:

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Comments»

1. oorvi - April 19, 2009

That’s a sad song:( I guess you are right. The song with those lyrics could be sung to create more impact by someone who didn’t look like she stepped out of a fairytale.

Oorvi.

2. oorvi - April 19, 2009

I watched the video. It’s beautiful. Thanks.

Oorvi

3. wmmbb - April 19, 2009

Thanks again, Oorvi.

I wonder what happens now to Susan Boyle. I notice the hit count on the linked video is now over 29 million. I have watched it six or seven times, and I continue to be struck by her timing.

As well, I have watched some more established singers, and while they are very good, I am less impressed with them.

4. oorvi - April 21, 2009

You are right Mr. wmmbb,

Cameo too feels that timing had a lot to do with that song’s success. We are right in middle of a recession – and almost everyone is feeling low…so the song struck the right chord with most of us:)

Licks n wags,
Oorvi

5. wmmbb - April 21, 2009

The Prime Minister said we will experience “recession” and the Federal Treasurer that we are due for “negative growth”.

I had heard that India was weathering the worldwide “global financial crisis” better than most. I was hopeful that was the case.

Still, I think the sun will be shining for Ms Boyle even in gloomy Scotland.

6. Oorvi - April 23, 2009

So is the official word:-(

TCS, the biggest (annual turnover of more than USD 2Bln) and the most traditional of the Indian software companies is laying off people (at the middle-management level.) The Tatas have a reputation of never laying off people – Joining Tatas was considered to be like marriage.

Jet Airways is leasing out 40% of its fleet and stopping international flights (and this was the biggest private airline operator in India) – People aren’t flying abroad – they are cutting costs.

The tenants on the floors below Mercury n Cameo’s office – are moving out – business is low, they can’t cover the rent:(

At the ground level – I am not sure if we are weathering the global financial crisis any better. But then my canine sense of the political kind tells me that the official word is more due to the elections than anything else. Let’s wait and see if the official word changes in June, when the new govt. comes in.

Sun does shine for some, even when it’s dark for most – this is also true for a gentleman we know. He was not expecting his low-rent-paying tenant to ever vacate his building – but because their business shrunk – they vacated his building…he’s been dancing the Bhangra since then:)

We hope that the Sun comes up for us too (not literally though…it’s scorching hot with the temperature at around 42 degrees Celsius.)

Licks n wags,
Oorvi

7. wmmbb - April 23, 2009

Thanks for the update, Oorvi.

Some businesses will be more exposed than others, and as you say there is additional uncertainty regarding the post-election compositon of the government.

I hope Mercury and Cameo get by. Since it is that hot, may be a floor fan, or plenty of water is in order.


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