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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Saturday, April 18, 2009

In Case You Haven't Seen Her Yet...

By now I suppose even Osama Bin Laden in a cave somewhere has seen Susan Boyle on "Britain's Got Talent." I wanted to "embed" the video here but the dozens of clips are all incapable of embedding by request, so if you have not seen the clip you'll have to CLICK HERE to see the long version. And Click here to see a shortened version.

Come back afterwards.

Some observations about this phenomenal story:

First of all this is a live weekly show in the U.K., and so is "American Idol" here in the states. This means that Simon Cowell must fly back and forth each week to do both shows. That is remarkable considering the nine-hour time difference between England and L.A. No wonder he is sometimes a bit cranky when he's in the Pacific Time Zone. But as you saw in the Youtube clip, Simon is never more charming than when he has been truly charmed.

Of the two TV shows, I like the U.K. title far better than ours. I know many people detest these "talent search" shows. but I'm speaking only of the titles. "American Idol" says it all. As a culture, we tend to want and create "idols." We prop them up, worship them, and cast them aside for new idols as our feelings and selfish needs change. Scripture says a lot about this human flaw. [Click here and keep hitting the "next" button at the bottom to see all 172 warnings against idols.]The Bible also tells us the story of the "talents." It was monetary unit back then. We use the word differently now, but our meaning clearly comes from the Biblical story.

My Mom taught us a Sunday School song when we were kids that went like this:

You have a talent. .... [C-A-G-F-C] (Notes in brackets.)
Use it for the Lord. ....[D-F-E-D-C]
If you do not use it, ...[C-C-F-E-E-D]
you will surely lose it. [D-D-G-F-F-E]
You have a talent. .....[C-A-G-F-C]
Use it for the Lord. ....[D-F-E-G-F]

That's why whenever I hear the word "talent" (as in Britain's Got Talent) it implies that whatever talents we may have were given to us to be used. Whereas "American Idol" is audience-driven. Sure it's based on talent, but its title implies that the audience is in the process of propping up its next "idol" to cry out to, to draw near to, to reach up to, to admire and adore, etc. See what I mean? It's an awful lot like worship if you think about it.

Secondly, I must admit I was moved by Susan Boyle's story as it was reflected in this song. She seems content with her simple life of met-needs but unafraid to reach for one really big dream to tuck into her brown paper bag. Such courage and contentment is a gift in itself...her voice is the frosting on the cake.

I was sad to hear that she'd recently lost her mother who also shared this dream for her. Susan Boyle had never heard of "Youtube" last week, and now her Youtube clip has received over 100,000,000 hits (if you add up all the different versions of it) in just a matter of days. She has granted countless TV interviews in the six days since this story broke. Rumor has it that she will be on Oprah soon.

Thirdly, in spite of her skyrocketing stardom, critics have already said that if she hadn't been such a plain woman, her singing would have been deemed quite average. There may be some truth in that. But if you consider "singing" as communicative art, it is her common appearance, her untouched persona, and her confident vocal that makes her so endearing.

So I would disagree with those who say her first performance was a fluke and that she cannot possibly live up to the hype in the weeks to come. First of all, Susan says she "took voice" at Livingston (I'm not sure what that means, but she does.); second, her fellow Scotts speak highly of her singing at previous unrecorded talent shows; and my last bit of evidence is at this link. This is the same Susan Boyle singing "Cry Me a River" in 1999. She has a Linda Ronstadt voice. (Click here to see how Susan's 1999 song was recorded.) If she can sing like that, her talent will continue to surprise and WOW her audience week after week. And I hope the success and fame does not rob her of her frumpy charm. [I'm also guessing that Simon knew some of this before she sung, and he can't wait for her to bloom a little more each week.]

Added May 11: Here is another performance from Susan's past (25 years ago).

This is not the first time this British TV show has captured our hearts. We were won-over by a previous contestant on the show two years ago. I wrote about it here at Patterns of Ink. His name was Paul Potts. His story is different in that he is obviously a trained voice who truly "nails" his song, but this phone salesman struggled with stage fright and then got old enough to say, "Hey, What Have I got to lose" so he stepped out on the stage and here's what happened.

Next chapter coming soon...


Blogger the walking man said...

If ya never reach...ya never get to grasp the ring.

18/4/09 4:31 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

What I liked about both Susan and Paul was their desire to put aside their personal fears to use their tallent. What I liked about the audience response both times was they were responding to that gift and the courage to use it; they were not screaming about the person as if he or she was their next "idol." [I added the paragraph about talent vs. idol after you read this.]

18/4/09 7:34 AM  
Blogger Ang said...

Ryan and I have been humming little pieces of "I dreamed a dream..." all weekend.

We love this video too. And as I watched it for the first time, I totally fell for the story. I was ready to be angered by how she was going to be so embarrassed.

I almost cried at the line "I had a dream my life would be...so different from this hell I'm living, so different now from what it seems...."

Good story.

18/4/09 2:18 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

I've enjoyed the press on Susan this week. A very interesting lady indeed! I love your mom's talent song. I haven't a clue how it sounds because I can't tell a c note from a g note but I was able to pull a tune from my kindergarten bag and just sang it my way! I'm glad no one was listening but I enjoyed giving it a try!

Have a great weekend!

18/4/09 5:28 PM  
Blogger SusieQ said...

I loved the Susan story. I hope she gets that long awaited kiss... if she hasn't already.

18/4/09 6:18 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

It's been so long. Thanks for stopping by. I've been thinking about what it is that impressed me about this story. I think it's this: we are all tired of the packaging. On American Idol, they sometimes speak of the contestants as "marketable" or "You're the complete package" which being translated means: you have the looks, the swaggar, the "sexiness" AND the voice. That's how we want our stars to be. So why did Demi Moore cry? Same reason. This lady "never had a chance" because she doesn't have the package. That's why I used the term "brown paper bag," but that is exactly what I like about her. And I hope they don't ruin that aspect of her. She's the spinster aunt we all need.

I know enough about a piano keyboard to write the letters as I did. Ang (above) is our music teacher and she could transpose that little song into a symphony. I can imagine your version of the song with a bit of a NC southern twang. Speaking of accents. It is Susan's Scottish accent that adds to her charm, but in that "Cry Me a River" recording there is no accent at all. Interesting.

I think she is going to get a kiss from the first judge this week, but the kisses probably won't count until they come from Mr. Right, and it will be very hard to determine a "Mr. Right" in the glow of all this fame. I hope she takes her time in that department.

I think she'll be a bundle of nerves in round two. I think its her courage that inspires me the most.

18/4/09 9:29 PM  
Blogger David Cowser said...

I just found this 'patterns of ink' page and the thoughts you expressed are concise and to the point. Tom, this is great seeing you use your writing talents to drive a point home. As in the story of Susan, some of us back in college would not have seen you with the talent I see displayed here on 'patterns of ink.'

19/4/09 7:53 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

It's been over thirty years! So good to hear from you. How is your sister Esther?

Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words.

Way back in the archives (September of 2006) there is a piece called "Déjà vu"
that you will be able to relate to. (It's about my Phi "Beta Chi umbrella, which I still have).

I'll catch you up on this current story... It's about how my family transitioned from a small house in the suburbs to the house we built in the country, and in two chapters my sister Kathy leaves for college. You remember her, but I know you probably remember Dave best and he is in nearly every chapter. Good to hear from you, David!

19/4/09 9:20 PM  

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