Monday, May 18, 2009

Music Monday/Lyric Lundi

When I went up to Connecticut to stay with my brother-in-law while he was recuperating from surgery (he's doing very well, the "perfect patient," as his doctor and doctor's assistant said. Thank you to those of you who have been asking), he told me that he had copies of his two favorite movies that he wanted to watch while I was there. I have to admit that my first thought was an extremely sexist one, something along the lines of, "Oh great. I'm gonna have to waste time sitting through Dirty Harry and Terminator or something." (O, ye of little faith), much to my surprise, when I said, "Oh?" (probably very unenthusiastically), he said, "Yeah, Dr. Zhivago and The Sound of Music." Well, twist my arm (and who ever knew my brother-in-law had this hidden romantic side?)...

I once had a roommate who dated this guy who was nice enough, but if allowed, he could sometimes take himself a bit too seriously and be somewhat of a pretentious prig. Needless to say, I'm not one who likes to spend time with pretentious prigs, so I didn't allow him to get away with it too often. He disparaged an ex-girlfriend of his, because her favorite movie was The Sound of Music, he, of course, being one of those people who "never watched a Hollywood blockbuster." He and I had a habit of joking with each other in a very cutting way, and I can remember saying to him, "The Sound of Music is one of my favorite movies, too. Good thing you're not dating me. Then you might have to admit you have atrocious taste in women." But, really, how can you seriously disparage someone of my generation for loving The Sound of Music? It's like disparaging someone for loving The Wizard of Oz. We all grew up with it. We all remember the first time we saw it. We all remember our teen years when we had to pretend we didn't like that "stupid movie," watching it only in order to "humor" our mothers who were all excited it was on and wanted us to watch it with them, because, you know, it just didn't compare to such great movies as Porkies and Friday the 13th.

I don't remember exactly how old I was (probably about eight or so), but I still vividly remember the first time I ever saw the movie. This was in the days before DVDs or VCRs or even HBO, also in the days before 500 movies were released every week. I'm assuming blockbusters in those days had second or third lives as they would come back to our theaters years after they'd been released, and we'd get to see them for the first time. I had no idea what this movie The Sound of Music was. I was a year old when it was first released. All I knew was that I was going to a movie, an extremely special treat, and my sister Lindsay, who was so much older and wiser (probably being ten-going-on-eleven to my eight-going-on-nine), and who had already seen it, would sit next to me and be my "guide."

Even at that age, my little heart beat romantically. There, larger than life, right in front of me was beautiful, beautiful Leisl (was any girl ever more beautiful?), dancing and singing and being kissed by Rolf, who was dancing and singing along with her (maybe that's where my love affair with dancing men began). Too bad he turned out to be so mean (how could he be so mean? Didn't you just want to kick him?). But at that moment, I didn't know he was going to be so mean. There he was, delivering telegrams and riding his bike, and wouldn't every girl want to be Leisl just then? They were just oh-so-sophisticated. That scene ended with Leisl's "Wheeeeeee!" and I can remember anxiously turning to Lindsay and asking, "It isn't almost over, is it?" You see, I was truly, madly, deeply in love with this movie, and I wanted to live happily ever after with it.

Now, if this song were to have been released two years ago, I would never claim it as one of my favorites. It's horribly sexist and so condescending, although I have to admit that Charmian Carr did an incredible job of playing that up in an ironic, somewhat sarcastic way. Anyway, it's a good thing it didn't come out two years ago. That means I can love it to my heart's content and remember a time when I sat in a cushioned seat, mesmerized enough to forget I had my favorite Milk Duds in my hand, and wishing a movie would never, never end.

Sixteen Going on Seventeen
by Rogers and Hammerstein

You wait little girl
On an empty stage
For fate to turn the light on

Your life little girl
is an empty page
that men will want to write on

To write on

You are 16 going on 17
Baby its time to think
Better beware
Be canny and careful
Baby you're on the brink

You are 16 going on 17
Fellows will fall in line
Eager young lads
And grueways and cads
Will offer you fruit and wine

Totally unprepared are you
To face a world of men
Timid and shy and scared are you
Of things beyond your ken

You need someone
Older and wiser
Telling you what to do
I am 17 going on 18
I'll take care of you

I am 16 going on 17
I know that I'm naive
Fellows I meet may tell me I'm sweet
And willingly I believe

I am 16 going on 17 innocent as a rose
Bachelor dandies
Drinkers of brandies
What do I know of those

Totally unprepared am I
To face a world of men
Timid and shy and scared am I
Of things beyond my ken

I need someone
Older and wiser
Telling me what to do
You are 17 going on 18
I'll depend on you


ZoesMom said...

I know you know that I too LOVE that movie. I think if I were recovering like your brother-in-law it would also be on my list of movies to watch. And it was so wonderful to share it with Zoe too. Are there really people out there who DON'T like it????

Emily Barton said...

ZM, well, you know, there may be some pretentious prigs out there who've never actually seen it...:-)! Anyway, we'll have to watch it with Zoe sometime.

Danny said...

Oh, Emily, if I didn't already think you ROCKED, this post would make me your biggest fan. When Leah was a baby, I sang "16 Going on 17" to her over and over and over again (all the while realizing what a ridiculously sexist song it was but loving it just the same). I take full responsibility for her current status as 14-year-old musical comedy star (28 musicals to date including "The Sound of Music"). Some of my happiest childhood memories involve "The Sound of Music." I only wish you could come to L.A. in late September to go with us (we never miss it) to the Sing-along Sound of Music at the Hollywood Bowl. 18,000 people (many in costume) singing along to the movie and the whole evening is hosted by none other than the still beautiful Charmian Carr (who never made another movie). Two years ago all seven of the actors who played the Von Trapp children were there along with the real Von Trapp great-grandchildren who have their own singing group (and who Leah and I got to meet). This morning, hours before reading this post, I was singing the entire score to my 1 lb. 10 oz. son Charlie in his incubator. It's never too soon!

Courtney said...

Oh, sigh. Just - sigh. I think I am putting this on when I get home tonight as background for my spring cleaning. And no - NO girl was ever more beautiful or more lucky than Leisl!

Emily Barton said...

Danny, what a lucky little girl Leah was to have that as one of her lullabies. And what a lucky little boy Charlie is. One of these years (when you're not busy caring for infants and yourself, I hope now, as well), Bob and I will HAVE to come out there for the sing-along. I'd love to do that.

Court, I can't think of anything better to help someone through the hideous task of spring cleaning.

Veil said...

There is no such word as "grueways". The lyric is "roues", with an accent aigu over the "e", because the word is French.

Emily Barton said...

Veil, just cut and pasted from online lyrics. I certainly wouldn't put it past Rogers and Hammerstein to have made up a word(especially if it could have been some sort of pun on something Austrian). However, in searching through other sites with lyrics, it seems you may be right. Another possibility seems to be "rogues." Oh well, I don't have the original sheet music, so I don't know.