"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Our first glimpse is of her eating a sandwich, seated in a plain room with blue-cushioned, utilitarian chrome chairs. Her medium brown hair is curled, but not professionally done. She wears a lovely gold gown, scooped modestly low in the front. She appears middle-aged, with a woman’s full figure. A numbered sticker is on her bosom, just above the scoop of the gown, perhaps a last minute concession to modesty. The number 14321. She admits to being a bit nervous. A matronly Mary Poppins comes to mind. Her number is called. She leaves the ready-room and approaches the curtains. Before her is a vast, empty stage. “I’ve always wanted to sing in front of a large audience. I’m going to make that audience watch,” she vows in a voice ripe with determination. Then, with that same determination in her stride, she walks to center stage, a microphone in her hand.

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high and life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving….

In front of the audience, on a raised dais, two men and a woman are seated, as if in judgment of her. Actually, they are there to judge her. One man speaks, a very well-known man who is famous for cutting, sarcastic comments and straight talk. He calls her “darling” when he asks where she’s from. He verges on being obsequious. She explains she’s from a collection of small villages, known as West Lothian. It takes her a moment to recall the word “village,” which only adds to the surreal ambience of this scene. She says she is forty-seven, and jeer-like groans escape softly from the audience.

Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted…

She comes from a musical family in Scotland, one of nine children. She has worked in community service and is a “keen” church-goer. She is unemployed, “but looking,” and lives with her cat as her companion. She has been singing since she was twelve, in her village, in karaoke clubs, her choir.

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
As they turn your dreams to shame…

She has always wanted to be a professional singer, but says she’s never had the chance. This night, she hopes, will change that. And then she says she wants to be as famous as Elaine Paige, the First Lady of the British musical theater. It seems an impossible dream for this woman. Muffled snickers are heard, and eye rolls come from the well-known man seated before her. The other two keep their faces expressionless, perhaps being polite.

And still I dreamed he’d come to me
That we would live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather…

The three judges before her seem skeptical, resigned to a few minutes of embarrassing amateurish singing. She seems unperturbed. Looking to stage left, she raises her thumb, the signal to start the recorded music. A button is punched and the opening bars begin. She stands with the microphone to her mouth, a serious expression on her face. And then, just before her cue, her face is suffused with a cheeky smile, her eyes bright and impish. She knows something we don’t.

She starts to sing, and she is transformed….

I had a dream my life would be
So different than the hell I’m living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed...

The final notes are lost in cheers and clapping. Two of the judges are on their feet, giving her a standing ovation along with the audience, which has been standing more than it has been seated. One judge remains seated, but a previous camera shot says it all: elbows propped on the table, chin in his hands, wonder in his eyes. He breathes a huge sigh and a smile appears. He could be a young man in love, gazing upon a fair princess.

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high and life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving...

She blows a kiss to the audience, then turns and walks towards the curtains at stage left…

Not so fast there, Susan Boyle of West Lothian. Your dream is alive and well. Your mother, the one you promised, would be proud of you. The world is in love with you, cheeky grin and all. You can stop looking for work now. You were sent to this earth with a gift of singing, and may you do so the rest of your days.

Ms. Boyle says she is “gobsmacked” at the reaction to her performance.
To see and hear Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent:

(Lyrics of “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Miserables” by Herbert Kretzmer, Alain Boubil, and Claude-Michel Schoneberg, adapted from the novel by Victor Hugo.)


  1. Perfect. Now that's how I should've written it. Sometimes I'm too cynical for my own good.

  2. I received your e-mail yesterday and viewed the youtube video. At first, I thought it was a rigged video. I couldn't believe Susan was actually singing with that beautiful voice. I assumed she was lip singing or syncing or whatever it's called. I called Lon in to get his opinion and right away he said he'd seen Susan on TV that morning.

    So we watched it again and again and I no longer doubted this unbelievable woman. I'm thrilled to pieces for her!!

    (I'd truly thought it was a joke--talk about being cynical and doubtful!)

  3. I only wished I sang as good. On my debut Friday night I fulfilled a wish that was on my bucket list, but could never compete with her. She was awesome. MsMillie