For a good portion of my childhood I had a stay-at-home mom. Between careers in marketing, education and public relations, my mom stayed home to take care of my brother and me. I look back fondly to those days, bringing friends home knowing our house would always be “together” and the aroma of freshly baked brownies waiting to greet us as we entered.
Another memory that sticks out is the music my mother played as she worked around the house. This requirement of aural stimulation must be genetic because to this day I have trouble getting much of anything done without music or a podcast in the background.
For my mother the music was Earth Wind and Fire, Al Jarreau, Aaron Neville, Sade and Bette Midler. Of all those artists, it was the Divine Miss M that impacted me the most. You would think the love I had for her and Barbara Streisand would have tipped people off but I guess everyone somehow overlooked that…
The song is in the blues style, and Porter’s wry take on some common lyrical subject matter of the genre, telling the tale of a woman who comes to a bad end after an encounter with a man. But Porter’s peculiar twist is that Miss Otis is a polite society lady, and the story of her last evening is told by her servant after Miss Otis has met her demise. In a few compact lines, the servant reveals how, after being seduced and then abandoned, Miss Otis hunted down and shot her seducer, was arrested, taken from the jail by a mob, and hanged. The servant conveys Miss Otis’s final, polite, apologetic words to her friends: “Miss Otis regrets she’s unable to lunch today.”
Why a six year old Justin obsessed over a song about a woman being lynched I don’t really understand. In any other situation, a song like this might seem totally inappropriate. However, when I woke up this morning, this song was in my head and my childhood on my mind.
Do you have any similar memories? Feel free to share them in the comments below! Now I feel the need to vacuum, so if you could excuse me…
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