- 03 Apr 01
Andy Williams may have a reputation as a bland M.OR. crooner but beneath the squeaky clean showbiz facade lurks an interesting man indeed, who reveals a knowledge of modern art, a past laced with drug use and an unhealthy interest in Shirley Temple. Joe Jackson travels to Branson, Missouri to hear his confessions.
Stepping from the foyer into the backstage area of Andy William’s Moon River Theatre in Branson, Missouri one could easily get lost in a cultural chasm. This one is as deep as the twilight zone. Behind me stand walls that may as well be positioned in any room in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, as they display exhibits from the singer’s private collection of works by Abstract Expressionists. Yes, that is an original Jackson Pollock . . .
On the other hand, to my left stands Huggy Bear, a relic from those Andy Williams Christmas Specials RTE used to screen when many of us were children. He’s just shuffled off-stage leaving Andy to sing ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ and ‘America The Beautiful’ against the backdrop of a neon-lit stars and stripes flag before ending this afternoon’s show with, yes, you’ve guessed it, ‘Moon River.’
“What does the word ‘kitsch’ mean?” enquires Williams, a few minutes later. He’s trying to interpret what I just told him I thought of the performance. We’re walking together towards his backstage office cum apartment. When I explain, he laughs, begins to unbutton his tuxedo and says “yeah, that sure sounds like what’s happening during parts of our show.” Excusing himself, he then goes off to change into a T-shirt and track suit pants returns, still mulling over the exact meaning of the word ‘kitsch’. His charm is as obvious as his intelligence – Yet neither are as surprising, or refreshing, as his total lack of affectation and his honesty.