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William Silk

Ultimate Buddy Song - Me and My Shadow Live Duet SILK

The ultimate clandestine best-friend buddy duet song: "Me and My Shadow", as popularized by the "Rat Pack" Vegas show-men Frank Sinatra & Sammy Davis Jr. in the 1960s and, more recently, in the 2000s by British friends Robbie Williams & Jonathan Wilkes.

The music is said to be by Dave Dreyer, lyrics by Billy Rose, and possibly some small contribution by Al Jolson, of "The Jazz Singer" fame. All are credited. First released in 1927, the song has become a standard, with many artists performing it.

What is fascinating to me is how this song has metamorphosed over time. It started out as a wistful song about a solitary existence or bachelordom - all alone, no one for company, just me and my shadow. The personification of "the shadow" is a cute invention for the solitary protagonist to pretend he has company.

And yet, this shadow-personified has come to take on different meanings, innuendos, euphemisms and jokes over time, referring to an actual partner, clandestine, dark, hidden, in the shadows or in the closet or on the fringe of society. The shadow character, acted out, would not be out of place in the "black-face" entertainment of the Al Jolson era, and the racial reference possibly made further social comment during the tensions the civil-rights era; the bipartisan bachelor image could easily have been spun to insinuate the once-upon-a-time taboo of a gay but closeted homosexual relationship, or even the shadow could even represent shadowy government, CIA / KGB spooks & spy skull-duggery during the height of the Cold War. If James Bond 007 didn't get so many girls, we might have to wonder about his buddy Felix Lighter.... It is all about the clandestine relationship, the clandestine revelry of a friendship that is either forbidden or taboo or just downright beyond the Pale and your parents or teachers or bosses or the authorities just wouldn't understand ....

So, with its slapstick qualities, "Me & My Shadow" was a very popular tune to perform live at shows and give it your own little twist.

And the Rat Pack certainly gave it their own twist in the swinging 60s. What could be more clandestine and fun than Mafia infused Las Vegas in the 60s? By the time they had finished with it, the song became an unrelenting homage to "anything goes" debauched revelry, hitting all the late spots in town, with that bad best pally you were warned off by your responsible family & friends. You know, the one that gets you into trouble and all kinds of mischief. No closet shadows here - he is the quintessential drinking buddy, wingman, player, hooligan, Don Juan, Tyler Durden, rebel without a cause, Bad Bad Leroy Brown, etc. Ultimately a product of his era - that devil-may-care era has passed through America in the 60s, through Japan in the 80s; it may be coming next to China or then Brazil - who knows?

Moreover, the notion of "the shadow" has also risen meteorically in 20th Century psychology as a representation of our alter-ego, as popularized by the classic comic book super-hero, who hides his alter-ego from potentially harmful villains, and carries out his heroic activities in clandestine fashion. Bruce Wayne = Batman, Clark Kent = Superman, Peter Parker = Spiderman, to mention but a few. The shadow in this song has perhaps picked up some of these alter-ego associations as well over the century.

Above all, Me & My Shadow has come be about friendship and fun and this has to be done in the best possible taste. Tuxedos help. Our performance here is based on the Rat Pack 60s version with a little Jonny & Robbie thrown in for effect, but it is an innocent revel, pitched to a slightly raucous Japanese audience at an otherwise civilized & joyous occasion. All quite clean cut and above board. Our thanks to the fabulous Big Band behind us. So why include all this colorful murmuring? The keywords, those delicious keywords, dear youtube friends!!

Great Buddy combinations:
James Bond 007 & Felix Lighter
Gilbert & Sullivan
Butch Cassidy & Sundance Kid
John Lennon & Paul McCartney
Laurel & Hardy
Richard Pryor & Gene Wilder
The Two Ronnies
Japanese Manzai Comedy Duos
Ant & Dec
Tyler Durden & Fight Club Narrator .....
Who have I left out? if you can think of any more awesome buddy combinations then please add them in the comments below!

Happy New Year 2011
The Year of ...
Building Communities & Strengthening Friendships!!
Best wishes

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