Gary Brown: Julie Andrews’ voice always was one of my favorite things

Gary Brown

We all should sing this to the tune of “My Favorite Things,” from “Sound of Music.”

“Maalox and nose drops and needles for knitting,

“Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,

“Bundles of magazines tied up in string,

“These are a few of my favorite things.”

It would help if we imagined Julie Andrews — a much older version of the actress who sang the song in the movie “Sound of Music” — singing these lyrics. She was supposed to have performed the parody of the song at a celebration of her 69th birthday on Oct. 1, 2004, according to one of those mass e-mails I received recently.

Except it seems she didn’t sing it.

It appears she couldn’t have sung the song, even if she’d found it funny.

The song's origin

And the parody is funny — as have been many of the parodies that have been made to the tune of “My Favorite Things” since Andrews sang it in the 1965 film.

“Over the years, it has been used to lampoon, well, just about everything,” notes a posting on the hoax-busting website “It was to be expected that sooner or later an ‘It’s tough to be an old geezer’ version would surface.”

The song continues.

“Hot tea and crumpets, and corn pad for bunions,

“No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,

“Bathrobes and heat pads and hot meals they bring,

“These are a few of my favorite things.” says that the “blue hair” version of the song appears to have first surfaced as a USENET newsgroup post in April 2001. By July 2001, posts were falsely saying that Andrews had performed it at a concert for AARP members. By the time the 2005 e-mail began circulating, the performance was at her 2004 birthday party at Radio City Music Hall.

Indeed, Oct. 1 is the singer’s birthday. And a rendition of the song with those lyrics likely would have earned her “a standing ovation from the crowd that lasted over four minutes.”

But, Andrews didn’t sing the song, nor did she perform “repeated encores,” as the e-mail suggests.

Since 1999, the posting explains, Andrews has barely sung in public at all, and the story behind this is far more compelling than the parody.

Operation gone bad

“Julie Andrews lost the ability to sing in 1997,” wrote poster Barbara “the sound of sadness” Mikkelson on March 19, 2005.

“That year she was admitted to Mount Sinai Hospital for the removal of a non-cancerous polyp on her vocal cords, and what should have been a simple surgical procedure went dreadfully wrong. Her multi-octave singing voice was virtually destroyed.”

“Not only didn’t Julie Andrews sing the ‘blue hair’ parody of ‘My Favorite Things’ for a Radio City Music Hall audience on her 69th birthday,” posted Mikkelson, “she couldn’t have.”

Ironically, though Mikkelson’s post quoted Andrews as saying she missed singing “very much indeed,” the singer perhaps could take some small amount of comfort from the humor shown in the final stanza of the parody that still circulates in e-mails.

“When the joints ache,

“When the hips break,

“When the eyes grow dim,

“Then I remember the great life I’ve had,

“And then I don’t feel so bad.”

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