Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Fran Landesman R.I.P.

One has to mark the passing of a true original: Fran Landesman, songwriter, poet and performer [1927-2011], was born in New York and after success in America (where she was part of the beat scene) moved to London in the '60s with her husband Jay Landesman, where they became part of the bohemian set. I have several little volumes of her poems, and those wonderful lyrics like "Ballad of the Sad Young Men" (which Roberta Flack covered on her first album, and has also been recorded by Shirley Bassey), which like Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" is an anthem to the louche gay life, one of the well-known songs she wrote for jazz artists.

Other witty poems include well known items like "Is The Common Man Too Common?", "Invade My Privacy", "The Decline of the West" ["All the good tunes have been written, all the good songs have been sung..."], "After We've Gone" ["Who will live in our house, after we've gone..."], and that lovely poem about "Bogie" ["With his five o'clock shadow and his heart of pure gold he will always be Bogie and he will never grow old. She's a girl whose in trouble, all her nights are like years, she wears dresses of satin, and a necklace of tears. She was Ida or Ingrid until along came Bacall but he's always been Bogie and he's the king of them all"].

Like Dory Previn, Fran has been described as the poet laureate of the desperate and decadent! No one can convey the bitter-sweet joys of melancholy or the exhilaration of living on the edge quite like her. She took to performing in her later years and, like Mose Allison and George Melly, was an established artist on the jazz circuit. On "Desert Island Discs" she famously requested cannabis seeds as her essential luxury! - yes, one can grow old disgracefully ... Her husband died earlier this year; their son Cosmo is film reviewer for The Sunday Times.

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