Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

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Amanda McBroom

Not many people have heard of her - she wrote the song The Rose which was Bette Middler's first big hit. I can't remember how I discovered her, but it had something to do with a song she recorded called Errol Flynn which was written for her by a friend, based on stories she told about her father, whose stage name was David Bruce

On my way to work this morning I was playing a CD with my favorite tunes ripped from various albums, and the section of Amanda's songs came on. I've always wanted to use Errol Flynn as an audition piece. My friend and evil twin Howard Miller is going to be directing Oklahoma this summer, auditions are in about a month, and I was toying with trying out for Judd, and this reminded me it would be a good piece to use. If I can figure out a way to work around being on call while the show is running.

But I digress.

Errol Flynn is a tear-jerker. It's about her father, who acted in some of Errol Flynn's movies, such as The Sea Hawk, and her feelings as a girl watching his movies with him, him leaving, and his sad end.

Since the main thrust of the posting is in praise of Amanda, I hid this bit.

Here's the whole tune, with my comments.

In a hall
On a wall
In a house in Reseda
There's a poster held up
By two nails and a pin

It's my daddy, the actor
'bout to die with his boots on

Errol Flynn was perhaps most famous for playing Gen. Custer in the 1941 classic They Died With Their Boots On
David Bruce was not in that picture

He's the man standing up there
Beside Errol Flynn

When I first heard the song, I actually found a poster online for The Sea Hawk which showed Bruce standing next to Flynn

He got third or fourth biling
At the end of each picture
"Well, that don't mean much"
He would say, with a grin

But he'd hold my hand tight
As he pointed his name out
Only four or five names
Down below Errol Flynn

Maybe the studio made the actors special versions of the credits for their personal copies, but in the production releases Bruce never even came close to 4th billing. In The Sea Hawk he was 15th. In Santa Fe Trail he moved up to 14th. Ronald Reagan got 4th billing in that one. Those were the only two movies he was in with Flynn.

He did have 2nd billing in his first credited movie,
Pony Express Days (1940) which starred George reeves, who later became TV's Superman. He and Reeves were also extras in Reagan's big hit Knute Rockne All American (1940). In 1941 he co-starred in Singapore Woman.

Now Fame, it is fleeting
And stars, they keep falling
And Staying right up there
That's the business of Art

And Luck kisses some
And she passes by others
And bourbon
Are hard on the heart

Bruce died of a heart attack -- at the age of 62 (1976).

Now the women and beers
And the years with old Errol
They took their toll
And took me from his side

Flynn died of a heart attack at age 50 (1959). Bruce lived another 17 years.

He kissed me goodbye
At the old Union Station
That's the last time I saw him
The last time I cried

I wonder. According to his IMDB bio, Bruce was married only once, in 1943, and it was the death of his wife in 1962 which ended the union. Amanda was born in 1946.

Now I'm sitting alone
In a house in Reseda
Watching the late show
As the moolnlight shines in
And up on the screen
Well, here comes my daddy
It's a sad, funny feeling
Now I'm older than him

He was only 26 when he made his movies with Flynn. Amanda wasn't even born for another 6 years.

So you daddies and daughters
You sons and you mothers
Remember, life's over
Before it begins
So love one another
And stand close together
As close as my dad did
To old Errol Flynn

David Bruce, born Marden McBroom, continued to make movies, including several Warner Brothers musicals (some for which he got top billing) for another 16 years after his work with Flynn. Thanks to the studio system, his name shared the credits with such greats as John Wayne, Raymond Massey, Olivia DeHavilland, Brenda Marshall, Claude Rains... look at this clip of the cast lust from The Sea Wolf (1941):
Edward G. Robinson .... 'Wolf' Larsen
Ida Lupino .... Ruth Brewster
John Garfield .... George Leach
Alexander Knox .... Humphrey Van Weyden
Gene Lockhart .... Dr. Louis J. Prescott
Barry Fitzgerald .... Cooky
Stanley Ridges .... Johnson
David Bruce .... Young Sailor

As romantic as the song's tragic ending is, it doesn't really hold up in the harsh light of history.

When she isn't composing, she's a lounge singer, and this is recorded live on her album Live from Rainbow & Stars , and also in the studio on her album Portraits. I did some editing to merge both of them - I really love the ending on the live album, which closes with the recognizable theme of one of the major movie studios (missing from the studio version) but the studio version is generally cleaner and sung better.

What attracted me to her songs is the lyrics match the tune, and there are usually one or two twists of phrase which are romantic and clever and just seem to sneak right up on me.

From Errol Flynn:
But Fame, it is fleeting
And stars, they keep falling
And staying right up there
That's the business of Art

And Luck kisses some
And she passes by others.
And bourbon
Are hard on the heart

From No Fear
Maybe tomorrow
The world as I know it
Will crumble and fall apart
But still somehow
I think I'll manage
To look at the world
Through a rose-colored heart

From Whoever You Are
I can hear you laughing in my sleep
I can see you sitting in my chair
I can feel your fingers on my shoulder
And the way your lips will move against my hair
I can hear those whispers in the dark
Promises I never will forget
There's only one thing missing in this love of mine
I haven't met you yet
I see your eyes
I hear your voice
My heart is yours
It has no choice

From From Where I Stand
From where I stand
I see the bridges burning
From where I stand
Our love is going down
Looks like stormy weather
My dreams have all gone home
We're standing close together
And I'm feeling all alone

From Here and Now
These aren't the best of times
But they're the only times we have
But before it all goes by
In a flash or a sigh
There's something my heart needs to say to you
For every feeling left unspoken
Is a love song that's unheard
We can make tonight a memory
Not a dream that might have been
If tomorrow comes between us
Still, for you, I'd do it all again

Clue: The words that look Like this</a> are links. Click the ones which are song titles and you'll get an MP3 sample of the song. And click this one for Amanda's home page. Be sure to check out the "Goodies" pages.

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