Sunday, April 3, 2016

Lonnie Donegan – "Puttin' On the Style" (1957)

Puttin’ on the style
That's what all the young folks
Are doing all the while

(Not just the young folks, of course.)

The last 2 or 3 lines was an ill-tempered rant directed at British actor Damian Lewis.

This 2 or 3 lines is an ill-tempered rant directed at British actors Jim Carter and Phyllis Logan.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

You Downton Abbey fans out there may recognize those names – Carter plays the butler on that show (Mr. Carson) and Logan plays the housekeeper (Mrs. Hughes).  I understand that those two characters got married in season five of the show.

Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes
I have never watched Downton Abbey, but I did watch Upstairs, Downstairs back in the day.  As you may recall, Hudson – the butler – married Mrs. Bridges – the cook – in the last episode of that show.  

I hesitate to say anything negative about Downton Abbey given that many of my readers – especially those of the distaff persuasion – are big fans of the show. 

Actually, I hesitate to say anything negative about anything.  It never fails to amaze me how seriously people take 2 or 3 lines.  Anytime I write anything critical or sarcastic, you wouldn’t believe the tsouris – not to mention the mishegoss.  (More on all that in a later 2 or 3 lines.)

Mr. Carter and Ms. Logan were featured in a brief “The Talk of the Town” piece in a recent New Yorker.  Both of them sound like insufferable twits:

Logan gave precise orders for the making of her tea – “Several teabags, and a jug of cold milk,” she said, as if instructing a neophyte kitchen maid – while Carter ordered bacon.  “Not so crispy that it disintegrates when you look at it – I want it to put up a bit of a fight,” he told the waiter.

Jim Carter and Phyllis Logan enjoying
their very posh breakfast
Logan and Carter were having breakfast at the Lambs Club, a very swishy Manhattan restaurant, while discussing the need for income redistribution and generally decrying the state of the world:   

“The divides between the haves and the have-nots are grotesque . . . . Here we are in New York – [where] there must be a state law that says you can’t be more than five feet from food at any point, and half the world is starving,” Carter added.

(By the way, a continental breakfast at the Lambs Club runs $29, while a full American breakfast with bacon will set you back $40.  Hash browns will add another eight bucks to your tab.)

The conversation then took an odd turn:

“I think we’ll all become insectivores,” Logan said.  “Seriously, I’ve eaten insects – they are very tasty.  It was in Africa.  They were cooked up with a bit of salt and chili – delicious.  I could quite happily live on insects.”

Carter’s bacon and Logan’s eggs arrived.  “I said soft, not raw.” she muttered, as the waiter departed.

What’s next for Carter and Logan (who were obviously born without an irony gene)?

Post-“Downton,” Logan expects to take a break.  “I am hanging fire until the right thing grabs me,” she said.  Carter is devoting his energies to a charity called WandAid.  “It’s like BandAid, but with magic,” he said.  He’s already done refugee camps in Calais, he explained, and reeled off skills not called upon at Downton:  “I used to be a good tightrope walker, good juggler.  Unicyclist.  Stilt walker.”  He’s also making a documentary about Lonnie Donegan, the pioneering British pop musician. 

Lonnie Donegan
Lonnie Donegan’s most famous record was “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor (On the Bedpost Overnight),” which was a top ten hit in both the United States and the UK in 1959.  It’s a horrible song, so instead I’m featuring Donegan’s 1957 hit, “Puttin’ On the Style" (which is also horrible, but less so).

John Lennon was a big Lonnie Donegan fan, and his first band – the Quarrymen – performed this song at a church fête in a Liverpool suburb on July 6, 1957, just hours after Lennon had met Paul McCartney for the first time.

Here’s Lonnie Donegan’s “Puttin’ On the Style”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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