Susan Boyle's victory is Revenge of the Nerds writ large. Writ gloriously large. If you've ever been ditched by your "best friend" on a cold, rainy night with no easy way to get home; ever invited 50 (or more) people to your birthday party and gotten 6 (or fewer); ever been told sorry, you need to get out of the car because someone more important than you needs a ride to the party; ever gotten a note saying the doctors should have just plain let you die when they had the chance — you can hold her to your heart.
Will breaking that tape make for a sea change? I don't know. I can hope. You might wave her victory like a banner or a rude finger in the face(s) of whosoever puts you down. I'm enough of a half-assed Buddhist to think the fundamental problem isn't anyone's win or loss, but the need to make winners and losers out of everything in society. We slice ourselves away from compassion. Our loser-winner focus shields us from the discomfort needed for deep understanding. We absorb victorious losers into the winner's column and keep playing the game.
The music? Surprisingly satisfactory! She doesn't rock and rarely rolls, but her sheer power transforms "Wild Horses" straight out of the gate, replacing Mick's affectionate goodbye with a declaration of fealty, however twisted. The Monkees' "Daydream Believer" turns out to be about...well, nothing much once you look at the lyrics, but she burrows deeper than Davy Jones into San Diegan John Stewart's melody, finding hearth, hope, and dedication. Gospel numbers fit right to her testifyin' pipes. She even wavers and frays a bit on "Proud," imagining, no doubt, the mother missing out on this moment. I wish her a long, complex career of influence and example.
- Album: I Dreamed a Dream (2010)
- Artist: Susan Boyle
- Label: Sony Music
- Songs: (1) Wild Horses (2) I Dreamed A Dream (3) Cry Me A River (4) How Great Thou Art (5) You'll See (6) Daydream Believer (7) Up To The Mountain (8) Amazing Grace (9) Who I Was Born To Be (10) Proud (11) The End Of The World (12) Silent Night