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How I learned to love Wagner

March 19, 2014

The Six Million Dollar Composer.

Wagner. Yes, Wagner. In fact, six letters just don’t do it justice: WAAAAAAGNERRR. There, that’s better.

Wagner is a name that has appeared in these pages more frequently than most; folk who have been generous enough to visit more than once will recall that it is not a name uttered here with much reverence. Though he created music that delights many and awestrikes (that’s a word, right?) others, I struggle to name complete works of Richard Wagner for which I have sufficient endurance. Indeed, when Mrs simonsometimessays, romantic that she is, once brought up the subject of an “eternity ring”, I thought her guilty of an opera-based tautology.

So instead of anything in full, here is a snippet for you: the Overture from Rienzi. It may be thirteen or so minutes long, but trust me – relatively speaking it’s a snippet. But I admit, the principal motif of this was on my mind for weeks when I first heard it, notwithstanding* the above remarks.

Now, let me offer an alternative view of Wagner:

The Bionic Woman: Lindsay Wagner. The hairstyle alone took hours of programming.

The Bionic Woman: Lindsay Wagner. The hairstyle alone took hours of programming.

Lindsay Wagner. Not to be confused with Mrs Wagner, supplier of the pies fêted in Simon and Garfunkel’s beautiful ballad America. Perhaps we should avoid such confusion by using her bionic alias: Jaime Summers. The fantasy of a generation of teenage boys whose ideal mate was heavily mechanised and came with her own spare parts.

For those of you who don’t remember the series from the late 70s, The Bionic Woman was a gender-equalising spin-off from The Six Million Dollar Man, the adventures of a terribly injured astronaut rescued and rebuilt with a range of bionic prosthetics which functioned with many times the efficiency of the original body parts.

Jaime Summers was similarly injured, requiring, among other things, the fitting of a bionic ear, doubtless in order to enable her to sit through Tannhäuser with no ill effects.

As it happens, the Bionic Woman, The Six Million Dollar Man and a subsequent one-appearance-only character known as the Seven Million Dollar Man** all had the good fortune to need both legs replaced. This was either a weird coincidence or a production device to avoid the absurdity of trying to portray an immaculately-coiffured pin-up hopping after criminals at 60 miles per hour.

Now stay with me for some shameless connections….

The Six Million Dollar Man was Steve Austin. Austin is of course state capital of Texas, and for that reason alone we are heading over to Texas for Halo. This is Texas at their best – rhythmic, melodic and with some excellent vocal twists. Ironically, it also illustrates why I think they rather went off the boil – they never really moved forward from this….

….Another doubtful connection takes us to another city in Texas, namely Paris, and thence across the Atlantic to the other Paris, where, ironically, we will still find an American, who’s definitely got rhythm, a characteristic shared by a roomful of Puerto Ricans very divided as to whether they wanted to be in America. Do you get where I’m heading now?…

West Side Story – one of the most exhilarating musicals to appear on stage or screen (the screen version has the edge for me),; a favourite of Mr and Mrs sss; starring the wonderful but musically mute Natalie Wood, married until her untimely death to…

…Robert Wagner. And I bet you thought this stuff was just thrown together.

Is this the world's greatest composer?

Is this the world’s greatest composer?

Finally, and unusually, I would like to dedicate this to Anne-Marie. She has taken me to task many times for my contentious opinions. I suspect that she may be the subject of ELO’s  Rock Aria – certainly, “she’s sweet on Wagner”.

*”Notwithstanding”: as well as taking up my simonsometimessays pen, I seem also to have reverted to the stylus – and style – reserved for my work in the legal world. I’ll try not to let it intrude too much, but please note that no responsibility is accepted for any musical distress suffered by reliance on any statement made in the simonsometimessays blog. In other words, as Pluto said: Don’t blame me, Your Honour.

**In competition with this new arrival, our cheaper hero naturally proved victorious, suggesting that the higher price-tag was down to rampant 70s inflation.

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6 Comments
  1. Anne-Marie Hetherington permalink

    You ought to acknowledge why I have grown accustomed to Wagner, I think. It is most definitely down to living with someone who sings Wagner for a living!

  2. Ah Wagner. His X-Factor Cycle was indeed awestriking.

  3. You know, I didn’t include that one because I thought no one would have heard of him. As it turns out, I’m the only one who hadn’t heard of him.

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