"Turkey Lurkey Time" - Guilty Pleasures
It's that time again: Guilty Pleasures! You know what songs I am talking about. These are the musical numbers that may be corny, don't make sense, or simply offer so much joy that you are a bit embarrassed to admit that they make you pee a little each time you hear them. They seem to mostly live inside musical comedies. No one is going to call "What's the Use of Wonder'n" from Carousel a guilty pleasure. These songs belong in a world of musical theatre where all sense of logic can be lost and disbelief suspended. Musical comedy very often takes this bold step and provides the platform for nonsense.
This week, my guilty pleasure is "Turkey Lurkey Time" from the 1968 musical comedy Promises, Promises. Based on the Billy Wilder film The Apartment about a corporate shlub with no upward mobility who lends his apartment out to executives who are looking for a secret place to have their extramarital trysts, Promises, Promises is an odd choice for "musicalization". Nothing about the original screenplay says "This deserves to be sung about." if anything, the story rejects musical comedy convention with its cynical outlook and smaller-than-life characters. However, playwright Neil Simon, composer Burt Bacharach, and lyricist Hal David found a great deal to say about the longings and passions of these everyday people.
"Turkey Lurkey Time" is sung at the office Christmas Party and does nothing whatsoever to further the plot, but sure gives us a delightful opportunity for a dance break. Three office workers get the party started with what appears to be a little skit for their co-workers, singing about how it is time to eat turkey and goose. You pick the fowl. It's a wish for a Merry Christmas and not much else. The music, however, begins to come at us like a tidal wave of joy and orchestral orgasm. Pay attention to the brass section and how it rides hard and undaunted above all else. Soon the whole office has joined in on the fun and we want to stand up and bust a move ourselves. Okay - so it's not "Ol' Man River." Not everything has to be.