; Tangled Up In Blue: Popular Music's Bastard Child

Monday, September 12, 2005

Popular Music's Bastard Child

I wasn't allowed to listen to Rock & Roll until I was ten. Something about pot or Satan, I think. I loved music, and spent hours by myself dancing around the living room, daydreaming and becoming someone other than a little girl in Indiana. Since R&R was out, I was left to scrounge what was left from my parents' record collection. Unlike Cool Kids (TM, all rights reserved) everywhere, I have no tales about growing up with John Lennon and Mick Jagger--my John and Mick are Richard and Oscar and Meredith and Stephen.

Showtunes. Musical Theatre. Where the corn is as high as an elephant's eye and you walk through a storm with your head held high. Where learn that problems have the same name as the wind, pronounced slightly differently. Where hookers and nuns sing and dance about love, and Lola gets what she wants. I knew every song from just about every show staged between 1930 and 1970. I can't sing worth a damn, but I could screech and warble my way though anything.

When I was 10 I abandoned the Fogey Showgies for Blondie and Billy Joel and the rest, but then one night in 1982 I was sneaking late night television and they had an ad with the most beautiful music I'd ever heard. Ever. I stayed up late every night for 3 weeks trying to see that local television ad for the road company tour ["Coming To The Scottish Rite Auditorium"] of Evita. The snippet of 'Don't Cry For Me Argentina' was like crank. I couldn't get enough and it kept me up nights.

That's how I lost my heart to Andrew Lloyd Weber. In the musical theatre lovers' world, that's the equivalent of admitting that you lost your virginity to the callow quarterback who was just using you, but I don't care. I also realize that while I was sleeping with Andrew I was really falling in love with Tim (Rice), but it was a beautiful menage a trois. I remained so devoted to those men that I spent many months of allowances, babysitting money and birthday presents on tickets to Cats, Evita and the inevitable trip to Mecca...London's West End Theatre District. I went there for school but starved to see every musical possible, with a couple of plays thrown in. My breakfasts came with the lodgings, but dinner and supper money went more often than not to the the Leicester Square Half Off Ticket booth.

Sorry. I'm rambling. Lost in reminiscence. Nothing strikes the cord in my soul like musicals. I understand that's not the kind of thing you talk about in public, but rest assured. If you see me with an iPod, it could be the Clash, it could be Zep, but it also just might be Side By Side By Sondheim.


Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

Pippin is one of my all time favorites.
I cut my teeth on Gilbert and Sullivan and the HMS Pinafore, but saw Fiddler On The Roof as a teen and West Side Story, and fell in love with musicals.
Actually, I think Pippin is my favorite musical.

9:24 PM  
Anonymous Sarcastro said...

"..admitting that you lost your virginity to the callow quarterback who was just using you..."

If by quarterback you mean Quasimodo's quasi-talented brother...

10:09 AM  
Blogger dolphin said...

I prefer Sondhiem to Weber any day of the week. I'm probably the only one in the entire world, but I think most of Cats is a waste of stage space.

It's kinda funny that rock and roll was prohibited but musicals were ok. There is no shortage of what would probably be considered naughty content in many stage musicals (A Chorus Line is in particularly on my mind here but there are PLENTY of others).

Have you heard of Stephan Scwartz's "Wicked?" It's just hitting the road, but I've heard some of the music and it sounds like it will be great.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Luna said...

Great post.

3:57 PM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

Thanks, Luna.

Dolphin, the older I get the more I prefer Sondheim. His stuff is definitely better. The best parts of ALW are the orchestrations and the lyrics-->neither of which he does himself. I dropped him after "Aspects Of Love" which I thought was a crap show.

I also came down firmly on the side of Rice during their huge feud, and am a huge "Chess" junkie.

I read the book for Wicked a few years ago, and have friends in NYC who've seen it and loved it. For some reason, though, I've never actually heard any songs from it. I guess I'm more out of touch from modern B'Way than I realized. Seussical about did me in.

12:01 AM  

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