posted 10/14/05 01:56 PM Central Time (US) no email address given
I thought this was a very nice way to remember Bing on both the 10th and now the 28th anniversary of his death.
The cool, easy-going Bing by Glenn Russell
It was the afternoon of Oct. 14, 1977. I was driving to the grocery story and my car radio was playing. Suddenly, right in the middle of a commercial, the station cut in with the booming voice of Bing Crosby singing his signature song "Where the Blue of the Night Meets the Gold of the Day." Simultaneously, a feeling of dread came over me. Then the announcer spoke the unthinkable words; Bing Crosby had collapsed and died on a golf course in Spain. I couldn't believe it. Bing was mortal after all. The totally laid back, cool, unshakeable, easy-going Bing, with his floppy ears, the guy with the most famous voice in the world, a voice that's etched indelibly on the soundtrack of the 20th century . . . was gone.
I was not alone in my grief. Millions of persons all over the world had been touched in one way or another by the first "crooner" who, 10 years after his passing, can still claim to have the two top selling records of all time . . . "White Christmas" and "Silent Night." And this statistic was accomplished in an era long before today's teenagers who gobble up rock recordings by the millions.
Bing's appeal was largely because of his completely relaxed, unruffled approach, indeed, when there was a profile shot of him, he could almost appear to have his eyes closed. When he was doing a song, it looked for the most part as if he were just throwing it away. And he never lingered with a tune, many times doing just a single chorus in a movie, which usually left you with the feeling that you wanted more . . . much more. He had such a complete ease about him that we all thought that we could sing like him, but of course, no one ever could.
If ever an artist belonged to his public, it was Harry Lillis Crosby, who wove his way into our hearts and became an integral part of our lives. There was a certain security just in knowing that there was a Bing Crosby who (it seemed) would always be there when we needed diversion from life's problems.
Strangely enough, however, Bing himself didn't fully comprehend the magnitude of his appeal. He always insisted, for instance, that none of his movies should list "Bing Crosby" as the main star, always making sure that his co-stars received equal billing. Bing's philosophy on this was that if the picture bombed, then Bing Crosby would share the blame with several others.
His accomplishments are legend, from his wild days with the Rhythm Boys and the Coconut Grove to his countless movie hits including the zany "Road" pictures with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour. Although Bing's thinning hair, protruding ears, and slight pudginess didn't fit the image of a Hollywood star, he had a magical screen presence which culminated with his Academy Award winning performance as Father O'Malley in "Going My Way." And don't forget his 20 gold records that established him as the top selling artist of all time.
Bing's personal favorite movie was "High Society" with Grace Kelly and it was the haunting "True Love" from that movie that was to be his last million-record seller. His favorite song was "I Can't Begin to Tell You" that he recorded with pianist Carmen Cavallaro. He sang this tune in his only appearance ever on the Johnny Carson show.
Bing was the role model for many singers and performers who followed him and they were not ashamed to express the following feelings about him:
"He was the father of my career . . . the idol of my youth . . . a dear friend of my maturity. He leaves a gaping hole in our music and in the lives of everybody who ever loved him, and that's just about everybody." Frank Sinatra
"Bing created a culture. He has contributed more to popular music than any other person . . . He moulded popular music . . . Every singer in the business has taken something from Crosby. Every singer has a Bing Crosby idiosyncracy." Tony Bennett
"We won't have to tell our grandchildren about the wonderful voice of Bing Crosby. We'll simply put on one of his records and they'll be able to hear for themselves." Perry Como
"The whole world loved Bing with a devotion that not only crossed international borders, but erased them. He was proof positive that you can replace a military uniform with a Hawaiian shirt and a pipe." Bob Hope
The comforting voice of Bing Crosby has been instantly recognized for over 50 years. He crooned his way into the hearts of millions of women and to war-weary GI's the sound of his voice was the sound of home. Thanks to the wonderful technological age that we live in, we can still turn to the Crosby that we've always known, to the fabulous recordings and films that Bing made.
On this 10th anniversary of his death, we can be grateful for this artist who brought so much enjoyment to all of us. A day doesn't go by that I don't slip one of his numbers on the stereo and for a while it seems that he really isn't gone.
Bing Crosby dead? I don't have to believe it if I don't want to.
posted 10/14/05 05:03 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
eleanor, great tribute to der bingle! you mentioned that "i can't begin to tell you" was his favorite song. funny, but it was that song that wove its way thru my mind when i heard of his death.
posted 10/15/05 08:45 AM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
I realize I'm a day late with this posting, but I did reflect on things yesterday, and it occurred to me that Bing died exactly the way he would have wanted to. I can't imagine what torture it would have been for him to linger as an invalid to age 100 like his friend Bob Hope. As much as he HATED people fussing over him, having round the clock nurses, etc., perish the thought!
Instead, he'd just finished a two week sellout engagement at the London Palladium, followed by a round of golf with some friends in Spain. Perfect exit. As my rotten cousin Gary said, "For Dad, even dying was easy." Just as it should have been.
By the way, Mr. Russell got it wrong in the above article. Bing's favorite song was "Stardust", the Hoagy Charmichal classic. He restated that on a BBC interview a week or so before his death. Prior to the song "Yesterday" by Lennon-McCartney, "Stardust" was recorded by more artists than any other song. Bing's 1931 version, however, remains the definitive version of the song.
posted 10/18/05 05:23 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
The anniversary of Bing's passing reminds me yet again how time flies. It's impossible to believe it's now been 28 years since Bing left us. To me it seems like yesterday. Thanks for sharing that lovely tribute.