Saturday 9: Diana (1957)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
1) Legend has it that Paul Anka wrote this song about his favorite babysitter. In your younger days, did you make a little extra money as a sitter? More than a little. I charged $1/hour back in the mid-70s, when my classmates were making about $1.25/hour working at the mall or McDonald's. I also told the parents I charged $2 after midnight. Nobody ever balked. In fact, I was in demand and always got tips on top of that. It wasn't unusual for me to make $20 on a single Saturday night, which was just a little less than my friends made all week at their after school jobs. (Adjusted for inflation, that would be about $75 today.) Considering I did nothing but watch TV, drink Coke and eat potato chips once the kids were asleep, it seemed like a far better gig than asking if you wanted fries with that. Of course, if I wanted to go out on Saturday night I had to choose between fun and money.
2) Paul sings he doesn't care what "they" say about his love for an older girl. Have you ever had a romantic relationship that your friends or family didn't approve of? Maybe. My mom knew better than to criticize HIM (whoever HE happened to be) because she understood that would just make me hold him closer.
3) Paul was once a choirboy, singing with the St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral choir in Ontario. Have you ever performed with your church choir? When I was in grade school, our Sunday School class occasionally performed special songs and of course there was a Christmas pageant. But once I got into high school, nah. I'm tone deaf and wouldn't have made the choir.
4) When Paul was 15, he left Ontario to find fame and fortune in New York. He had $100 in his pocket, a gift from his uncle. Tell us about someone in your life who who believed in you and encouraged you. My uncle was sent me $160. It was 1978, I was in ongoing, miserable pain and needed a root canal and crown. I didn't have dental insurance, nor did I have the $160 to get the procedure done. To put the $160 in perspective, that was more than my entire week's take-home pay. My rent in those days was $300. I was trying very hard to be independent, but my mom called one night and I started to cry because of the unremitting agony. She didn't have the money just sitting around, either, but she knew who did. She called her brother and voila! A check showed up in the mail with note that just said, "Happy Birthday/Merry Christmas." I called and told him I couldn't accept it because I could never pay it back. He told me that's why he was happy to give it to me -- he knew I wouldn't advantage of his generosity. He believed in my integrity and respected me for not just running to the relative with the deepest pockets.
5) Paul seldom gets credit for one of his most familiar compositions: the theme to The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Since Johnny retired in 1992, The Tonight Show has been hosted by Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, and Jimmy Fallon. Which of these Tonight Show hosts is your favorite? Johnny. Of the more recent vintage, I like Fallon best, but I seldom watch him when it's broadcast. Just clips I catch afterward. Whereas Johnny was appointment TV.
6) In 1978, Paul Anka hired Las Vegas' first female bartender for his restaurant, Jubilation. Where did you most recently dine out? Tuesday I filled up on appetizers at Adamus Restaurant and Lounge in Chicago's Silversmith Hotel. It was our friend Gregory's birthday. One of his friends works for the hotel and sent the food over to make our get together more festive. It made me happy. Now that I'm retired, I really appreciate freebies!
7) In 1957, when "Diana" was a hit, Wham-O began producing Frisbees. The toy was a massive success, even outselling the hula hoop. Do you enjoy tossing a Frisbee? Nope. I'm terrible at it.
8) Also in 1957, the book Peyton Place was made into a blockbuster film. Book lovers often say that, no matter what, the movie is never as good as the book. Do you think that's true? No. The Godfather is a lyrical, multi-layered movie and a lurid, trashy book. PS I finally read Peyton Place during covid and discovered it wasn't about sex at all. I think it was about the toxicity of secrets. It was a better book than I expected.
9) Random question: This Saturday, the treat's on Sam. Will you have buttered popcorn, caramel corn or cheese popcorn? I'll pass. I still have a temporary crown on my right side and fear what any popcorn would do to it. Funny, but I was having dental work done in 1978 and I'm having it done now. It's an ongoing, seemingly forever thing with me.