Monday, September 10, 2012

Peel Me A Grape

Cultural literacy at our house: You have to know the difference between a picture of Blossom Dearie and Barbara Bel Geddes

Hot sensible women. Even Marilyn Monroe took a run at the look and feel of it, wearing capri pants and a turtleneck, and holding one of her umpteenth husband Arthur Miller's books upside down while lounging on a couch.

The fifties and pre-hippie sixties are always portrayed as stultifying for women in the current culture. I dunno. Blossom Dearie could really play and sing, and did, right until she died. She was plenty sophisticated. An urban fixture. Coquetteish and serious in turn. Midge was just a character in Vertigo, but movie characters reveal archetypes as well as any pop culture thing does. She was a bohemian in a garrett and had the audience murmuring to themselves that Jimmy Stewart oughta ignore the brassy broad and towers and settle down with Barbara Bel Geddes and her squirrel-hair brushes. Serious was a kind of fun then.

The lyrics of that song are wry:

Peel me a grape, crush me some ice
Skin me a peach, save the fuzz for my pillow
Talk to me nice, talk to me nice
You've got to wine and dine me

Don't try to fool me bejewel me
Either amuse me or lose me
I'm getting hungry, peel me a grape

Pop me a cork, french me a fry
Crack me a nut, bring a bowl full of bon-bons
Chill me some wine, keep standing by
Just entertain me, champagne me
Show me you love me, kid glove me
Best way to cheer me, cashmere me
I'm getting hungry, peel me grape

Here's how to be an agreeable chap
Love me and leave me in luxury's lap
Hop when I holler, skip when I snap
When I say, "do it," jump to it

Send out for scotch, boil me a crab
Cut me a rose, make my tea with the petals
Just hang around, pick up the tab
Never out think me, just mink me
Polar bear rug me, don't bug me
New Thunderbird me, you heard me
I'm getting hungry, peel me a grape
There you go, guys. That's the Cliffs Notes to forty years of subscriptions to Cosmo. Make it so, and get your own Marilyn Monroe to read your book upside-down on your couch.

Blossom Dearie on Amazon


leelu said...

I think the archetype for that may have been Lauren Bacall. Saw her once on a talk show. In the course of the conversation, "...put your lips together and blow." Came up. She did the entire scene, and I would have followed her to the ends of the earth thru hell itself.

And she was in her early 70s.


Deborah said...

I don't shrink my music and listen to it with "buds," but if I did, Blossom Dearie would show every tenth song or so (along with Gene Harris).

shoreacres said...

When I was a kid, I can remember my mom saying to my dad, "Why don't you peel me a grape?" And then they'd both laugh.

I thought it was a little funny, but didn't really understand it. I think I just got a clue. ;)

Anonymous said...

Aaaahh but now this may confuse you, philosopher!!!:
Mrs. Elvis Costello

teresa said...

One of the things I love about this lady is that she resists the urge(?) to simper while singing this song. The girlish voice is amazing. The face of an old lady aping a young dish while singing with that voice would have pushed it into nightmare. Thank you Blossom Dearie for what you did but also for what you didn't.