As Long As I Live: Jane Russell (1947)
I think it odd for songs to acknowledge mortality. Generally, songs are popularly liked because they have a way of eliminating the unpleasant aspects of life and redirecting our attention to a very exclusive, if completely false, interpretation of our existence. Me? I’m obsessed with death. But bring it up at a dinner party – you know, the fact that the only thing we truly have in common with each other is the eventuality of death – and you’ll feel the room get a little tighter.
What’s stranger than a pop song about death, is a physically endowed movie star singing a pop song about death. Look at the Jane Russell of 1947 and she is a picture of health, quite literally bursting with vigor, a fertility goddess reminding us all why we are here and how we arrived here. She looks immortal, and because she is forever preserved on film, she is immortal. And so it is complete nonsense to hear her sing, “I never cared, but now I’m scared I won’t live long enough.” Nonsense, but also a little disconcerting. After all, Jane Russell is now 89 years old. Like the rest of us, she is going to die.
The truth of the matter is that we will never live long enough to love our loved ones. There is a small window we poke our heads into for a few decades. We look around, say a few things, and leave. The best we can hope for is that someone else pops their head in, looks you in the eye, and says, “I love you, too.”