Sunday, January 9, 2011

My Favorite Melodies

As a little girl growing up, the music selections that played throughout my house were limited to classical, classic rock, and musicals. My Fair Lady, Oklahoma!, West Side Story, the Sound of Music, Show Boat, the King and I. We owned records, then tapes, then compact discs, and while the sound quality improved, the music remained timeless, brilliant, and untouchable. Where today's new musicals speak in song, with sometimes absent rhyming or continuity, the era of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Alan Jay Lerner, and Leonard Bernstein wrote poetry to music, a love letter played to a soundtrack. These musicals taught us about racism and segregation, cultures of the world, history, but most of all love. Songs like "If I Loved You" (Carousel) and "People Will Say We're in Love" (Oklahoma!) are like a first dance, a first kiss, the moment you realize that you're falling. What is especially beautiful is that the songs carry such proclamations of devotion, and state that it is possible, even moments after meeting someone, to be so overwhelmed that to burst into song is the only way to express the emotion. To call them romantic is an understatement. After the characters have finished singing, they are in love, because these songs have the power to say it all.

I have often walked down this street before;
But the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before.
All at once am I Several stories high.
Knowing I'm on the street where you live. 
My Fair Lady

I know how it feels to have wings on your heels,
And to fly down the street in a trance.
You fly down a street on the chance that you meet,
And you meet - not really by chance. 
The King and I


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