Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It's Impossible to 'Label' a 'DIVA'...
(Or, is it Really Over when the Fat Lady Sings?)

I'm not exactly sure what the requirements are for a female becoming a 'DIVA'. All I know is, some ladies I've read about or heard "are", and most "aren't". For example, Barbra Striesand, the nervy lady with the loud voice, and Donna Summer, the former disco queen, are (or have been) both considered to be Divas. Different as night and day, those two. Hasn't even the pop chameleon, Madonna, been referred to as a Diva? Whenever I hear the word 'Diva', my mind immediately calls up the old phrase, "it ain't over 'till the fat lady sings", as in opera, where some of the ladies who excruciatingly warble in best overblown, overdone vibrato-tinged exhalations have, well, an abundance of statuesquesque-ness about them. (THEY'RE BIG AND FAT!!! There...I said it...can we move on now?) And I always thot only rotund Opera Sopranos were Divas. Shows you how much I know...

I think Cher has had the title of 'Diva' bestowed upon her, and she's definitely NOT fat. Well, she was no opera singer, and she sure hasn't got a Barbra Striesand-type-voice...I suppose Cher would have more in common with Madonna than with Ms. Striesand, so yeah, I 'spose Cher could be a 'Diva' of sorts. Does the title 'Diva' imply that one has talent? Or a certain Style? Does it imply that for some unknown reason, the lady has somehow cultivated endless fascination from the masses? Is a 'Diva' a lady who is truly different, with no one before or after quite like her? Maybe, then, Janis Joplin could be a Diva. Or Miss Lee Morse, or Jane Green, two vintage songbirds from the 1920's-1930's. Maybe they were Divas in their day. The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin has been referred to as a 'Diva', and so has pop stylist Dionne Warwick. Is 'Diva-dom' forever? Well, if Bessie Smith was a diva, perhaps so. Bessie could shure sing those blues. Former Supremes' lead singer Diana Ross is also regarded as a Diva. Of course, anyone who's read anything of Miss Ross' life story knows that she always gets whatever she wants. Maybe THAT'S the definition of a 'Diva'? I don't know...

Okay, so I've belabored that point more deeply in the ground than could a 400-pound guy wielding an antique posthole digger. So what was the thing, the mechanism, the point of reference that resulted in my wondering about just what constitutes a "Diva"? Well, I was on Ebay the other day, looking at old 78rpm records, when I saw THIS one that goes way, waaaaaay back...as you can see, some long-forgotten artist from back in the old daze had quite an imagination...or maybe he thought of the "fat lady singing"...this record, featuring Annette Hanshaw (another vintage songbird) is on the "Diva" label, and shows the (fat) lady with her mouth wide open; open so wide that the artist went and stuck the logo in there! This label was issued by Columbia Records back in the 1920's, and was manufactured for the W.T. Grant department store chain. (I actually went to a Grant dept. store when I was a kid...they had a cool toy section.) Getting back to this record, I always liked it when a big company could implement something silly to grab the public's attention. And, humor was abundant in the Roaring Twenties, when this record came out.

This is why, for instance, I continue to insure my car with GEICO Insurance. I've been with them over ten years now, and although now on TV, there are companies that say they're cheaper than GEICO, I stay with 'em because of that confounded GECKO they use in their ads. As the Gecko might say, "I's jus' a lil' spot o' humor, mate." So when I spotted the 'Diva' record label, I thought, "waaaay cooool". Many of the other record labels back then were kinda stodgy in appearance, all formal and plain, and cut n' dried in their presentation. I enjoy things that are unique, such as this label design. There was, much later on, a division of the Motown label, called "Gordy" (after Berry Gordy, who founded Motown), and on the vivid Purple Gordy Records label, you could read the words, "It's What's In The Grooves That Count". I thought that was pretty cool, too. If yer doin' something, why not try to have fun with it?

While we're on the subject of cool record labels, you might remember an old saying from the 1950's..."it's the End, man, it's totally Endsville"...in short, whatever you were referring to was the best, the utmost, the closest thing to perfection you could find. An old record label from those times took that term and injected a little bit of humor into it...

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen, the "END" records label, in which a little doggie watches itself wiggle its own tail...and again, this is an example of humor in marketing that I thought was really cool. And, to reinforce the point, the factory record sleeves these discs came in showed a larger version of the same dog-following-end depiction. And you know, that's what this world needs. A little more good-natured informality. More humor and whimsy.
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Way back in this post, I mentioned the Diva label was manufactured by Columbia records. The Diva label may be long gone, but ol' Columbia is still chuggin' away (although it's owned by Sony Corporation of Japan now). Barbra Striesand STILL records for Columbia, and both Bessie Smith and Lee Morse recorded for Columbia way back when. "End" Records met its, well, 'end', back in the mid '60s. I have a copy of 'Shimmy Shimmy Ko-Ko-Bop' (Little Anthony & The Imperials) on the End label. I treasure it. Whoa, gotta go now...I hear operatic rumblings in the distance...

3 Comments:

Blogger raymond pert said...

Thanks a lot for identifying Ken Ives over at kelloggbloggin. Honest to goodness, until you wrote that's who it was, I had no clue. I had him frozen in time back in 1976 in my imagination. He's aged...

3:45 PM  
Blogger Inland Empire Girl said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog. I do miss the Oregon Coast and want to return soon. I just read my brother's comment above. He didn't know that was Ken Ives. I didn't even think he had changed that much. I had probably seen him more. Enjoy the ocean view.

9:32 PM  
Blogger Inland Empire Girl said...

Me again... I read on your "About Me" that you like to read True Crime. I really do also and I haven't commited any either. I'd like to hear ones you would recommend.

9:33 PM  

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