(This post is randomly interspersed with photos from the last couple of weeks. Because I felt like it.)
Back in the 90’s, I listened to records – yes, records, and in fact I miss them somewhat, much though I love the transportability of digital music – and one of the records I listened to the most was the movie-cast recording of “The Music Man” soundtrack. It was special because Mom and Dad were both in the play (at different times) when they were single, and special because I enjoyed most & loved several of the songs. I also claimed (complained) that it had the most love songs of any movie I knew. A few weeks ago I finally bought the soundtrack digitally, though all I could find was the Broadway-cast version, so of course it isn’t the exact nuances and voices that I grew up singing along with *sigh* BUT it’s very good.
Several things have been going through my head today that tie in somewhat with the songs from “The Music Man,” so I thought I’d do a themed post here about it.
A list produced by my class; A beautiful full moon plays with the clouds
My favorite thing about the “Music Man” soundtrack is probably the barbershop music. I think that was the main reason I finally caved and bought it – to have some good recordings of “Lida Rose,” “Sincere,” and “Goodnight Ladies” (and the Broadway version has one more song!!!) I really love barbershop music. This is no doubt mostly to my father’s credit, since he loves it too and introduced me to it as a child. I only remember three times of hearing it live, Lake Winnipesaukee, at a park somewhere in Virginia Beach, and at Hong Kong Disneyland, so it’s precious. I’ve hunted down a few YouTube videos – this one and this one, two parts of one performance, are particular favorites of mine – but the quality just can’t compare with live shows or at least good studio recordings.
All of that said, there was a women’s barbershop group at the show Dad and I went to in VB. I only remember the main line of the refrain, “I’m a Renaissance woman in a Diet Coke world.” The main theme being, I am wide and curvy, and thus would be more valued in the 1500s, when such a figure was desirable in a woman, rather than today’s world, in which skinny-yet-still-hugely-curvy is the image practically painted on the inside of our eyelids. (Or at least that’s how I interpret it.) The idea of being a woman of that era resonates with me, not just the figure but also the expectation that went with womanhood then: bearing a bunch of kids, running a household, and teaching the kids both to love God and how to read, write, etc, at home. Of course, I can’t use that as an excuse to not take care of my body, nor would I probably like the lack of indoor plumbing, air conditioning, recorded music, and mass market paperbacks. But our I find the lies of our culture hard to get out of my skull. Sure, I *know* the truth – that it’s what inside that counts, that we should take good care of our bodies but the way we’re built or current state of them doesn’t lower or raise our value as a person, that everyone deserves love and is loved by God. But then I catch thoughts lurking in myself when I try to lose weight – “Maybe after I lose 20 pounds, then I’ll get married!” – or celebrate a friend’s wedding – “What does it say that the slimmest single woman I know here is the one getting married? Are some of those lies true?” – and I have to literally take the thought captive and force it into alignment with the Truth. Paul was not kidding, it’s a battle, and the enemy sneaks in and sets up camp and then suddenly springs up in opposition to what you know is true!
“The Sadder But Wiser Girl.” I caught myself singing that song today and had to stop myself – several times – by singing a praise song. No, I don’t pray for Hester to win just one more “A.” As an aside, I remember the first time I finally “got” that reference, after reading The Scarlet Letter in eleventh grade, and the large number of times I heard it before that reassures me a bit that I can show such movies to my kids and they won’t automatically know what he’s singing about. (Well, I did have a pretty good idea what it was about before I was 16, but you know, not all at once and not when I was 9, or 6, or whenever I first heard it.) On the other hand, the fact that I still catch myself singing a song about preferring sexually experienced and disgraced women, despite knowing full well what he’s singing about, is probably just as strong an argument to NOT expose my own children to it.
“You’ll find it in Balzak.” Yeah, it’s fun to get literary references. This one, of course, I still don’t understand (see post title), but others (such as Hester) I do get. Are the special feeling of inclusion you get, and the wider range of pre-explained scenarios, feelings, characters, etc, available to writers and speakers, reason enough to keep teaching these books in schools? Probably not (there are better reasons), but for me they are! 🙂 They also explain why it takes so long to really be fluent in a new homeland – you not only have to learn the meanings of words, you have to learn what on earth they’re referring to. For a very good illustration of this, watch the “Star Trek: the Next Generation” episode titled “Darmok.”
“Goodnight, My Someone.” This was my favorite song when I was just beginning to be romantic. I still like it, though I don’t sing it very often – I figure praying for my someone is more effective, but sometimes a song still expresses my feelings best and I suppose the Father understands.
Okay, this next one is a small story that I’m only just now able to tell (I am SO easily embarrassed, and awkward around guys! I can celebrate getting older with the fact that some stories are finally passing the statute of limitations on making me want to melt into the earth… at least when I’m only typing and not talking face-to-face!)
“Being in Love” – So, my favorite PART of a song, starting sometime later in my teens, was the little piece in this song that goes thus:
“All I want is a plain man
All I want is a modest man
A quiet man, a gentle man
A straightforward and honest man
to sit with me
In a cottage
Somewhere in the state of Iowa.
And I would like him to be
More interested in me
Than he is in himself
And more interested in us
Than in me. (* here I insert some thought about how her priorities aren’t QUITE straight)
And if occasionally he’d ponder
What made Shakespeare and Beethoven great,
Him I could love till I die.
Him I could love till I die.“
(One good reason to hold out for the movie soundtrack is that it has this piece nestled in the song “Being in Love,” which is sweet and funny, while the Broadway version has it in the middle of a prayer to Aphrodite titled “My White Knight,” which is lousy.)
So, to the story: I was hiking in the mountains – OK, foothills – of LA with three friends: my roommate Trisha, and two brothers, all four of us college seniors studying film-making there for the semester. We were talking about this and that as we went, and the conversation took a literary bent, and one or both of the brothers said something quite witty or insightful about Shakespeare, and I instantly thought of that song. NOT that I wanted to love that particular man till I expired (totally awesome though they both were), just that it was the first time I’d spotted a perfect example of “And if occasionally he’d ponder….” So I asked Trisha, “Have you seen ‘The Music Man’?” And the brothers replied, “Yeah, we were in that play in high school.” And I instantly changed the subject and hoped like mad they didn’t connect it to what we’d just been talking about, because of course, awkward being that I am, I could not (and still cannot) face the idea of saying something along the lines of, “Oh, because your conversation just reminded me of the main character’s description of the perfect man, which I happen to rather agree with, and isn’t that funny?” to any single male not related to me.
So, those were a few of my thoughts and memories this afternoon. What musicals are powerful memory-holders for you?