the joys of a good song…

I just found out that Emmy Rossum has a new CD out. If you remember, she played Christine Daaé in the movie version of The Phantom of the Opera, so she can definitely sing. Of course, with my goals for the year including noEmmy-Rossum-album-cover music or book purchases, that meant I couldn’t immediately download it. Blast. So, I went back to what I did when I was in Australia… listening to the songs on YouTube. That website is a wonderful thing for those who want good music, but are trying to be frugal.

Rossum’s Sentimental Journey seems to be a collection of oldies stretching from the 1920’s to the 1960’s, and though I haven’t even finished listening to all of them, it’s already a great listen. If you like to listen to real “oldies”, sung by an amazing “new” vocalist, this album is probably for you.

It’s interesting, finding some great new music at the same time that I’m getting back into watching The Voice Australia, which has just begun its second season. For those of you who love America’s The Voice, I’m sorry, but I’ve never been a fan. Not because of how they find the singers, I think being judged on your voice, solely, is a fantastic way of doing things. But tumblr_mhbo2cwVwR1qzoaqio1_1280while I have a liking for Blake Shelton, as a person and because he’s a country singer, the few times I’ve watched our version of The Voice, I get really annoyed with the judges.

Don’t get me wrong, they can all sing, especially Christina Aguilera, but I don’t find them very likeable, as a group, and I find CeeLo to be a bit of a perv. Maybe it’s because they all come across as being full of themselves. I will admit to never watching beyond the Blind Auditions, so maybe things improve.

But if you’ve never gone looking for The Voice Australia, online, then you don’t know what you’re missing. It was a bit disappointing when Keith Urban left the show, but thus far, Ricky Martin is doing a brilliant job of replacing him. Keith is probably a bit wasted on American Idol, amidst the crazy panel of judges, because he’s a REALLY good coach. But I hear he has some of the best constructive criticism on their panel, without attempting to steal the spotlight from the rest of the judges.

I don’t know if most Americans would be aware that Joel Madden is an amazing coach and musician, because aside from Good Charlotte, he’s a bit more famous for marrying Nicole Richie. Speaking of which, last season, Joel sang a duet with his father-in-law, Lionel Richie, and if you missed it, I just plain feel sorry for you.

Seal, who coached Karise Eden (audition, finale) to the winning spot, is 558889_452782128135558_147501053_nalso a fantastic coach. He has a way with words that makes Joel Madden refer to him as “the guru” and a “master of the Matrix”.

And until I started watching this show, I had never heard of Delta Goodrem, who is one of Australia’s biggest stars. For those of us who are accustomed to hearing Andrea Bocelli or Josh Groban sing “The Prayer” with Celine Dion, Delta has sung it with both of them, on international tours. And on top of her amazing skills as a coach and performer, she’s just plain nice! She may look slightly like Aguilera, because she’s blonde, but the two are nothing alike. Delta Goodrem is the type of person you want for your best friend, while Christina Aguilera is the type you want to keep away from dating your younger brothers (even if she CAN sing).

My family keeps wondering what I’m laughing at, when I’m watching The Voice Australia, because it sounds like I’m watching a funny movie or a Castle episode. But no, it’s because the judges can be so hilarious! They tease each other like a family, not with subtle/painful digs that make you think they’re having cat fights behind the scenes. They genuinely enjoy each other and are searching for performers that they can work with, in order to give back to the next generation.

And the talent? If you’ve never heard of Rachael Leahcar, Karise Eden, Darren Percival, Lakyn Heperi, and the rest, you need to look them up. Already, Season 2‘s lineup is stacking up to outmatch them, though it’s hard to believe. Look up The Voice Australia: Season 2 on YouTube, and watch Harrison Craig, Chris Sheehy, Kaity Dunstan, and Luke Kennedy. Phenomenal.

I think every person that likes to sing will watch a show like this, or American Idol and The X Factor, and wonder if they could do that. Could they get up on stage and become the next Kelly Clarkson or Susan Boyle? Of course, if you think you have a decent voice, you also wonder if you’d be slammedDelta Goodrem by Simon Cowell, if you got up there (the less humble “singers”, for some reason, never expect this). But after watching The Voice Australia, and seeing how hard these fledgling musicians have worked in order to get where they are, I can see that you need to want music more than anything, to put it all on the line, like they do. Plenty of people will go up and make idiots of themselves, because their families mistakenly think they can sing, but the true singers and performers will never give up until they succeed.

So, while I enjoyed singing my head off while cleaning the shower (no, I don’t sing when I’m IN the shower), I know that even if my voice was good enough for the stage, I wouldn’t go on those shows. I wouldn’t like being in the public eye, I don’t like following directions when it comes to my voice (hence, I avoided ever taking any chorus classes in school), and I wouldn’t like having to do gigs all over the place. These singers thrive on it! I would shrivel up. I’m a writer who likes to sing, not a singer that likes to write.

But while I don’t have anymore “lullaby the baby” posts for you (no bubs to sing to, lately), I can still belt out the Broadway, with or without my headphones on. Maybe it’s because cleaning can be dull, if you don’t try to keep things entertaining. I spent five years of my life, cleaning the campgrounds from top to bottom, and I sang my heart out, the whole way. I still wonder if the walls soak it up, to spill out in some future era.

In case you were wondering, my Broadway cleaning songs come from some of my favorite musicals (the stage musicals, NOT the movies!), from Beauty & the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Les Miserables, Wicked, and Jane Eyre, to The Music Man, Oliver!, Cats, JaneeyrecoverSouth Pacific, and My Fair Lady. I know some of you, who haven’t heard me talk about musicals before, are already preparing to argue with me that The Little Mermaid and Jane Eyre are movies, not musicals. Well, you would be wrong, and I wish I could have seen them on the stage. Want to know where Sierra Boggess got her Broadway start, before progressing to Love Never Dies (the nightmare Phantom sequel)? The answer is The Little Mermaid: The Musical. And, of course, Marla Schaffel and James Barbour were beyond fantastic in Jane Eyre: The Musical.

So, I had to get some music ramblings out of my system, so forgive me if I jumped all over the place. And now, I’m looking forward to the Blind Auditions on The Voice Australia, this week. Especially because an acquaintance from Emerald, QLD, will be performing. And if any of my Aussie friends tell me the results, beforehand, I will be VERY upset with them!  : )

to sing like no one is listening…

While looking at my stats page on WordPress, I came across an interesting search term. Someone had found my blog by typing in “What does sing like no one’s listening mean?”. It occurred to me that during the almost two years I have been writing my blog, I have never covered this topic. It seems obvious to me, but quite possibly, no one else gets why I named this blog Sing Like No One’s Listening.

Even my closest friends are so used to seeing my necklace that they rarely pay any attention to it. Every once in a while, some observant passerby will suddenly realize there’s a word on it. You may try and read it without me catching you, but it generally ends awkwardly, so most people don’t even try. To the general public, it looks like hieroglyphics, when turned sideways. On one side, it says “Sing” and on the other, it says “like no one can hear you”.

I really need to get a new charm, as I’ve almost worn this one out. I keep checking, when I go to Kohl’s, but they don’t have it anymore. One of these years, I’ll trip over another charm, before this one completely dissolves. The chain is actually on the third go-round, as my Bubby managed to break two of them, when I was in Australia. I bought a much stronger chain, before returning home.IMG_8791

I have always loved to sing. I grew up listening to musicals, learning all the words, and singing along at top volume. Singing around my house is as natural as breathing, but I’m a bit shy about singing when anyone else is nearby. When I was a housekeeper in PA, I would sing my head off, while cleaning cabins, bathrooms, and motel rooms, all during the off season. During the summer, there were too many people around to do that.

Most of the time, I had my headphones on, with Broadway tunes keeping me going, with the occasional folk tune thrown in. But I can do just fine from memory, with no mp3 player to listen to. As I said, I have tons of them memorized. But with the music cranked up, I can’t always tell if someone is walking up behind me, which is why Donna and Martain occasionally managed to scare the daylights out of me.

As soon as I realize someone is nearby, though, I usually stop. I’m very self-conscious about singing in front of others, and only rarely do I sing solo in front of any group. I will only do so if I truly believe that the Lord wants me to, and sometimes that takes some convincing (and lots of prayer). The last time was probably at a ladies’ conference, 4-5 years ago. Now, if you’ve been around me at a conference, when I’m leading the singing on my guitar, at the campfire, that’s different. Singing with a group is not like singing a solo.IMG_8789

I even have a pattern of the types of songs I sing, when I’m alone, depending on the mood I’m in. If you’ve read my Australia posts, you know I sang slower, more lullaby-style songs to get the baby to sleep. While in Pennsylvania, if I was cleaning the camp cabins, and was particularly frustrated about anything, I would pick the loudest, most strident songs I could come up with. Something that you have to bellow, if you can.

Anyway… when you’re singing in front of a group, and you’re flat out terrified, you have to get beyond the fear. And you can pretend that no one is there. You can remember that if no one was there, you wouldn’t be concerned so much about how you’ll sound or what they’ll think. Your worries can go by the wayside.

This idea crosses over into my writing. There’s a fear of putting something, a story, a song, onto paper. You’ll start and you’ll fail, so why start? When I began this blog, it originally felt like writing in a vacuum, but I knew that eventually, people would drop by and read what I had to say. What would they think? What if they were upset by it? You can become so concerned with what others will think that you don’t write what YOU want to write anymore.IMG_8792

I’ve always wanted to write well, and to write primarily for myself, not being concerned about the opinions of others. It’s not easy to do. If I really wanted to get numbers on this site, I’d just post kitten pictures every day. That would bring up the numbers on my stats page. But I started this blog to tell my daily stories, whether here or in Australia. First and foremost, I want to write about what I like. And I have to like what I’ve written. There are days when I immediately hate what I’ve written. Sometimes, I have to read it over a few times before I like it, and sometimes I have to edit it completely. Like I’m doing right now.

My fears over both singing and writing can easily come to the forefront. And I have to remind myself that if I can’t stand what I’ve said, sung, or written, then why am I doing it? And fear of what others think can be dreadfully controlling. When I write, I remind myself that I’m writing this because I want to, and for no other reason. And if others like it, that’s great, too.

I’m not sure I’ve even explained this properly. But to me, to “sing like no one’s listening” is to put your heart out there, without being concerned about what others will think. If I’ve done that, then I will like what I’ve written and I will enjoy the process of writing… and you will probably like it, also. Because it’s the real me that you’re getting, not someone I’m pretending to be.

And it’s a reminder to always keep singing (and writing), even when I’m afraid to.

 

 

lullabies no more…

Is it the passing of an era? My Bubby can no longer be sung to sleep. Soothed and lulled into not talking, but never to sleep. She has reached the age where, if she’s tired, she lets you know, and promptly goes to sleep on your shoulder. If she is NOT tired, she lets you know by refusing to go to sleep. Ok, she’ll often cuddle and rest her head on your shoulder for hours (well, it seems like it), but once you put her in the crib, she either wants out, or enjoys some play time… until she still wants out. (For the record, I actually DO know what ‘era’ means.)

So, though I still sing to her, it’s not nearly as much, and I tend to fall back on the same handful, including “Will I Ever Tell You?” (The Music Man), “On the Front Porch With You” (Summer Magic), “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful” (Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella), “Something Wonderful” (The King and I), “Edelweiss” (The Sound of Music), and “Out of My Dreams” (Oklahoma!).

Speaking of music, I tried to dig out my Christmas music, but ran into some problems. My mp3 player has some issues with Frank Sinatra. Don’t know what, but maybe they had issues in a past life. I also didn’t have all of my Christmas music on the mp3 player, but I couldn’t bring my laptop downstairs to play through the stereo. Why? Well, Mrs. B was cleaning tons of kitty poo from behind the TV and stereo, so that area was unavailable. But some of the wires were so coated with dried cat poo that it couldn’t all be gotten off (It was a ginormous amount, I assure you). So, she pitched those wires into the garbage, and they were the ones that connected the stereo to the speakers. We’re now waiting for Mr. B to get back, so he can buy new ones.

Anyway, no playing the laptop through the speakers for another day or two. But while trying to transfer some more Christmas music onto my mp3 player, I found that when I left the U.S., I didn’t put all the Christmas music from my desktop onto my laptop. Ok, so back in March, I didn’t see any reason why I needed to transfer Christmas music by Michael Crawford, Billy Gilman, Linda Eder, etc… onto the laptop. Or I just plain forgot. Now I wish I’d done it. Also, the Christmas Classic mixes, but those might not have actually made it onto the desktop, either, because I liked listening to the actual CDs.

Now, I still enjoy my Christmas selection, but I was a little worried, now and then, about what the family thought of either Celine Dion’s Christmas disc or Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Oh, so then I remembered to play some Dean Martin, as the Frank Sinatra stuff still wasn’t cooperating. Oh, and I also had the holiday CDs by Enya and Burl Ives. Go together well, don’t they?

Having finished my cup of coffee and enjoyed a little quiet time, I’m off to flip the laundry loads and then get to folding. There’s work to be done!

oh yes, it takes a woman…

I borrowed two movies from the library, but since I wasn’t in the mood for Pride & Prejudice, I popped Hello, Dolly! into the DVD player. Not that P&P doesn’t have its funny parts, but I was looking for something jolly, not very long, and best of all, something I hadn’t seen in a while. That definitely qualifies, because I’ve been listening to the soundtrack for years, but haven’t seen the movie in… oh, 10 years? I forget.

You really can’t go wrong with a musical that was directed by Gene Kelly, you know. Some of the dialogue is absolutely hilarious, though some of it is incredibly sappy. But you’ve gotta love a musical that makes you laugh out loud. And Barnaby only has to open his mouth to make me burst out laughing.

Vandergelder: “I am bringing home a mistress.”

Barnaby: “But sir, I’m too young!”

But then, Barnaby Tucker has always reminded me of Barney Rubble, from The Flintstones, so I think you expect these kinds of things from him and his counterpart, Minnie Fay. And speaking of ridiculousness, you can’t get away from it when the young Michael Crawford (who plays Cornelius) is involved.

Yes, this is the man that grew up to play the original Phantom on Broadway. I even remember a rumor I heard about 15 years ago, that Crawford’s voice had been accidentally altered by some routine surgery he had. Yes, it’s only a rumor, but just think, it shows what a HUGE difference in his voice, over the years! Because if you’ve watched this movie, or seen Condorman, you’d never believe him capable of singing as the Phantom. And in this movie, he was cast by Gene Kelly, because he wanted a “handsome idiot” for the part. Kelly’s wife thought Crawford was handsome, and Kelly thought he was an idiot.

For the younger set, if you’ve seen Wall-E, then you’ve seen or heard bits of Hello, Dolly!. The song during the starting credits of Wall-E are from the song Put On Your Sunday Clothes, which is a favorite song of mine. I have to admit to singing along, the first time I ever saw Wall-E. Of course, they probably didn’t have room or couldn’t get approval from Barbra Streisand, so the only parts of the song you will hear has Michael Crawford singing solo.

Later on, when you watch Wall-E watch a video, longingly, and hoping to be able to hold EVE’s hand, that’s a clip from It Only Takes a Moment, from later in Hello, Dolly!. Quite frankly, I regularly skip that song, because I think it’s sappy and stupid. “It only takes a moment to love a whole life through.” What a load of crock! However, if Crawford ever sings it in his Phantom voice, I’ll give it another try.

I love the introduction to Vandergelder, bellowing at his niece’s would-be fiancé, and you wonder if he (the would-be fiancé) is really supposed to be that tall. When Walter Matthau’s character proceeds to call the guy a “seven foot nincompoop”, you realize he probably is pretty tall. According to IMDb, he’s 6ft 6.5in. And I’m pretty sure the girl cast as Ermengarde was 5ft tall… or less, to create an interesting contrast. I read that Tommy Tune (who plays the tall Ambrose) is the tallest dancer on Broadway, and they played that to their advantage. Watching him dance with a girl that barely reaches his waist. Oh, it’s funny.

She didn't wear this in the movie, I'm positive.

Now, I’ve never seen a performance with Carol Channing as Dolly, but I’m glad they cast Streisand in this role. I’m sorry, I’ve never been a fan of Channing, and I don’t like her singing voice. Oh, yes, I’ve heard it, and I’ve seen her in Thoroughly Modern Millie, too. I think they’re call to cast Streisand was a good one, even if she and Matthau fought like cats and dogs. He could not STAND her, even to the point of faking the kiss, at the end of the movie, rather than having to touch his lips to hers.

You can’t watch the beginning of the movie without watching that horror to feminists’ hearts (that must be why I enjoy it so much), the number It Takes a Woman. Oh, you can’t beat those lyrics.

“It takes a woman all powdered and pink to joyously clean out the drain in the sink…”

“The frail young maiden who’s constantly there for washing and blueing and shoeing the mare…”

And last, but not least…

“So she’ll work until infinity. Three cheers for femininity!”

This was the last movie that Louis Armstrong acted in (he died two years later), though his music has obviously been in hundreds of other movies since then. I love to listen to it, but it’s even greater to watch him interact with Barbra Streisand. Such a huge smile, such joy in his singing and what he’s doing. You can’t not smile, when you’re watching. If you watch nothing else from this movie, you should watch this scene.

I haven’t covered some of the other great songs and dance numbers, but who needs to. The master himself, Gene Kelly, was at the helm of this movie. No, it isn’t perfect, but the choreography was worthy of the best that Kelly could give. But someday, maybe in heaven, I’m going to give a piece of my mind to the person who designed Irene Malloy’s costumes. I cringed every time she changed clothes, with the exception of the Ribbons Down My Back hat.

I’ve rambled enough. I had a lovely evening, so now I need to go have a snack and take some more antibiotics.

lullaby the baby… a reprise…

My baby is growing up! She’s walking now, and talking wordlessly, in such conversational tones, that I’m sure SHE thinks she’s saying something. It’s just us crazy big people that don’t understand. But big as she’s getting, she still needs a nap, even they aren’t as long as they used to be. And so, unless she’s wiped out with tiredness, and falls right to sleep (this occurs rarely), she still goes to sleep more quickly if I sing her a few lullabies.

My lullaby fallbacks are splendid (see original post), but I have to keep some variety going, so I don’t grow tired of any  of my songs. Fortunately, I know such a wide variety that this should never occur. Where to start?

As I’ve said before, I don’t always stick with Broadway musicals. Among many other music artists, I grew up listening to James Galway, the famous Irish flute player. We had a cassette tape of his, where he played everything from Henry Mancini numbers (The Pink Panther, Baby Elephant Walk, Love Theme from The Thornbirds), to The Flight of the Bumblebee. And, of course, Annie’s Song. I was well into my twenties before I even realized that Annie’s Song had words to it. Or that Mancini hadn’t written it. Not sure how that happened, considering my cousins had known all the words since they were kids. I learned all the words, shortly before my cousin walked down to the aisle to them (“Come let me love you, let me give my life to you… let me drown in your laughter, let me die in your arms. Let me lay down beside you, let me always be with you…”).

And while we’re on folk music (John Denver, remember?), a couple of my other non-musical lullabies come from Peter, Paul, and Mary. Ok, I know that John Denver actually wrote “Leaving on a Jet Plane”, but it’s Peter, Paul, and Mary’s version that I grew up on. I don’t sing this one to the baby quite as often as the others… I tend to sing her “Five Hundred Miles”, more often. Well, it depends on the day. But I should give an honorable mention to both “Stewball” and “Puff the Magic Dragon”, which I do NOT sing as lullabies. But they’re my go-to songs for playing for the kids on my mp3 player, singing to the baby while we dance, or distracting her when I’m changing her diaper. No joke. I’m pretty sure she’ll be able to sing “Stewball” all by herself, shortly after she begins to talk.

Musicals… have you been wondering when I’d get back to them? You shouldn’t have worried. These songs are very close to my heart, so they’re never far away from either being sung or being talked about. You see, my grandpa loved to sing, and he had a beautiful voice. I think his voice was something like Gordon MacRae’s, but maybe I’m just prejudiced. Nevertheless, we do know that he starred in a local production of The Student Prince, possibly even before he was married. I’m not sure. But you’ve gotta have a VOICE to handle The Student Prince. No regular Joe Schmoe could sing “Serenade (Overhead the Moon is Beaming)”, without getting booed off the stage.

Anyway, Grandpa loved to sing, and he loved good music. So, he raised his children to love to sing, and also to appreciate good music. I’ll admit, not all of the grandkids took to musicals and the occasional opera , but most of us like a goodly few of them. Actually, I like very few entire operas, but I love La Bohème, and listen to many individual opera stars… Three Tenors, anyone? Andrea Bocelli? But I can never diss operas, completely, because I like so many songs from each of them. And if you’re part of our family, you can’t ignore what James Funk loved.

In my case, that means reminding myself that he loved the song “Danny Boy”. For years, I’d hated that song (fully knowing he named one of my uncles Daniel, because of it), but I finally discovered that I like it when a guy sings it. I must’ve heard Grandpa sing it, when I was little. But whenever a girl sings it, you might as well go scratch a chalkboard, that’s what it sounds like to me.

And as for musicals, some of us cousins listen to them all the time, and even the ones that don’t, they can probably sing all the lyrics to a few, at the drop of a hat. A few of us are still joking about recording a Funk & Dinger version of Oklahoma!. We could, you know. We’ve got some good singers, and several of us know ALL the words.

Anyone for “Something Wonderful”, from The King and I? This is probably my favorite song from this musical, though I do love me some “Hello, Young Lovers”. Oh, and “Getting to Know You” is good for the purpose, as well. They don’t really sound like lullaby material, do they? But they are, oh, they are. And if you’ve never seen The King and I movie, starring Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner, then you need to. I don’t care if you’re pro or anti-musical… you need to see it.

Not only was this Yul Brynner’s greatest act (he won an Oscar for his performance in the movie, and a Tony for his Broadway performance), but you can’t NOT enjoy watching his interactions with Deborah Kerr as Anna. They get into some rip-roaring fights, and the King has some of the most marvelous quotes, as well (“I think your Moses, he shall have been a fool.”). No, this musical is not just about singing, even though Rodgers & Hammerstein were at the top of their game (“He will not always say what you would have him say… and then, all at once he’ll say something wonderful…”).

In my previous post, I mentioned “Out of My Dreams”, from Oklahoma!, but I find that another great R&H (that stands for Rodgers & Hammerstein, not Rhythm & Hip-hop) number that has the same feel to it is “Edelweiss”, which, of course, is from The Sound of Music. Now, I love The Sound of Music, but I am not a rabid fan, like some I know. I’ve never gone to hear the Von Trapps (great-grandchildren of the real-life Captain and Maria Von Trapp) sing, I don’t attend regular sing-alongs, and I don’t sing these songs proportionately more than any other musical. Strangely enough, I know people that are like the above description, and I know some people who REFUSE to ever see this musical, because they’ve heard the music too much from those that love it. It’s a funny world, don’t you think?

“Edelweiss” is so simple, and so beautiful. No wonder that most of us think it really is an actual Austrian folk song, or that it should be. Just a little thing, a flower, but it evokes so much to those that love their homeland. It symbolizes all that they love about their land, all that they’ve lost, and all that they hope to regain, eventually. And it’s home. How many of us look at a flower or a flag, and are immediately transported to home and our happiest memories?

Believe it or not, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” can be sung quietly to a sleepy baby. I know, we tend to think of it as a powerful song (and it is) that needs to be sung at the top of your lungs. And it can be, but never forget that a little volume reduction makes it suitable for toddlers and infants, as well.   : )

Carousel. Memories of my grandfather begin to surface. Can I ever watch that movie without thinking of him? So many people have never even heard of it. If that’s so, then you need to go see it, at once. How many times have I heard my grandpa singing “If I loved you, time and again, I would try to say all I want you to know. If I loved you, words wouldn’t come in an easy way…. round in circles, I’d go…”. Times innumerable, I’m sure. Carousel was my grandpa’s favorite musical, bar none. Starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones (yes, just like in Oklahoma!), it follows the love story of Julie Jordan and Billy Bigelow. I don’t think I can explain it to you. Too many memories tied up in it, and I can’t do it justice. But if you’ve ever heard the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, then it’s also from this musical. There’s also a small part with Jacques D’Amboise (famous ballet dancer, also stars in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) dancing in the circus ballet, later in the movie. If I remember correctly, he’s even younger in Carousel than he is in Seven Brides.

Oh, and before I forget, I love the movie version of Carousel, but there’s also a studio recording of it from back in 1987. It’s advertised as starring Sarah Brightman (no, that’s no why I’m telling you about it) and Samuel Ramey. Ramey is an opera star, as far as I know, and probably has too deep a voice for Billy, technically, but I still think he does a beautiful job. It’s a fabulous production, with a few songs that aren’t included in the movie. But my favorite part is at the end, when the graduating class sings “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, and Billy approaches Julie. She can’t see him, of course (he’s dead), but somehow, she hears him, when he says “I loved you, Julie. Know that I loved you”. He never said it to her, in life. And finally, she knows… and she smiles, and joins in the song.

I love Annie Get Your Gun. I dare anyone to sing “You Can’t Get a Man With a Gun”, and do it without smiling once. You can’t. Kind of like trying to sing “Me” from the Beauty & the Beast musical without a big grin on your face. I can’t do it. But how many times do we girls wish we COULD get a man with a gun?  : )   Ok, I don’t sing that one to the baby, really. It isn’t conducive to the lullaby format. But “The Girl That I Marry” is just perfect to soothe a sleepy baby into dreamland. Yes, this song makes me smile, too, but for a different reason than the previous song. It’s all about Frank Butler’s pipe dream of a girl to love, who’s all pink and white and absolutely perfect (“The girl that I marry will have to be as soft and as pink as a nursery…”). He finishes the description by suggesting that his girl will be a “doll I can carry”. Which is quite accurate, I think the closest he could possibly get to this is to actually buy himself a doll… one of the ones that opens and closes her eyes.

When I finally saw the movie, starring Betty Hutton and Frank Butler, my take on this song completely changed. Yes, it’s amusing, whenever she sees him and obviously drops her jaw over the sight of him, and for love of him. And it’s really cute when she informs him that “I’m a girl”. But then he begins to sing this song, and her expression changes to loss of hope and crushed dreams, wishing she could be the right girl for him. It’s all there, in her face, and of course, Frank doesn’t see it. He’s too full of himself. But how many of us girls have wished we could be that dream girl to a certain guy… and he never saw us, because maybe he’s looking for perfection?

Have you ever seen Rigoletto (starring Ivey Lloyd and Joseph Parr)? Put out by Feature Films for Families, it’s the best of any of the movies they ever produced. Straight to video movies for Christian families, some of their movies had some pretty awful acting and storylines… but hey, we kids weren’t critics. Usually. However, Rigoletto was the exception to the rule, and in addition to a sort of Beauty & the Beast storyline, it had some phenomenal singing. My favorite being “The Music Within”. Sung by Bonnie, at the singing competition, it’s one of those songs that knocks your socks off, at first hearing. “Every person you have known has a song all their own, once they open up, you’ll hear what’s there… There was a melody, locked deep inside of me, but now it’s free…”

So, I sing this one to the baby, as well as “The Curse” (sung by Joseph Parr, in the movie), which may sound odd, but when you slow it down a little bit, it’s perfect for the purpose (“There is no curse or evil spell that’s worse than one we give ourselves… there is no sorcerer as cruel as the proud, angry fool. And yet we cry, Life isn’t fair… beneath our cries, the truth is there…”). But I have to get into full Rigoletto singing mode for this one to occur to me.

How many reprises am I allowed? This one’s getting so long, I’ll have to do another. I’m afraid that the list of songs that I like to sing… well, it’s neverending. And as far as I can tell, the baby never gets tired of me singing them. Would you?

it’s friday!

No, don’t start singing that song at me. For some reason, I keep forgetting that it is actually Friday, because every few minutes, I look at the clock, thinking that I probably need to go to bed earlier tonight. And then it hits me… I don’t have to get up at 6:30am tomorrow! Yes! So, then I go back to my random occupations, as I crank up my YouTube music favorites. Sure, I could listen to my foobar music player (No, that’s not a crazy American word, it’s actually the name of a media player program that you can download. My player of choice, as I hate iTunes.), but I don’t have the newest songs from Glee on there, so it has to be YouTube. Especially since I can’t download music from Amazon.com, while here in Australia. Sigh. There is actually a downside to being overseas, you know.  : )

With the weekend beginning, I try and figure out what I need to remember to do, both important items and not-so-important. And they all jumble up in my head. I need to burn some more CDs with my pictures, in case something goes wrong with my computer. I need to finish my 1-inch pile of postcards, and mail them. I need to read Dad and Dave, by Steele Rudd (recommended by an Aussie friend), which is a book of classic Australian pioneer stories. I want to finish rereading my Politically Incorrect Guide to American History on my Kindle, but that can wait, technically. Man, I love my P.I.G. guides. So, I have to remember that there are more important things to read. Supposedly.

If I find the time, I need to watch the first half of The Fellowship of the Ring with the girls, again, or get around to deciding what parts of the second half they’re allowed to watch. I keep reminding myself to check online, to see what movies are playing at the Emerald Cinema. I keep hoping that Captain America will be there this weekend, but there are no guarantees of that. I now want to introduce some friends of mine to North & South (starring Richard Armitage & Daniela Denby-Ashe, based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s book) and Lost in Austen, but just realized that I forgot to bring Lost in Austen with me, and I don’t own N&S. Sigh. Now, I either need to find someone here in town who has it, figure out if the library carries it, or order them from somewhere.

If you’ve never read or watched N&S, then you need to do BOTH. Or if you’re looking for the first BBC mini-series to one-up 1995’s Pride & Prejudice, then here you go. I love P&P, don’t forget, but Armitage and this movie can take Colin Firth, any day. Oh, and if you didn’t know it already, Elizabeth Gaskell was a contemporary of Charlotte Bronte, and some of Gaskell’s other books (Wives & Daughters, Cranford) have also been made into fantastic BBC movies. Look them all up! And the books!

Speaking of books, I’m supposed to be reading the latest one that my dad is working on, and have gotten sidetracked. I read, edit and/or make unhelpful comments on it. Really, I mostly read, check for spelling mistakes, and question whether there should be more commas included. I told you my reading habits are off-track! Sorry, Dad.   : )

Also, I’ve given up on reading the latest two books by Kate Morton, as I’m on a non-fiction binge, right now. So, hopefully, I’ll be able to start Walt Disney: The Biography, by Neal Gabler. I’d really like to learn a little more about Disney, the man, rather than the amusement park. And I love Walt Disney World, don’t get me wrong! I want to know more about the man who created it, as well as masterminded the original Disney classic movies.

And while I’m trying to figure out which of these I have time for, and what order to do them in, the circus is in town. When was the last time I was at the circus? Have I ever even been to a circus? I have no recollection of it, believe it or not. Maybe I should talk someone into going with me. Takers?

Chances are… I don’t know what I’ll end up doing, actually. Last weekend, I pretty much vegged out and read Ann Coulter’s newest book (which is awesome, by the way). So, I think doing nothing but read… that’s not an official option, this weekend. Le sigh. Postcards? CDs? Circus? I hope I can manage all of these.

Oh, I almost forgot… my Aussie family mentioned that Mary Poppins: The Musical is coming to Brisbane, so they’re considering going. That would be so sweet! I know all the music, but I’ve never seen it. Oh, I hope we can do that! I’ll also have to let the girls listen to the music (yes, there are more songs than are in the movie), so they’ll be familiar with it.   : )

lullaby the baby to old broadway…

There’s nothing like having a baby snuggling into your shoulder, dropping off to sleep, as you sing to her. She likes to sing, too, but wordlessly. So, I give her words to go to sleep by. I don’t know any traditional lullabies, unless “Baby Mine”, from Dumbo, counts, but I’m never able to remember all the words to the song. It has that nice, slow rhythm, but so do many other songs that never qualify as sing-me-to-sleep songs.

The singing almost always starts with “Will I Ever Tell You?”, from The Music Man, though I occasionally start it off with “Lida Rose”, which always comes first in the musical. But something about the key and rhythm to the lyrics “Dream of now, dream of then, dream of a love song that might have been…” are perfect for lullabying a baby, even if she doesn’t appreciate the romance of the song. From there, I usually progress either to “‘Til There Was You” (“There were bells on the hills, but I never heard them ringing, no I never heard them at all, ’til there was you…”), also from The Music Man, or “Maybe”, from Annie.

When people think of Annie, they always think of the song “Tomorrow”, but my favorite has always been “Maybe”. The girl who played Annie in the original movie, Aileen Quinn, apparently preferred it, as well. I never have been able to understand all the hoopla about “Tomorrow”. I was raised on the 1982 movie of Annie, so if you’re wishy-washing over whether to see that one or the newer one, always err on the side of the older one. I was tortured through the newer version (starring Victor Garber as Daddy Warbucks) once, and don’t think I could ever survive it again. Speaking of torture, my family once gathered around the tv to see what the newer version of The Music Man would be like, though we were fully expecting it to be horrid. We were right. What can you expect when the original version stars the incomparable Robert Preston as the ONLY worthwhile Music Man, ever? The newer one starred Matthew Broderick (who can’t sing, has no rhythm, and no charm or charisma), and Kristin Chenoweth (who can sing, but just isn’t right for the classy Marian). Avoid at all costs.

On the lullaby round, the next song is often “On the Front Porch With You”, which is sung by Burl Ives in the movie Summer Magic. It took me years (literally) to figure out what that song was from, because in the days before the Internet and before CDs and mp3s, we listened to it on an audio tape, along with a bunch of other Disney songs. At that age (teens or younger), I had no idea that Hayley Mills starred in anything besides Pollyanna, but she was the star of Summer Magic. And no, I still don’t now what it’s about, nor have I ever seen the movie. I just know that if Burl Ives sings it, it will probably be awesome. Most people will have heard his performance of the Christmas song “Silver Bells”, in the classic stop motion animation TV classic (he’s the snowman, of course).

I rotate in “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever”, which I originally heard on Ultimate Broadway, a Best-of collection of musicals, or sometimes lean towards “Out of My Dreams”, from Oklahoma!. My grandpa loved musicals, so I was raised on anything Gordon MacRae, so Carousel and Oklahoma! were definitely on this list. No matter what some people say (Buddy, no hating), Oklahoma! is a fabulous show, and there are excellent points to both the original movie and the newer “stage” version that you can find on DVD, starring Hugh Jackman.  [Note to purists: Obviously, not every song mentioned is a “Broadway melody”

On the one hand, MacRae had one of the most glorious voices that has ever existed, and he was well-matched by Shirley Jones (who was also Marian the librarian in the movie version of The Music Man). Being filmed back in the old days, some of the risque elements were edited from the movie, so there are one or two songs missing… which I don’t miss in the slightest, never having learned to love them. On the other hand, MacRae and Jones weren’t dancers, so the dream sequence trades them for two other people… where the girl DOES look like Jones, but the guy dance does NOT look like MacRae. I’ve always thought his dance double looked more like a slimmer Arnold Schwarzenegger… so it takes you right out of THAT dream.

In the newer version, Hugh Jackman (yes, if you didn’t know it already, Jackman is a musical star, as well as an action star) and all the lead cast can sing AND dance, so every girl watching will swoon when Curly appears during the dream sequence. But with the two extra songs back, and some of the original crudities back, it’s slightly darker in spots. Jud comes across as extremely creepy, both because of the actor (who does a great job, by the way) and because of that extra song. I usually skip it, because listening to him sing obsessively about his love for Laurie is just… terrifying. But some of the group dance numbers are absolutely fantastic, so I tend to recommend both the old and the new, in this case.

When the baby really isn’t going to sleep for me, I have to branch out into some other songs, trying to remember (yes, the song “Try to Remember, as sung by Jerry Orbach, works for this, too) others that have the same slower tempo. Qualifiers for that description include songs from Kismet, The Desert Song, Cinderella (the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical), West Side Story, and several others.

“And This is My Beloved” and “Stranger in Paradise”, from Kismet, are family favorites. I’ve never actually seen the movie (starring Howard Keel) or seen a stage production, but I’ve heard the soundtracks from both movie and original musical. I have a suspicion that my grandpa sang these songs a lot, when I was younger, so I don’t recall hearing them as much as others, but they sounded so very familiar, when I ran across them in later years. And, of course, I have some Gordon MacRae collections, where he sings both of them, and I listen to those a lot.

“The Desert Song” and “One Alone” are from an operetta, technically, but it was made into a movie musical, starring Gordon MacRae and Kathryn Grayson. An older film, the acting isn’t always great, but the music can’t be ruined. And the American reporter is a comedic role that everyone should see. He always makes me laugh. And watching Grayson as a flirt was pretty interesting, as I’m used to seeing her as the shy but blossoming daughter Magnolia in Show Boat, and starring opposite Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly in Anchors Aweigh. That girl could hit some NOTES.

I love to sing “Somewhere”, from West Side Story, as well as “Tonight”, but I regularly forget the lyrics, and always mean to go look them up again. So, I’ll skip off into a rendition of “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful” or “Ten Minutes Ago”, which are the best of the musical version of Cinderella. I still remember the first time I ever saw this movie, starring Lesley Ann Warren, in a made-for-TV musical, but it was still Rodgers & Hammerstein, which means it can’t be all that bad. We were in Michigan, visiting my cousins, and even if the sets in the movie were more like those of a play on the stage, I was mesmerized by the fun of some songs, and the beauty of the others. And since I loved watching Warren in The Happiest Millionaire, I had no trouble loving to watch her in another musical.

“I’ll Never Say No”, from The Unsinkable Molly Brown is a great song for sleepy purposes, but don’t ever sing it to someone who might hold you to the words of the song. Telling someone you’ll never say no to them, no matter what they say or do… they might just take advantage of that.   : )   Debbie Reynolds almost won an Oscar for her role in this movie musical, but I think she lost to Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins. This was also at the time when Harve Presnell, who played Johnny Brown, could’ve become a big box office star, but things fell through for him. Instead, people that love the TV show The Pretender will have seen him as Mr. Parker, the old great mustached gentleman, father to Ms. Parker. Some of the extras on the DVDs have the actors saying that Presnell was always entertaining people off set with his singing. How awesome would that be?

There are so many others, and plenty of newer musicals to make use of. I really need to run through my collection, so I don’t miss out on singing any of them to the baby. Maybe when she’s older, she’ll hear one, and have a vague recollection that she’s heard it somewhere, too. And maybe she’ll fall in love with songs and musicals, someday, too. One can only hope.

~

[see Lullaby the Baby… a Reprise]