We meet American performer Seth Sikes!
The term ‘gay icon’ gets thrown around so much these days
(Newsflash: being sassy on a reality show for a few weeks is not a qualifier), however there are a handful of performers that have totally encapsulated that term over the years. Judy Garland was one of them. Acclaimed American cabaret performer Seth Sikes is a bonafide super-fan, and this week he spoke to Jason Reid about his favourite Judy numbers…
Zing Went the Strings of My Heart
This was the first Judy song that I ever performed in public, at a piano bar, and it’s what made me realise that it was with this kind of old material that I could really connect. It also helped me realise I could sing and it wasn’t contemporary music. And that led to my newfound singing career. The song is undeniably infectious and joyful, and it’s impossible to not be pleased by it. Later I found out that this was the song Judy chose for her MGM audition, so it’s special to me because it was a starter song for both of us.
The Man That Got Away
This song doesn’t just speak for itself, it epitomises an entire genre of songs: Man That Got Away Songs. Some examples are: Losing My Mind and Own My Own. You sing this song in a gay piano bar and the room stops. Harold Arlen’s music, those unexpected jazz chord changes, that iconic vamp, and Ira Gerswhin’s pleading lyric: The winds grow colder/suddenly you’re older. Anyone who has ever experienced unrequited love (every gay man) can empathise with this song.
The title says it all. But look, this song, with Judy’s voice at what I think was its peak, its fattest, healthiest, is, literally… heavenly. It’s a first rate Harold Arlen tune about going across the river to heaven. It was this song in Summer Stock that solidified my lifelong obsession with her. And if heaven were Judy in that costume singing that song with those boys, I’m ready.
You know when you watch an Olympic athlete land a jump or a vault and you wonder how can a human do that? When I watch or listen to Judy singing this insanely huge arrangement I’m amazed by the Herculean feat of it. It’s super human. I tried it once with my band and I never attempted it again because it takes a god to get through it. It’s all about the arrangement; they took this nice, pleasant song and made it into this mad, desperate proclamation, and it keeps building and building and gets higher and higher and louder and louder and suddenly … oh god, well, I guess I just realized, it’s like sex.
Don’t Ever Leave Me
I simply must squeeze this little-known gem in too. It was performed on The Judy Garland Show and I’ve never heard a lovelier, sadder song. It’s simple and short and perfect, and I hope you go and watch it YouTube. I promise you won’t regret it.
Seth Sikes Sings Judy Garland is at Crazy Coqs on Sat 10th June, 7PM.