This one’s a little embarrassing. But if you’ve walked through hospital corridors wearing a gown that doesn’t close in the back, and had strangers shave you in unusual places, “embarrassing” loses a lot of its meaning.
I was reminded of this when I was writing about watching the opening of a touring company’s production of Carnival when I was a teenager, and going all “aglow.” My mother originally turned me on to musicals. And I was grateful. The good ones seemed to have magic in them.
I was in need of magical assistance at that time. You may have noticed my posts are conspicuously light on The Teenage Years. I think I missed them. It’s like I fell asleep when I was twelve and woke up when I graduated from college.
My pre-teen buddies, bopping hormonally through their maturity agenda, had casually left me behind. I felt abandoned, confused and painfully unclear about my future. I was pretty much in a fog. That’s why I don’t write about those times. No standout memories. Except that the Leafs won the Stanley Cup four times. (And not once since.)
I was aware of my aptitude for comedy. (I said things and people laughed.) So I knew I had something. But from a career standpoint, I had no idea how to get from “here” to “there”, “there” being somewhere where “funny” was viewed as a well-paying medium for personal advancement.
I had no connections. I had no “game plan.” My gifts for self-promotion were (and remain today) woefully inadequate. I saw myself wanting to be something my talents clearly suited me for, but for the lack of other attributes, settling for something else. Something considerably less satisfying.
No confidence. No clarity of purpose. No – in the sense of Someone lovingly guiding me towards my destiny – faith.
What did I have?
I had songs.
I called them my “Brave Songs.” Energizing anthems, gathered from musicals, which, when I played them on records, or sang them at the top of my lungs, filled my limping spirits with much-needed infusions of hope. It’s all corny goo. I know it. If you hate corny goo – like on Space Mountain – there’s the “Escape Door.” You can cut out now, and not get any of it on you.
All I can say is these songs got to me when nothing else could. And for that, I’m eternally grateful. The following is a representative sampling. Some lyrics elude my memory. I haven’t thought of these songs in quite some time.
Inspiring songs from musicals. They may be corny. But they got me to my twenties.
FROM HALLELUJAH, BABY!
I’M BUSTIN’ OUT!
I GOTTA SHOUT
I JUST FOUND OUT
WHAT LIFE’S A-BOU-OU-OU-OU-OU-OUT…
(SINGING, SINGING, SINGING. THEN)
TO REACH THE GOAL I’VE GOT MY EYE ON
NEED NOBODY TO RELY ON
I BELIEVE IN ME-EE!!!…
FROM THE ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT – THE SMELL OF THE CROWD
STAND WELL BACK I’M COMIN' THROUGH
NOTHING CAN STOP ME NOW…
WATCH OUT WORLD I’M WARNIN' YOU
NOTHING CAN STOP ME NOW…
FROM FUNNY GIRL
I’M THE GREATEST STAR
I AM BY FAR
BUT NO ONE KNOWS IT
THAT’S WHY I WAS BORN
I’LL BLOW MY HORN
TILL SOMEONE BLOWS IT…
FROM WEST SIDE STORY
I DON’T KNOW
WHAT IT IS
BUT IT IS
GONNA BE GREAT…
I’VE GOT TO FIND A REASON
FOR LIVING ON THIS EARTH
SOMETHING TO WANT
SOMETHING TO BE
SO I CAN SAY
I AM ME.
FROM MAN OF LA MANCHA
AND THE WORLD WILL BE BETTER FOR THIS
THAT ONE MAN, SCORNED AND COVERED WITH SCARS,
STILL STROVE, WITH HIS LAST OUNCE OF COURAGE,
THE UN-REACH-A-BLE STAR.
WHEN YOU WALK THROUGH A STORM
HOLD YOUR HEAD UP HIGH
AND DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK
AT THE END OF THE STORM IS A GOLDEN SKY
AND THE SWEET SILVER SONG OF THE LARK
WALK ON THROUGH THE WIND
WALK ON THROUGH THE RAIN
THOUGH YOUR DREAMS BE TOSSED AND BLOWN
WALK ON, WALK ON, WITH HOPE IN YOUR HEART
AND YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE
YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE.
Thank you “Brave Songs.” You were always there when I needed you.
And I may just need you again.