Sunday, April 13, 2008

Music is dangerous

I love music, right? who doesn't? But its dangerous stuff!

People don't realize how dangerous music is. A little bit is fine, maybe some good tunes in the car, maybe; or attend a perfectly respectable concert with other people and enjoy the performers onstage. But I think the line is crossed sometimes. It's kind of like taking that first hit of weed, or that first sip of demon rum. You can be a respected member of society, but just slip on the headphones at the computer after dinner - the next thing you know you're drinking wine and singing along to ITunes at the top of your lungs.

There’s nothing like a 53 year old woman channeling her inner Patti Lupone, throwing her head back and singing full untrained voice, accompanied by a full repertoire of theatrical hand gestures, to demonstrate the insidious nature of this danger. The chardonnay helps overcome inhibitions about performing, but it does NOT help the voice, let me tell you.

"Being Alive", the well-known tune from Stephen Sondeim's 1970 musical "Company" is the perfect song for nostalgic, romantic, and wine-addled people to sing. It's perfect for belting, yet - except for the ending, which you can fake at a lower octave - it's pretty easy to sing. As long as you don't get too emotionallhy overwhelmed by the lyrics, which will bring back your memories of young-adult angst. If you lived in New York City at the time, it has even more punch in the tear-jerking department.

Youtube gives us the options of seeing at least three great professional performances of "Being Alive". There's my fave, which is the
Patti Lupone version
or you can check out
Bernadette Peters' version, or Raul Esparza's Tony Show performance.

I just love Lupone's '80's hair and the blue backlighting in that video. And her twisted mouth and the slightly crosseyed thing she does with "alone is alone." But - DAMN! the woman can sing! I also like Raul's kind of angry head-shake at "mock me with praise." Peters i sgreat but not my favorite performance, but with a couple of glasses of wine I can imitate any of them!

On the Morning After such an indulgence in this illicit Music stuff, you go into work and conduct your daily business while this tune goes round in your head. It really colors your thoughts. And it's made me think seriously for once.

Although I'm the first person to indulge in my own damn self, and associate "Being Alive" with my past turbulent dating scene, where I longed for a fulfilling relationship, oddly, when I listen to a song about a person who regrets his own remoteness from other people, what I think about now is my own 80 year old mom. Her world is contracting, as she incrementally limits her activities, her movements, her communications with people.

The song's lyrics plea for:

"Someone you have to let in
Someone whose feelings you spare
Someone who, like it or not
Will want you to share a little, a lot of being alive
Make me alive, make me confused
Mock me with praise, let me be used
Vary my days, but alone is alone, not alive"

Vary my days. Wow. When I visited Mom recently, what struck me most intensely was how her days had become so uniform. Of course, we all end up following our daily routine - "digging our trenches" as a friend of mine put it. I certainly do. But I want to caution people from letting ourselves become set in stone. Can we remember to shake it up, do something different, follow a crazy impulse, take a chance? Will it help us continue to BE ALIVE?

I think I should put a sticky note on my work computer monitor that says in big letters "VARY YOUR DAYS!"

See how dangerous music can be?

1 comment:

JCK said...

Vary your days is a good one. Isn't it amazing how music can evoke so much!

Thanks for coming by my blog. As for my "Naughtiness" post, I was not talking about the cantina. I usually drink Jack & Coke and drank that the night of Bossy's visit at the cantina. We went to a 5 year old birthday party last evening and it was wonderful with amazing food and margaritas for the adults! The kids had their juice and cupcakes and we adults had our drinks! Fun for all!