Throughout my life one song’s melody and lyrics have played on a continuous loop. I’ve heard it sung by my wife’s Russian family and their friends at parties and family affairs. I’ve heard it when sung by various entertainers in the Catskill Mountains when I was a musician in the 60’s and marveled at the “karaoke” effect it had on audiences. Last night that song in the hands of Charles Busch at Feinstein’s/54 Below was it’s most heartfelt and profound interpretation I’ve ever experienced. In fact most of the songs in Charles Busch: My Kinda 60s show had that effect. He infused new life into tunes that aren’t included in most current cabaret acts.
“Those Were the Days” is a song credited to Gene Raskin, who put a new English lyric to the Russian romance song “Dorogoi dlinnoyu” (“Дорогой длинною”, literally “By the long road”), composed by Boris Fomin (1900–1948) with words by the poet Konstantin Podrevsky. It deals with reminiscence upon youth and romantic idealism. Mary Hopkin’s 1968 version of the song, produced by Paul McCartney, became a number one hit on the UK Singles Chart. The song also reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100, behind McCartney’s own band The Beatles’ hit “Hey Jude”.
Another musical highlight in the show was composer Henry Mancini’s favorite song “Two For The Road” with brilliant piano stylings by longtime Busch musical director Tom Judson who has a warm melodic voice that meshed perfectly with Charles’.
Then the busy years went rushing by us
We lost our starry notions on the way
If by chance I’d see you in the tavern
We’d smile at one another and we’d say
Those were the days my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We’d live the life we choose
We’d fight and never lose
Those were the days my friend……… Charles Busch with his stories and songs made last night at the tavern Below 54th street one of those great days my friend.
(For another article by Stephen & complete photos of this show go to Broadwayworld.com)