Happy Anniversary, Bernadette

Every so often I stumble across something on the good old Web that makes me sit up and say: Whoa! I should have known that!

For example, I didn't know, but should have, that the voice of the ravenous Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors (1986 version) was provided by Levi Stubbs, former lead singer of the Four Tops. In addition, I wouldn't have expected to learn that at the New Republic website, in an article explaining why Dreamgirls didn't deserve an Best Picture nomination in the Oscar competition.

Thinking about Levi Stubbs made me think of "Bernadette"; his inspired vocal performance is one of the many reasons "Bernadette" is my favorite Four Tops song. (And one of my favorite songs, period.)

And it turns out that today, February 16, 2007, is the fortieth anniversary of the release of "Bernadette". If you have the means and opportunity to do so, might I suggest that you dig it out and crank it up?

I thought of "Bernadette" when reading about astronaut Lisa Nowak driving 900 miles from Houston to Orlando in a diaper to confront her romantic rival. It's pretty clear that, given the right (or, more accurately, the wrong) circumstances, the singer could wind up doing something like that. Stubbs sings like his heart is being ripped out; even though Bernadette belongs to him now, the situation is less than stable.

You can read the lyrics to "Bernadette", and a thought-provoking analysis, right here. The pseudonymous author claims it as "a disturbing portrait of a man overwhelmed by concurrent feelings of obsession and desire." A Bob Dylan connection is also made.

Which made me say: Whoa! I should have known that!

Here is the Wikipedia article on Levi Stubbs.

Levi Stubbs and his wife Clineice have been married since 1960 and have had five children. In 1995, Stubbs was diagnosed with cancer, and therefore does not now tour.

But he's still with us, celebrating his 70th birthday last June. It's a good day to be thankful for the talent he chose to share with us.


Last Modified 2012-10-19 3:07 PM EST