I once read that Frank Sinatra didn't rate Dinah Shore. You know what happened? A little voice inside me said I didn't rate her either and, despite having one of her albums, I rarely listened to her. A similar thing happened with Gordon MacRae. I read somewhere that he over-eggs every song he sings. I started skipping songs from him too, except the Oklahoma and Carousel numbers which nobody can change my mind about. I'm naturally very susceptible to the opinions of others. Actually, I should rephrase that - I take on board the negative opinions of others, the positive ones rarely penetrate my orbit. I'm very good at deciding when I like something but I'm apparently perfectly happy for other people to tell me what I should and shouldn't like. Especially if those opinions come courtesy of Mr Sinatra.
It occurred to me that I do this with books too. The opinions of my thesis subject, Edmund Yates, are slowing taking hold of my life. I find myself unconsciously sneering at Trollope because of a spat they had. Thackeray's another casualty. And Margaret Oliphant's derogatory remarks about the sensation novel may have put paid to any chance of me reading her in the future! Now, as much as I like Yates as a journalist and author, I don't think I have to channel his opinions in order to write a thesis about him.
At least this is a problem I've recognised. When I get some time I may finally venture further into Thackeray's fiction than simply Vanity Fair and perhaps actually read some Trollope. Mrs Oliphant may be out of luck though - the samples I have read don't exactly grip me.
And what about Dinah and Gordon? Well, I've done a little re-evaluating. I'm actually not keen on Dinah for reasons I can pinpoint - her voice is too soft and homely, when singing a song she can be lost in it. Whatever Sinatra thought, those are my honest and own opinions. Gordon, however, has benefited. Yes, he can over-egg numbers (see 'I Don't Want To Walk Without You', incidentally another song Dinah doesn't grab my attention with) but his treatment varies. I love his version of 'Strangers in the Night', it's almost on a par with the definitive version recorded by Matt Monro. If we're talking about over-egging songs then, for me, you shouldn't look further than Michael Buble. But I've spoken of that before...