Lenny and Judy

When I unloaded my huge LP collection years ago (I couldn’t schlep them around anymore), I divested myself of a lot of great albums (and album covers). Some may have even been collectable. Oddly enough though, the one I think of most often is Lenny Bruce Live at the Curran Theater in which he riffs on Judy Garland (from her Carnegie Hall Concert Album).

There are moments on albums that make you catch your breath: Miles Davis entrance on My Funny Valentine, or Thelonius Monk’s bridge on Ruby, My Dear. And then there’s Lenny when he riffs on Judy Garland. This comes at the end of the concert and at the end of the cut here on Last FM. You’ll need to listen to the whole thing, but it will be well worth it, when at about 21:20 when he stumbles (in his stream of consciousness style) on the word “lonesome”. Which seems to jog his memory.

Judy is finishing up her concert at Carnegie Hall and the applause is given over to her in an idolatrous manner. Deafening. If you remember Judy, you remember the open wound that she was, and she held none of it back.. She gave it all to her audience, for the applause and worship is what she lived for. It was the breath of her life.

The audience doesn’t want to release her. They want to share her pain, and by doing so, perhaps lessen it. Judy tells them, “Don’t worry. We’ll sing ’em all, and if we have to, we’ll stay here all night!”

Then Lenny’s voice gets low (he’s telling this parable of loneliness and public identity) and he quotes Judy: “Cause I never wanna go home…”

It’s a brilliant, stunning moment. One of Lenny’s best.



Filed under Sketches

2 responses to “Lenny and Judy

  1. I know the piece you are referring to:

    “Nobody wants to go back to the room alone.”

    It says so much about who Lenny Bruce was. Thanks for sharing that memory.

    Tom Degan

  2. Gordon Stevens

    I am suprised you did notmention Hugh Martins book,”Hugh Martin the boy next door”.A wonderful story of his life from Broadway to MGM and after.Many stories on Judy who he was good friends with.Hugh will be 97 this year and is still doing well.

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