Posts from 17th October 2004

Oct 04

World Match Play goes to Els for record sixth win

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World Match Play goes to Els for record sixth win

Congrats to Ernie Els on his record-breaking win in the World Match Play this afternoon. Els is a great golfer who is as affable as he is talented. I’m with Seve when he reckons “there’s no better player or better guy” to beat his and Gary Player’s previous Match Play record.

For those who aren’t into golf, watching matchplay golf can be more exciting than medal play. The Ryder cup this year was electrifying and there has been some terrific golf at Wentworth this year. First Bernhard Langer bumps the world number one, Vijay Singh, out on Friday only for him to be pipped by John Wark-lookalike Jimenez in the quarter-finals.

Matchplay demands guts and improvisation, which is one of the reasons why Ballesteros excelled, but I wonder whether Padraig Harrington should have thought twice before trying the shot which resulted in him smashing his hand against a tree on the follow-through. Ouch! As a result, “it felt I was hitting with a shovel rather than a golf club.” No surprise then that Els put Harrington out in the semis. Golf is a difficult enough game without having to play with your hand covered in Elastoplasts.

THE SHADOWS – “Wonderful Land”

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#134, 24th March 1962

It reminds me of America, one of the Shadows told Jerry Lordan when he played them his latest instrumental. America seems like a wonderful land, said somebody else, and the name stuck. A sweetly-struck six-note figure becomes a sweep of the arm taking in America’s open skies, its nobility, its glamour, its youth, its space – so much space! – and for the cramped Britain that kept the Shadows’ record at the top for six weeks, its exotic difference.

On the 24th March, as the record reached No.1 in Britain, the young President of the Wonderful Land was in bed with its most beautiful, starriest star. According to Marilyn Monroe’s biographer, Donald Spoto, the night she spent with Kennedy in Palm Springs was the only verifiable time the pair were ‘intimate’. Their affair is one of history’s too-perfect, too-corny moments (even if, like most hopeless flings, its reality was sad and grubby) – two star-crossed icons! But icons of what? Of a sixties that didn’t end up happening. You can hear it in the two widescreen minutes of “Wonderful Land” – no tension, no division, simply optimism and energy, a promise that things would not only get better but get better smoothly.

ELVIS PRESLEY – “Can’t Help Falling In Love”

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#133, 24th February 1962

For me, Elvis’ devotional lullaby walks the line between dreamy and dreary a little too finely. The arrangement is immaculate – lulling harmonies; carefully-placed twangs – but the melody and performance are a little too sedate. Perhaps I’d prefer it if the hints of abjection in the lyrics were more than that – for someone pledging his whole life and talking of sin, Presley never sounds like there’s much at stake.