Monday, November 06, 2006

Soundtrack, Part Three (of Four)

The first six songs in the soundtrack are
1. O Little Town of Bethlehem
2. The Ash Grove
3. David's OCD Song (discussion of 1-3 here)
4. Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound
5. Darlin' Be Home Soon
6. Since By Man Came Death (discussion of 4-6 here)

7. Sunrise, Sunset I needed something to commemorate my brief but formative theater years. My father was an excellent actor, my younger brothers both make their livings in the technical support of performance, one son is a filmmaker. Even the Romanians have gotten dragooned into performance since joining the family. Musicals probably aren’t the most representative genre of my theater work, but this is a soundtrack, after all. My tryout piece for all musicals was “Man of La Mancha,” and there were a dozen other shows I could have drawn from, but this piece has the added advantage of continuity.

When I did “Fiddler” in 1973 I was both annoyed with and attracted to this song. Because I was 20 at the time, it was all too reminiscent of the my-how-you’ve-grown phenomenon of adults, and I disliked enshrining that foolishness any further. I wryly recognized that I would likely feel differently in 20 years, however. It is an overly sentimental song, both lyrically and musically, and at least 6 other songs from the show are better. I changed my mind. I think “Sabbath Prayer” is a better choice.

I would make a great Tevye, by the way, except that my voice is wrecked.

8. Gaudete With the last song I moved partway into the area where the life that the soundtrack is about is no longer mine, but ours. A man is to be one flesh with his wife, and though we grasp that but dimly, it is evident in this list. This was the first Steeleye Span song that I heard, and I knew instantly that this band would be an obsession for me. It fit well with Tracy, and sums up nicely all the Society For Creative Anachronism, Brother Caedfel, Inklings, and D&D parts of our life together. Our children were brought up in this fevered atmosphere, making the “ours” portion even more plural.

It is the responsibility of parents to establish a family culture, a solid ground for the children to walk on, but we found over time that it is not unidirectional. Our sons have influenced in turn who we are, and the family culture is no longer imposed, but shared.

9. Create In Me A Clean Heart, O God. From the Red Hymnal, please, not the Green. Tracy and I still sing this simple but lovely piece of music from the Lutheran liturgy. In a real movie, the dramatic night that I walked miles and miles alone singing A Mighty Fortress (all verses, of course) would get this soundtrack slot, and you could even foreshadow that with me watching “Davey and Goliath” on TV in the 1960’s. But that one night would be it, rather disconnected from the rest of the story. The text is from Psalm 51, has a remarkably NT theology for an OT verse, and has encouraged me for years.

10. Pleasures of Obedience Blues. I needed at least one song I had written in the mix, because singer-songwriter was my primary self-definition for over a decade, and how I expected to make my mark in the world. I must have written hundreds – romantic, bawdy, country, poetic - a few were pretty good. When I became a Christian in October 1975 (though I now see that night as more of a Return than a Conversion), I almost immediately lost interest in playing guitar and singing. It seemed very much a part of ego, arrogance, and falsity for me. I wanted to drop the whole thing. But prayer meeting and Sunday School worship don’t ask much about something as self-centered as your spiritual condition; they just need someone to lead the songs. Get to work. Shut up and sing. That may be the better lesson, spiritually. I wrote a few more songs after 1975, usually something to order for a special occasion. I have no idea which song of mine I like best, but this one, based on the difficulties Noah faced, is the most fun.


Anonymous said...

Yes, David, you would make a great Tevye. I'd pay to see that, but we would need to get someone to sing. When I was in Fiddler (1973, also), I was Perchik and sang "Now I Have Everything", the only solo singing effort of my life. But, of course, that number wasn't even worthy of making it into the movie . . .

Ben Wyman said...

The real tragedy here is that you selected "Sabbath Prayer" rather than "Wonder of Wonders." Now there's a musical number for the ages.