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Petula Clark shocked Nashville bomber played 'Downtown'

Petula Clark in 2017 in London.

Petula Clark in 2017 in London. Credit: Getty Images/Tim P. Whitby

British music icon Petula Clark, whose 1964 hit "Downtown" has endured as a joyful testament to the power of community, has decried the use of her song by the Nashville bomber, who played it over a loudspeaker on Christmas morning from the RV that exploded in the heart of that Tennessee city.

"I feel the need to express my shock and disbelief at the Christmas Day explosion in our beloved Music City," two-time Grammy Award winner Clark, 88, wrote Tuesday on Facebook. "I love Nashville and its people. Why this violent act — leaving behind it such devastation? A few hours later — I was told that the music in the background of that strange announcement — was me — singing 'Downtown'! Of all the thousands of songs — why this one?"

She said of the song by composer-songwriter Tony Hatch: "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."

Authorities believe the suspect died in the explosion.

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!)."

"Steady, the Buffs" is a British colloquialism of "self-admonition or self-adjuration or self-encouragement," according to the standard text "A Dictionary of Catch Phrases, American and British, From the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day" by etymologists Eric Partridge and Paul Beale. Roughly equivalent to "keep your chin up" or "steady as she goes," the phrase originated with the British Army's East Kent Regiment, known as the Buffs, possibly for their buffalo-leather accoutrements. According to lore, a colonel during the 1808-14 Peninsular War, in Spain, shouted at the eager-to-fight soldiers, "Steady, the Buffs! Give [fellow regiment] the Slashers a chance!"

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