Another flame has been put out.
I was watching Access Hollywood or Entertainment Tonight the other night, I only watch the classics, and they were doing a story on Estelle Getty’s funeral and how none of her co-stars from the Golden Girls had shown up for the services. Of course what the reporter failed to mention that even though Estelle had played the mother on the show and that she was 84 when she died and was actually the youngest member of the group, which makes the others somewhere close to 90 if not more. Now I don’t know about the reporter, but I know I wouldn’t want to have a family member over 90 flying across country on a day’s notice. And you know it was a day’s notice because Ma was Jewish and had to be buried within a certain time. Two days I think, but I’m not sure.
Estelle’s claim to fame was of course from TV, but she had also played another mother to acclaim in the play Torch Song Trilogy, a play or movie that I have never seen. The title had always intrigued me. I had known what a trilogy was. It meant that the play had 3 separate stories in it and there would be something to link all 3, but I had never known what was meant by a torch song. But it wasn’t that big a deal for me, so I must have put it in the back of head figuring that it would be something that I would look up as soon as I got the time or more importantly the interest.
Last year however, I was listening to NPR’s podcast on This American Life, I just love that show, better than cable some weeks, and they were talking a girl who’s boyfriend had left her on New Years Day and she had been so devastated that she wanted a write a song about it and how when the ex had heard it, he would realize his mistake and go running back to her. Somehow or other after she had written it, she had been able to get in touch with Phil Collins and record a phone conversation with him. He listened to her song and gave a certain amount of false praise then he told her of how he had written a torch song, Against All Odds when his wife had left him and it had actually kicked started his solo career.
Torch Song, Against All Odds …?
“So take a look at me now, who has just an empty space
And there's nothing left here to remind me,
just the memory of your face…”
Suddenly it clicked. All of those songs that I had grown up with or had heard 10 years after they had been written and that I sung to myself privately under my breath, the ones that I was in love with since my days of late pubescence, were torch songs.
Touch me in the morning and then just walk away."
"If you see me walking down the street
and I start to cry each time we meet."
"I try to say goodbye and I choke
Try to walk away and I stumble
Though I try to hide it, it's clear
My world crumbles when you are not near"
And I’m not even talking about the old standards like My Funny Valentine, The Man I love or Someone to Watch over Me.
They were all torch songs. Songs that spoke of love or lack of love or trying to get love back. Songs that made me feel a certain way or an uncertain longing for something just outside my reach, a sense of loneliness. A sense that someone else could write about but I could never express.
Last year was when I realized that I was living with a sense of despondency, I was living a torch song and it was no longer pretty. So I said to the dancer that I had thought that we could have become friends but now I saw it was a silly idea on my part and that I didn’t think that we would ever see each other again. He protested asking me how could determine the future and I told him that there would always be a feeling for him and I said “you’ll always be a part of me.” And with that I burst into laughter and collapsed to the floor. I couldn’t even break up a supposed friendship without breaking into Dionne Warwick. Of course he didn’t understand since I didn’t explain. Probably still thinks of me as evil and wicked, but that’s life or as I’ve heard Curtis say, it is what it is.
A torch song.