One of the most iconic stars in the history of British pop culture is going back to her musical roots.
‘Romantically Yours’ is the title of the most recent album by a woman who’s been a paragon of fashion for her entire adult life. Released in 2011 it has now gone on to sell 30,000 copies! It’s a hand-picked collection of all-new interpretations of pop and easy listening standards spanning several generations, each one of them a personal favourite of hers, from Gershwin and Rodgers & Hart to Neil Young and Janis Ian. The album also includes a guest vocal appearance by Twiggy’s daughter Carly Lawson, a guitar solo by Bryan Adams, and a version of Richard Marx’s ‘Right Here Waiting’ featuring duet vocals with the American songwriter himself.
‘Romantically Yours’ marks the resumption of the highly successful musical vocation that runs throughout her entire, remarkable story, and has embraced distinguished vocal achievements on film, stage and record, as well as chart singles and albums in the 1970s. It’s just that, by Twiggy’s own admission, her creative plate has been so full that it’s taken her a while to get back to one of her real passions.
It was at the turn of that decade that Twiggy, barely in her 20s but already a major world star for some five years, took her first leading role on the big screen in Ken Russell’s adaptation of the 1920s musical pastiche ‘The Boy Friend.’ That started some incredible adventures, in London’s West End and via Golden Globe Awards to Broadway, including TV shows with everyone from Bryan Ferry to Bing Crosby, her own top 20 UK hit single in 1976, the country-tinged ‘Here I Go Again’, and two top 40 albums, ‘Twiggy’ and ‘Please Get My Name Right.’
“People who know about the singing part of my career know about ‘My One & Only,’ the show I did on Broadway,” (with Tommy Tune, in 1983, and which she modestly omits to mention earned her a Tony Award nomination). “That’s all 1920s/’30s period music, which I love. My first film, ‘The Boy Friend’ was a pastiche on that sort of music, so we thought that was a smart way to go.” Hence the decision to leaf through the pages of the Great American Songbook and record versions of such timeless compositions as ‘Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,’ ‘My Funny Valentine,’ ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’ and ‘They Can’t Take That Away From Me.’
The song selection procedure started with Janis Ian’s achingly poignant ode to the agonies of teenage insecurity, ‘At 17.’ “They’re amazing lyrics, and they haven’t dated,” says Twiggy. “EVERY teenage girl has been through that, no matter what you look like, whether you’re pretty, ugly, fat, thin, small.”
Next came Chip Taylor’s pop perennial, ‘Angel Of The Morning.’ “That’s such a personal song to me and it’s a great song to sing,” she explains, “and we slowed it down a bit to make it more of a ballad, as the album’s called ‘Romantically Yours.’
Several other interpretations came about through personal connections. Twiggy cut Bryan Adams’ 1985 ballad ‘Heaven’ having become friends with the Canadian rock star via his other line of work, when he photographed her for a book in aid of a breast cancer charity. Talking about her love of Neil Young’s ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart,’ she pulls out an evocative period photograph that captures Twiggy and Neil posing for the camera during a chance meeting in a recording studio.
Twiggy describes ‘Right Here Waiting’ as “one of the most romantic songs ever”, Marx was happy to add his vocals to the new version.
Twiggy’s extraordinary career simply contains way too many surprising twists and turns to list here. But they all underline her open-minded versatility, from appearances in ‘The Blues Brothers’ to ‘The Muppet Show,’ from her own BBC shows to an American network TV sitcom, from judging on ‘America’s Next Top Model’ to writing a bestselling autobiography.
“I sang with Bing Crosby,” she says, scarcely believing her own memory. “We did ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ on the same special where he sang with David Bowie. And I got to meet my hero, Fred Astaire, that was mesmerising for me. A lot of these songs are very Astaire-ish.
Through Twiggy’s uniquely varied life, music has been a constant thread. “Everything I’ve ever done in my career, I’ve done because I wanted to do it,” she says. ‘Romantically Yours’ is yet another exciting new chapter.