Thursday, February 25, 2010

I think there's a reason they don't revive "Carousel"

My voice teacher and I occasionally get in interesting discussions because of the music.  We were doing "Can't Help Lovin' dat Man" from the musical Showboat.  The lyrics are along the lines of "Tell me he's lazy, tell me he's slow.  Tell me I'm crazy, maybe I know.  Can't help lovin' dat man of mine."  Great, right?  But he does actually love her and treat her well...until he leaves her, which is still better than some shows.

But that got us started talking about Carousel, and women who put up with abuse.  We've sung through all the songs I have from that in my anthology, including "What's the Use of Wond'rin'," a rather terrible song about how "Something made him the way he is, whether he's false or true, and something gave him the things that are his, one of those things is you."  The whole plot is really crappy, including plenty of domestic violence.

Or there's "As Long as He Needs Me" from Oliver!, wherein, "In spite of what you see, I'm sure that he needs me."  Not only is it a rather boring song musically, but there's nothing particularly lovely about a woman who sings how she's going to stick with him even though he beats her, because she's just sure he loves her, really.

There's a lot of these "stick with him no matter what" songs in old musicals.  It clashes with our modern sensibility, for sure, which tends toward the "cut bait at the slightest sign of a problem."  Obviously, that's no better.  People have problems, people work problems out.  We need some sort of mix of the two.  People shouldn't put up with abuse, of course, but maybe we shouldn't be so quick to give up in general, but especially in marriages.  I read this great article months ago in The Week magazine.  I find it interesting that it is now/still on their "most emailed" list.  I think a lot of people are having the same problems, the same thoughts on their mind.   To quote the article, "It's a story about hearing your husband say, 'I don't love you anymore' and deciding not to believe him." 

Anyway, moral of the story is old musicals are crazy. The "blow that felt like a kiss" really gets me, even just reading the synopsis.  You come back to rectify your wrongs so you can get into heaven, but instead you end up slapping your daughter?  That's classy.


  1. I feel sorry for characters - and people - like that because it's a lack of self confidence that puts them in a place they don't think they can get out of. You can't help them really, unless they want the help.


Be nice.