Singer Petula Clark has issued a statement conveying her dismay at her 1960s classic “Downtown” being blared from an explosives-laden recreational vehicle before it blew up in downtown Nashville Friday morning.
“I feel the need to express my shock and disbelief at the Christmas Day explosion in our beloved Music City. I love Nashville and its people,” wrote Clark on Facebook. “Why this violent act — leaving behind it such devastation?”
No motive has been offered by authorities for what they believe was a suicide bombing by suspect Anthony Q. Warner — and certainly no explanation has been offered for why he would have chosen “Downtown” to play between or after warnings to residents to flee the area, other than perverse irony. Clark shared her puzzlement at the choice.
“A few hours later, I was told that the music in the background of that strange announcement was me — singing ‘Downtown’!” she wrote. “Of all the thousands of songs — why this one?
“Of course, the opening lyric is ‘When you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go downtown.’ But millions of people all over the world have been uplifted by this joyful song. Perhaps you can read something else into these words — depending on your state of mind. It’s possible.”
Clark concluded, “I would like to wrap my arms around Nashville, give you all a hug, and wish you love, a happy and healthy New Year — and, as we sometimes say in the U.K., steady the Buffs! (Look it up!)” (The British catchphrase, which has a late 19th century military origin, is understood to mean stay calm and carry on.)
Clark, 88, has a career not just as a singer but a film, TV and stage actor going back to the ’40s. She maintained an active concert touring schedule as recently as the fall of 2019. After wrapping up that tour late last year, she stepped into the role of the Bird Woman in the West End run of “Mary Poppins.”
“Downtown,” written by Tony Hatch, was released in late 1964 and ascended to No. 1 in the U.S. for two weeks in January 1965. The song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003.