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"We were originally from Trenton, and I performed at a lot of PTA functions."
December 2, 2011 8:14 AM   Subscribe

Jonathan and Darlene Edwards were a musical duo famous (or infamous) for their off-key but spirited interpretations of such classics as Tiptoe through the Tulips and I Am Woman.

After listening to their music, you might be surprised to learn that they had not one, but two greatest hits compilations. This interview provides some insight into their unique style. Bob Claster (previously on the blue) also interviewed the duo on KCRW in 1983 (MP3 link halfway down the page.)

Jonathan and Darlene Edwards might have languished in obscurity if not for their patrons Jo Stafford and Paul Weston, with whom they lived for many years.

For your further listening pleasure:
posted by usonian (25 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
OMG that needs a NSFL tag! Terrible, just terrible...hmm, come to think of it, I know someone who would LOVE one of those albums for Christmas.
posted by Blake at 8:18 AM on December 2, 2011


In the "I Am Woman" video, the album cover says "A very once in a while it is the privilege of a record company to come upon a grate artist..."

Well trolled, sir and madam. Well trolled.
posted by DU at 8:20 AM on December 2, 2011


Enjoyably atrocious. Put me directly in mind of this.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:28 AM on December 2, 2011


There was an on-key rendition of "Tiptoe Through The Tulips"?
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:28 AM on December 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ah, life before Autotune.
posted by Catblack at 8:34 AM on December 2, 2011


Their Stayin' Alive isn't a cover, it's a cry for help.
posted by roger ackroyd at 9:11 AM on December 2, 2011


What is this I don't even












(someone had to say i
posted by clvrmnky at 9:15 AM on December 2, 2011


The singing brings to mind something Parke Godwin once wrote. If memory serves: "Chastity played piano determinedly, which is not the same as well."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:17 AM on December 2, 2011


I'm assuming that you are aware that they ARE Jo Stafford and Paul Weston...
posted by Futurehouse at 9:20 AM on December 2, 2011


Nice, had not heard of them before - thanks usonian! Cocktails for two is sublime.
posted by carter at 9:24 AM on December 2, 2011


Oh godds, how I love this. As a long-time fan of all things on music's weird side, I have no idea how this stuff's passed me by until now, but it somehow has.

I'm surely not the only one here to find this completely and compellingly beautiful, am I?
posted by item at 9:25 AM on December 2, 2011


My dad loves these. I have seen him laugh until he cried listening to Jonathan and Darlene.
posted by troublesome at 9:36 AM on December 2, 2011


I first came across them in their hilarious version of "Carioca" over the opening credits of Kentucky Fried Movie.
posted by yoink at 9:43 AM on December 2, 2011


I'm assuming that you are aware that they ARE Jo Stafford and Paul Weston...
I debated explicitly saying so in the original post and ultimately decided that I wanted to perpetuate the puzzlement to the extent possible on the internet; anyone who's really fascinated by them won't have to look far to discover the truth.
posted by usonian at 9:48 AM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


(That's why I immediately thought of "Miranda")
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:25 AM on December 2, 2011


Nice to hear the execrable "I Am Cartoon Feminist" crucified like that.

Christ, that's one of the relatively few songs that can literally make my skin crawl with embarrassment.
posted by Decani at 10:58 AM on December 2, 2011


Incidentally, there is only one version of Cocktails For Two.
posted by Decani at 11:09 AM on December 2, 2011


Reminds me of Wing who performed determinedly at Carnegie Hall, and who's unique voice and an ever-widening repertoire have earned her an international cult following. Here's her doing Beat It (mp3). More samples.

I'm not sure who her sponsor is, but the last time I checked, Carnegie Hall went for $50K a night.

By comparison, Jonathan and Darlene Edwards aren't so bad. They would make for a credible and creditable PTA performance.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:33 AM on December 2, 2011


My mother loved them, and claimed (she was a trained opera singer and pianist) that it was really, really difficult to play that badly.

She also liked to tell the story of when she put it on as background music at some banquet, and only one person seemed to notice how horrible it was.
posted by QIbHom at 11:54 AM on December 2, 2011


Grandpa introduced me to them, as well as to Spike Jones, as a kid. We'd sit there laughing ourselves into a stupor for hours at a time.

For the past 20 years or so, acts like this have hugely influenced me as a composer -- they're why I take music incredibly seriously and yet not seriously at all, and would much rather spend my musical life trying to make people laugh and smile, and leave the angsty emotional stuff to others.
posted by jake at 12:23 PM on December 2, 2011


Then there is the mother of them all, Florence Foster Jenkins. Here she is performing Mozart's Queen of the Night.
posted by TexArcane at 1:54 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love love love Jonathan & Darlene Edwards. Considering the talent of the people behind them, it is nearly baffling to me how they manage to do what they did. As someone upthread already said, if you have musical training, it is REALLY HARD to regress to that level of awful.

The difference between J&D and FFJ is that FFJ really had no talent, while "J&D" actually were renowned in real life in many ways for their musical work.
posted by hippybear at 2:58 PM on December 2, 2011


Stunning. I'm sad I'd never heard of this before. What's striking is the relative subtlety compared to parody nowadays. The comedy here is predicated on a reasonably high level of musical competence in its listeners: the way that she hits the same wrong notes in the chorus of Staying Alive every time, or the ridiculous piano flourishes Paul Weston plays that are much funnier if you're familiar with the way piano standards are usually played. Also, there is some wonderfully subtle use of comic timing here: the first 40 seconds of Moonlight Bay involve a chorus singing perfectly in tune but it's fucking hilarious because of the anticipation of what's coming.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 7:56 AM on December 3, 2011


What, no love for Mrs. Miller?
posted by jonp72 at 8:13 PM on December 3, 2011


Reminds me of Wing who performed determinedly at Carnegie Hall, and who's unique voice and an ever-widening repertoire have earned her an international cult following. Here's her doing Beat It (mp3). More samples.

I'm not sure who her sponsor is, but the last time I checked, Carnegie Hall went for $50K a night.


Can't verify it on the Web, but I remember reading somewhere that John Zorn was a fan.
posted by jonp72 at 8:14 PM on December 3, 2011


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