Song Of The Day 5/4/2016: Claudine Longet – “Let’s Spend the Night Together”

Quarterly Covers Report – Ahhh, Claudine Longet. That breathy simplicity, that cured French distance, those unchallenged volume meters. She was an actress and possibly a singer from Paris who married American easy listening and Christmas sweater icon Andy Williams in 1961, which I suppose means she got out of Paris just as that whole yé-yé craze was getting cranked up and hoofed it to the USA. She appeared on TV, often on her husband's variety show, but also on stray dramatic series like Run For Your Life. Attached to her stunning, statuesque yet petite frame, there was nothing those doe-like eyes couldn't offer in the way of comfort, desire and serenity. She was a drink of very room-temperature water: cool, but not chilly. From across the expanse of the mighty Atlantic, in Claudine Longet we found our real, live girl next door.

Oh, and also, she killed her boyfriend. Not Andy Williams, but Olympic skier Spider Sabich. And it was supposedly an accident. Longet testified that she unintentionally shot Spider while he was showing her how the gun worked. Personally I think it's pretty common knowledge exactly how a gun works. Maybe he was showing her how to engage the safety. In which case he obviously wasn't that great an instructor. Anyway, after prosecutors botched the trial Longet was convicted on the much lesser charge of negligent homicide, which carried a 30-day jail sentence which she served on weekends. After that she retreated from public life and hasn't really been seen since. Williams, who was a true mensch to Longet during her trial even though they were divorced, died in 2012.

This very Hollywood-like tragedy (even though it took place in Aspen, Colorado) was lampooned on Saturday Night Live in its first season. The sketch was "The Claudine Longet Invitational Ski Championship." Chevy Chase played a sports announcer narrating over stock footage of downhill skiers in competition. Just as each skier suffered a wipeout in the footage Chevy said, "Uh-oh, he seems to have been accidentally shot by Claudine Longet!" This was less than a week after the incident. Longet's lawyers were upset, and the next week Lorne Michaels actually apologized on the air. I'm gonna have to look through my SNL archives for that one.

I chose Longet's cover of the Rolling Stones' "Let's Spend the Night Together" for the very simple fact that the Stones recorded a spoof about the incident called "Claudine" ("Now she pistol-whipped me once or twice/But she never tried to take my life"). I just felt it would bring the thing full circle.

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