An evening pause: From the Broadway musical Pippin.
The words from this song mean more and more to me, with each passing year.
Here is a secret I never have told.
Maybe you’ll understand why.
I believe if I refuse to grow old
I can stay young till I die.
Now, I’ve known the fears of sixty-six years.
I’ve had troubles and tears by the score.
But the only thing I’d trade them for Is sixty-seven more…
Oh, it’s time to start livin’.
Time to take a little from this world we’re given.
Time to take time, cause spring will turn to fall
In just no time at all.
And believe it or not, I see this also as a fitting song for Veterans Day.
An evening pause: From the 1958 movie of the great Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, South Pacific.
I first saw this movie as a child when I was around five years old. I didn’t understand the story really, and was especially puzzled by some lyrics, especially because my young mind took them very literally. (Just consider “I’m going wash that man right out of my hair!”)
What I do remember was that this song became one of my favorites throughout my early childhood. In hearing it recently again, I was struck by something I clearly remember, from that childhood. The song is about the draw of love and desire, which is what Bali Ha’i partly represents. However, Hammerstein’s lyrics refer to more, to the greater magic hidden in life everywhere, the mystery that lies behind the black, you might say. It is a theme he repeated in many of the songs he wrote for Richard Rodgers..
What struck me now was how I clearly remember, as a child of five, being very aware of this second somewhat sophisticated meaning. At first I was a little surprised that a child of five could comprehend such concepts, but then as Wordsworth wrote,
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
and not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
As a child I knew nothing of the sexual draw of Bali Ha’i, but I understood its mystical nature quite naturally. I have since spent my life trying to hold onto those “clouds of glory,” because they help connect us better to the enigma that is existence.
This version uses Juanita Hall’s own voice, from an earlier recording. For the movie they dubbed her singing because Rodgers no longer thought her aging voice sounded right.
An evening pause: From the Broadway musical Annie Get Your Gun. In January 2001, McEntire, a well known country singer, made her Broadway debut in the 2000 revival of the musical that was opened originally with Bernedette Peters in the role. McEntire was an instant sensation, performing the role on Broadway for eighteen months. In many ways this role made her, as it showed she could do far more than sing, and was in fact a very skilled comedic actor.
This clip, shot by an audience member, does a remarkable job of capturing part of one of those performances.
An evening pause: From the 1955 movie, Oklahoma. This Broadway musical is one of the best examples of the fundamental differences between American culture and what preceded it. In the past, all music, drama, fiction, etc, revolved around telling the stories of the powerful, the nobility, the rulers, and the great. In the United States, “of the people, for the people, by the people,” literature, art, drama, and music has focused instead mostly on the lives and concerns of ordinary people. In this musical, for example, the story is about how two ordinary cowpokes decide to give up their roaming ways to settle down and become farmers, all for love. And in doing so, Rogers and Hammerstein end up also telling the story of the American west as it transitioned from the wild west of gold rush boom towns and cattle drive cowboys into a settled society of cities and families.
An evening pause: An evocative song from a musical that is presently in development.
What I like about this video is how it reminds us that every image, every movie we see, especially the older ones, can only show us a image of a human being that no longer exists, and is essentially nothing more than a ghost to us.
An evening pause: The finale of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide. Just before the song begins, Candide says this:
We will not think noble, because we are not noble. We will not live in perfect harmony because there is no such thing in this world, nor should there be. We can only promise to do our best, and to live out our lives. Dear God, that is all we can promise in truth. Marry me, Cunegonde.
An evening pause: Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin sing “Move On” from Steven Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George.
Stop worrying where you’re going.
If you can know where you’re going,
Just keep moving on.
I chose and my world was shaken.
The choice may have been mistaken,
The choosing was not.
You have to move on.