Oh boy – how to make sense of this? It’s Blossom Dearie folks, an acquired taste perhaps but one once acquired quite hard to shake off. And she’s on Pebble Mill – ha, Pebble Mill, those two words take me back to afternoons in the 80s bunking off school, revelling in the utter naffness of the afternoon chat show. That Pebble Mill was a place in Birmingham just seemed so unerringly correct. So here’s Blossom, making no concessions to the milieu she finds herself trapped in (she was a jazzer I guess – it’s a gig – take the money and run), regaling old ladies sipping tea in their parlours with takes of getting deep into zen, meditation, macrobiotics and narcotics. Dave Frishberg wrote the lyric to ‘I’m Hip’ in the early 60s as an affectionate parody of the kind of jazz-pseud posturing so prevalent at a time when jazz was still very much considered hip. Blossom then went on to make it one of her signature tunes, and she plays a great version on the always in print ‘Live at Ronnie Scott’s’ album. There was a lovely sly knowingness about Blossom’s style, the little girlie voice set off by the drive and technique of her piano playing. And what cheek and low cunning to play this on 1980’s British television. 1960’s New York in a BBC studio in the 1980s – how gloriously incongruous. Here are the words she sings :
See I’m hip, I’m no square,
I’m alert, I’m awake, I’m aware. I am always on the scene.
Making the rounds, digging the sounds.
I read People Magazine.
‘Cuz I’m hip.
Like, dig! I’m in step.
When it was hip to be hep, I was hep.
I don’t blow but I’m a fan.
Look at me swing. Ring a ding-ding.
I even call my girlfriend “man,” ‘cuz I’m hip.
Every Saturday night with my suit buttoned tight and my suedes on
I’m getting my kicks digging arty French flicks with my shades on.
I’m too much. I’m a gas.
I am anything but middle class.
When I hang around the band,
Popping my thumbs, digging the drums,
Squares don’t seem to understand
Why I flip. They’re not hip like I’m hip.
I’m on top of every trend.
Look at me go. Vo-dee-o-do.
Sammy Davis knew my friend.
I’m hip, but not weird.
Like, you notice, I don’t wear a beard.
Beards were in but now they’re out.
They had their day. Now they’re passé.
Just ask me if you’re in doubt, ‘cuz I’m hip.
Now I’m deep into Zen meditation and macrobiotics,
And as soon as I can I intend to get into narcotics.
‘Cuz I’m cool as a cuke.
I’m a cat, I’m a card, I’m a kook, kook, kook.
I get so much out of life.
Really, I do. Skoo ba dee boo.
One more time play “Mack the Knife.”
Let ‘er rip. I may flip, but I’m hip.