Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Best of All Possible Songs


"No.
We won't think noble because we're not noble.
We won't live in beautiful harmony because
there is no such thing in this world,
nor should there be.
We promise only to do our best,
and live out our lives.
Dear God, that's all we can promise in truth."
Lillian Hellman

DAY 109:  There are very few things that move me more than powerful song lyrics, particularly in the context of a musical when the song tells you something profound about the character or something startlingly enlightening about the human condition.  And it is often done with the most SIMPLE of lyrics.  Although my favorite Broadway lyricist, Stephen Sondheim, is a master of wordplay and rhyme, his simplest songs, such as "Little Lamb" from Gypsy and the title song from Anyone Can Whistle, are great examples of how saying very little can say so much.  Marry those lyrics with astonishing music and you've got a song that will stop me entranced in my tracks EVERY time I hear it. 

I was working this evening on blocking for my play while listening to a shuffle of my favorite songs when "Make Our Garden Grow" from Candide played - I stopped, listened, and was enthralled just as much now after many many years and many many listenings as I was when I first heard it.  There is no doubt in my mind that this song is THE greatest Broadway song ever written and I am grateful for the brilliant gift of music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics of Richard Wilbur EVERY time I hear it.

"You've been a fool and so have I,
But come and be my wife,
And let us try before we die
To make some sense of life.

We're neither pure nor wise nor good;
We'll do the best we know;
We'll build our house, and chop our wood,
And make our garden grow.

I thought the world was sugar-cake,
For so our master said;
But now I'll teach my hands to bake
Our loaf of daily bread.

We're neither pure nor wise nor good;
We'll do the best we know;
We'll build our house, and chop our wood,
And make our garden grow.

Let dreamers dream what worlds they please;
Those Edens can't be found.
The sweetest flowers, the fairest trees
Are grown in solid ground.

We're neither pure nor wise nor good;
We'll do the best we know;
We'll build our house, and chop our wood,
And make our garden grow ...

And make our garden grow."

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