This morning I was listening to an old favorite, namely Barbara Cook at The Met, and a song came on that’s never failed to move me. That song is Errol Flynn, written by Amanda McBroom.
Despite the title, this song is not about Errol Flynn, but rather David Bruce, Amanda’s father. Both men were American actors in the 19th century, and acted alongside each another.
The songwriter paints a poignant picture of her relationship with her father, who it seems she’s lost to drinking and similar hazards of a show business artist’s life in that era.
Now, the women and beers, and the years with old Errol
They took their toll, they took me from his side
He kissed me goodbye at the old Union Station
That’s the last time I saw him, the last time I cried
The other interesting idea in the stanza directly preceding the above is the immortalizing effect that art has on its greatest practitioners, and that achieving this permanence is indeed the goal of high art.
Now, fame, it is fleeting, and stars, they keep falling
And staying right up there, that’s the business of art
And luck kisses some and she passes by others
Disappointment and bourbon are hard on the heart
But Amanda outlived her father, and cinema is one of the few arts that truly can immortalize the great. Yet seeing a younger version of him in film is a sad, surreal experience.
Now I’m sitting alone in a house in Reseda
Watchin’ the Late Show as the moonlight shines in
And up on the screen, well, here comes my Daddy
It’s a sad, funny feeling, now I’m older than him
I’d encourage listening to this song; it’s one of the most simple yet effective songs I’ve heard.