It seems just perfect to me that a little redheaded 15 year old boy would be obsessed with a song filled with existentialist angst, a half spoken, half sung opus to disillusionment with life, even when the events are exceptional. The singer suggested that I "break out the booze & have a ball… if that's all …there is". I decided to take the singer’s advice. She also let me know that suicide was not an option, for even that would be a disappointment.
Lady & The Tramp was my favorite childhood Disney movie, & I especially loved singing the songs from the movie into the bathroom mirror as a tot. My parents suggested that I might also enjoy the recordings of Miss Peggy Lee, who had written the songs for the Disney movie, & had voiced several of the characters.
As a kid, I totally got into her albums: Black Coffee, Dream Street, & I Like Men!. But as I became a fan of The Beatles, The Supremes, & The Kinks, I forgot my parental unit's album collection & favored my own. I heard Is That All There Is? on the radio in 1969 & was entranced. I bought the single & played it over & over, sometimes stealing little sips of my father’s whiskey from the forbidden liquor cabinet. I was back to listening to Peggy Lee.
Peggy Lee was a singer, a songwriter, an actress & an innovator. Her popular music is a map to the best of jazz, blues, swing, Latin, & rock. She & recorded over 650 songs & released 60+ albums. Best known for her smooth, sultry 1958 cover of the R&B hit- Fever, in spring 2010, Peggy Lee is back on the Billboard Top 100 album chart for the first time since 1970 with the release of the Starbucks compilation- Come Rain or Come Shine. The album is # 51 on the pop charts, #2 on the jazz charts.
Peggy Lee was one of the few of the traditional pop singers to embrace the songs of the Beatles, Randy Newman ( the arranger & conductor of Is That All There Is?), Carole King, & James Taylor. From 1957 until her final recording in 1993, she routinely released 2 albums a year including standards, her own compositions, & material from new artists.
Lee was nominated for 12 Grammy Awards, winning Best Contemporary Vocal Performance for Is That All There Is? In 1995 she was given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Peggy Lee was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress for her work in Pete Kelly's Blues.
Is she already a Gay Idol? If not, I hereby nominate Miss Peggy Lee. She left us in 2002. Lee would have been 92 today. Is That All There Is?