Here’s To Life

Call it coincidence, or the work of spirits, but a few hours after I posted yesterday’s blog entry, Shirley Horn’s husband had his California friend to call John again. Shirley is indeed conscious, aware of what she sees and hears, even though she is unable to speak. John was able to call and speak to her while her husband held the phone to her ear; “she smiled when she heard your voice,” he told John.

The voice, whether used in speech or song, is a powerful instrument. When I was in the hospital with a breathing tube that rendered me speechless, the voices of friends calling from the opposite coast were comforting, but the most uplifting call of all was Joe Williams singing Here’s To Life a capella over the phone. I wish Joe were still here to sing it to Shirley.

Here’s To Life is a beautiful song by Artie Butler* who originally intended the song for Sinatra. Ol’ Blue Eyes passed on it, so Artie gave it to Joe, who performed it many times in concert, especially when accompanied by an orchestra. Joe wanted to record it, but only if he could do so with strings. The record company didn’t want the expense and so when Gitane came up with the money for Shirley to record with strings, Shirley called Artie, Artie called John who then called Joe, who, being his gracious self said, “but of course Shirley can record it.” Shirley’s CD, “Here’s To Life” was released by Polygram in 1992. Two years later, Joe recorded in England with Robert Farnon’s orchestra, and his “Here’s To Life” CD was released by Telarc.

Shirley is a fighter, and your prayers and well-wishes will give her strength. Cards and flowers may be sent to her at:

Gladys Spellman Specialty Hospital and Nursing Center
2900 Mercy Lane
Cheverly, MD 20785

*lyrics were written by Phyllis Molinary