Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Peggy Lee- The Case of M.J.

Case closed.

One of my parents’ favorite songs was Peggy Lee’s "Is That All There Is?" Hearing my folks soulfully croon along with the desperately cynical anthem was troubling. Those over forty surely recall the tune. "If that’s all there is, my friends, then let’s keep dancing," Lee woozily sings. "Let’s break out the booze and have a ball." You may also recollect the song’s narrator rejecting suicide, only because she’s "not ready for that final disappointment." Not exactly a comforting cup of Tang.

It seemed the adults in my life subscribed to this jaded philosophy in the early ‘70s. Frequently awakened by maniacal laughter, I would blearily stumble onto the hallway’s shag carpet to witness the big people whooping it up in a blurry world of cocktails, cigarettes and dirty jokes. I get it now, of course, but at the time I was bewildered by this unsettling house of mirrors.

The infamous single was released in 1969 but it wasn’t issued on a proper album until 1975's unfathomably bizarre Mirrors. "The Case of M.J.", like the rest of the Leiber & Stoller project, is perversely upsetting. Still, deranged fans of Randy Newman, Magnetic Fields, and even the Dresden Dolls might find an affinity for this out-of-print record.


Peter Stoller said...

Just FYI, the “unfathomably bizarre” Mirrors is back in print, as the greater part of the Hip-O Select CD, Peggy Lee Sings Leiber & Stoller. It’s all there, remixed, remastered, and resequenced, with previously unreleased tracks from the 1975 sessions.

There actually is an Is That All There Is? album from 1969, but I could understand one being reticent about calling that assemblage of spare tracks from numerous unrelated recording sessions a “proper album.” The song “Is That All There Is?” was not on the original 1975 Mirrors LP, but was added on to the beginning of the briefly-available CD reissue in 1989. (It is, of course, included on the Peggy Lee Sings Leiber & Stoller CD, as well.)

Happy In Bag said...

It's a real treat for me to have you stop by, Peter, and I'm pleased that you cleared up my confusion over the discography.