The album to celebrate my 50th birthday! It's a collection of my favourite songs from my albums over the years: 10 originals, 5 covers, and 1 new original track.
50 Big Ones is a reference to my age, but it's also a reference to a line from my favourite movie of all time, Rudy. Here's the detail on that here:
This album is like bubble-and-squeak: in the UK the meaning is slightly different (it was a dish originally made from Sunday roast leftovers), but in this part of the world, we understand it to be whatever you find in the fridge as leftovers to cook, and you just throw it all together and hope it is edible! I have taken 16 of my favourite songs – 1 brand new, 10 old originals, and 5 covers - from all the albums I have done over the years, and I have put them together in a compilation album.
They don't necessarily tie together as a theme (something I have often been accused of in my eclectic Bohemian mixed bag of original songs). But they are my favourite songs (original or cover), or the songs of mine that have been the most successful, or ones that I think really do my voice justice (or my voice does justice to the song).
There you have it!
The name of this album derives its inspiration from my favourite movie of all time: Rudy. Why, you might ask?
Well here's the long story. When I was at university, I was in the choir, but I was not a particularly good singer or musician. I had gone for training, and the teacher told me that I was no Pavarotti. It's not that she was being mean - she was just being honest. And as I later discovered, she didn't know any better. A few years later I met Norma, who turned me into a singer, because she knew how.
But back in 1994, I took a drive out to Sterland - a prominent cinema complex in Pretoria (and the largest in South Africa at the time, with 13 screens) - where I had decided to check out the movies. When I got there, I saw a poster for a movie. It read thus: "When people say dreams don't come true, tell them about Rudy." I was immediately drawn in, and decided to go and watch it. I still have the ticket stub. It was Monday 6 June 1994 - 50 years to the day after D-Day - and I went to the 5:30pm show.
Let me tell you why I went to see the movie, and why it appealed to me so much (and still does, to this day - I watch it about once every 6 months). You see, even though I desperately wanted to learn how to sing, and be a great singer, I just never believed I had the talent. And Rudy had been told his whole life that he never had talent. So I identified so strongly with this theme.
In the movie, after he finishes high school, Rudy ends up with his best friend Pete, working in a steel mill. He hates it, but he's resigned himself to the fact that that's his lot in life.
One day, so the scene goes, while Rudy and Pete are eating lunch together at the steel mill, Pete says to Rudy, "What is today?" Rudy says it's the 23rd of August (incidentally, just two days before my birthday). And then he says, "It's my birthday." Pete pipes up and responds, "22 Big Ones!" He'd been working in the steel mill since he was 18, and he'd been there almost 4 years. Pete pulls out a packet, and hands it to Rudy. He opens it, to find a Notre Dame jacket. Now in case you didn't know, Notre Dame is a university in the US, with a great football team. Rudy always wanted to study there, and play football there. But he'd been told he was too dumb, and that he didn't have the athletic ability to play football.
Rudy just about has a heart attack as he tries on the jacket. He asks Pete what he thinks. "You were born to wear that jacket," says Pete. Rudy thanks Pete for the amazing gift, and for also always believing in him. Pete responds by saying, "My dad always says having Dreams is what makes life tolerable." A short while later in the movie, Pete dies tragically. It gives Rudy the impetus and push he needs to quit the steel mill. Even though he is not academically strong enough, he moves to South Bend (where Notre Dame is located), works his ass off, and gets into the university. And even though he is a small guy with very little hope of ever playing football there, he works so hard that he ends up on the field in the last game of his senior year, and gets to play for 27 seconds. Sheer will, determination, grit, and a stubborn refusal to give up. The real Rudy's book gives inspiring details into the background of his life and the movie. And like the movie, it’s my favourite book of all time. I re-read it every few months.
Wow. I walked out of that movie on that fateful day back in 1994, believing I could have a big Music Dream. And here I stand, 27 years later, in 2021, having lived my Music Dream. Wow. How lucky and blessed am I.
So when you ask me, why 50 Big Ones? Because it's like Rudy's 22 Big Ones in the movie. The only difference is, I'm 50, not 22. And I still get to live and love my Music Dream each and every single day. Wow. Have I been successful? Maybe. Have I had days when I hated the Music Dream? Lots and lots of them - and you will have days when you hate your Dream too. That's okay. Keep your head down, and keep working anyway.
Now you may be reading this, thinking, "Gawd, what sappy yucky sentimental schmaltzy bullshit." Hey, I might look back on this album cover when I turn 100 and think and feel the same way. But I guess album covers are a bit like songs - that's how I felt at the time. I heard Dolly Parton (love her) say that the name of her Christmas album, “A Holly Dolly Christmas,” was kinda corny – so I’m in good company!
And so, dear friends, whether you've known about my music for 5 minutes or 5 years, and whether you're buying this album because it's your birthday gift to me (and I asked you to), or not, know this: I have absolutely and utterly loved my Music Dream all my life, I love singing and I hope I will love it till I drop into the hole, as my beloved husband always says, and I am so grateful for all I have managed to do in music and singing, whether great or small, whether good or bad, whether it resonates with people or not. For I can truly and honestly say that I have lived my greatest Dream.
Even so: may your own journey to your Dreams be as blessed as mine.
I dedicate this album to every being, past, present or future, anywhere in the universe, who listens to their soul, and as a result, has the courage to pursue their Dream.
Musica, grata Deo.