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Popular does not mean bad

Over in the arts section of the Rust we beat the drum that popularity does not mean an artist or writer is poor and conversely critics do not always read the public mood.

Melanie Gay extols the virtues of Daphne du  Maurier, still vastly read over 100 years after her birth and 80 years after publication of her first novel The Loving Spirit.

Alice Mansfield carries the torch of figurative painters Ted Seago and Ken Howard, both far more popular with their collectors than critics.

Alice will also tell you about Bill Jacklin the brother of golfer Tony Jacklin and the Telegraph critic who said if you buy one painting this year buy one of his. He barely sold another picture.

Tim Holford-Smith is happier to go to Chichester to see an Alan Ayckbourn revival than production of King Lear.

Ayckbourn does not care what the critics say, he is a millionaire still producing plays that the middle class audience adores as he understands them better than any critic.

In the field of music the popularity camp have an apologist in David Mellor. On his Sunday radio show at Classic FM in his last programme he showcased John Wilson and his orchestra. Nobody has done more to preserve the traditions of the American songbook broadcast by a band not a rock singer star looking for new material.

I have been to several John Wilson concerts and there is something both soaring and uplifting when the full orchestra belts out That’ s Entertainment.

David Mellor made the point that if Verdi or Puccini were around today they would be writing musicals and in their time the Gershwins and Cole Porter would be writing opera. He went on to opine that Cole Porter is  a genius for his lyrics let alone his music. Popular lyrics can match the finest operatic aria. How about this description of Hamlet from the lyrics of That’s Entertainment written by Arthur Schwartz:

Where a ghost and prince meet

Everyone ends in mince meat”   

Here’s a link to the full lyrics of – THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT

About Michael Stuart

After university, Michael spent twelve years working for MELODY MAKER before going freelance. He claims to keep doing it because it is all he knows. More Posts