Tuesday, February 17, 2009

But What If I Want to Walk Alone?

The theme to our songs in chorus this year is Musicals. I think there has been some stretching of what constitutes a musical, but for the most part, I have really been enjoying the music that the directors have chosen for us to sing.

In light of the beautiful harmonies we were able to produce from the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” as arranged by Mac Huff, I decided that I needed to watch Carousel, the musical from which it comes. We own it as part of a Costco packaging bonanza, but I had never seen it. That I could remember.

Once I started watching it, I remembered why I hadn’t seen it. I had aborted the viewing early on during my first attempt.

It is horrible! Sadly, it’s reported to be one of Oscar Hammerstein’s favorite collaborations with Richard Rodgers. Why? Because of its anti-hero, Billy Bigelow?


From scene 1 (or maybe 2) the viewer is concerned about the safety of Shirley Jones’ character, Julie Johnson. “Run, honey, run!” I felt like shouting out to the screen. I used the moment to discuss with my daughters all of the clues that she was missing, or for some inexplicable reason, overriding in her quest to be brave and not afraid of the Carousel barker. Happily, they were also appalled at her behavior.

The clincher for me, really, was the line toward the end of the movie when Julie is explaining to her daughter that “Yes, honey. I know how someone can hit you really hard and it doesn’t hurt at all.”

Nice parenting, Julie.

I couldn’t help but be reminded of such stupidity shortly after watching it as I was reading New Moon, the second in the Twilight series. In that novel another young girl who is in love with a werewolf basically resigns herself to the same fate – he loves me and he didn’t really mean to slash through half of my face. He’s hurting because of it, poor dear. While this is not the main character, Bella, she also has many dark issues of her own.

For the record, I am enjoying the romance in the Twilight series, but it descends dangerously too close into the depths of “it's okay if you physically hurt me – I love you” darkness.

As for me, I will continue to try to sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” as the uplifting song it was meant to be rather than the thinly-veiled threat of the physically controlling brute that I now see (or the anthem for the Liverpool football club).


Christina said...

Hmmm--I've not seen Carousel, either. Didn't know about the dark side of the song, and it's been a standard for decades.

What stretching are we doing in what constitutes a musical? Christmas Time is Here? Perhaps, that was seasonal for the November performance, though it's not out of the question for May. I had hoped to sing an Irving Berlin tune (can't remember which one), but we ran out of time. I'm kind of wishing Beethoven Day hadn't been my first choice. : ( Oh, well.

Ideas for next year's theme?

Lynne said...

You should see it - without kids. Sure it has some of the crazy nonsense that we know and love in musicals, but it's dark and icky.

CTiH and at least one, if not two others, I thought. I love the Beethoven parts in Beethoven day. I have no doubt that they will sound quite good and get a good reaction when we are well practiced.

CTiH sounded very pretty, by the way.

How about ancient songs? I don't know any off the top of my head, but that could be fun.

Christina said...

How ancient? I could go for a Music from the Middle Ages/Renaissance theme, but don't know how exciting that would be for the rest of the chorus. But I bet we could invite ourselves to sing at a Renaissance Faire or an SCA event.

Lynne said...

Oooh! Dress-up!

I think we have an in with the SCA!