246 FRIDAY 27 FEBRUARY 2015
(I’m a Dreamer) Aren’t We All – Johnny Gale & Little Isidore
Being a dreamer. When is a good time to wake up and deal with the real world?
I’m not entirely sure how this song ended up on the list. First time I heard it was a few months ago when I bought the “Boardwalk Empire” album. I’m pretty sure it was a younger part of me who felt attracted to this song.
I used to consider myself a dreamer, actually, I still have the occasional dream; I just don’t label myself as such anymore. To call oneself a “dreamer” seems like an excuse for our inability to face the real world or to justify our failures. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have dreams, they can be the starting point of something good. We just need to make sure they quickly become tangible goals we can pursue with a solid plan.
Song Title: (I’m a Dreamer) Aren’t We All – 1929 Genre: Musical Artist: Johnny Gale & Little Isidore Composer: Ray Henderson Lyricist: B.G. DeSylva & Lew Brown Album: Boardwalk Empire, Vol. 3: Music From the HBO Original Series
Favourite Lyrics: I’m a dreamer, aren’t we all / Just a dreamer, but aren’t we all / In my dreams each night, each night it seems / That my lover, my lover comes to call.
247 SATURDAY 28 FEBRUARY 2015
Almanaque – Soledad Bravo
Another Chico Buarque song featured via Soledad Bravo. As I suspect this is the last time both Buarque and Bravo will be featured on the list, I just want to tell you a little bit about them.
Chico Buarque is a Brazilian singer, songwriter, writer, poet and playwright. All of his work usually contains a form of social commentary. Soledad Bravo is a Spanish-born Venezuelan singer who is considered to have one of the most beautiful singing voices in Latin America. Although mostly know for her folk and protest songs, she’s had a few mainstream hits, such as this one, Almanaque.
Almanaque is a tongue twister that asks the questions, which answers you won’t find on a Yearly Almanac. Questions such as, who detonated the big bang at the beginning of times, who created the alphabet and taught it to the teacher, or where does love go when it ceases to exist. The rhythm of the song is infectious, I always feel like dancing when I hear it.
Song Title: Almanaque – 1981 Genre: Latin Artist: Soledad Bravo Composer: Chico Buarque Lyricist: Chico Buarque Album: Caribe
Favourite Lyrics: Dime quien hizo el primer techo que el proyecto no se desmoronó / Quien fue ese albañil ese arquitecto y el primero y valiente morador
Tell me who built the first roof that didn’t fall / Who was the builder, the architect, and the first brave inhabitant?
248 SUNDAY 1 MARCH 2015
All Of You – Frank Sinatra
If you were to hear the original version of this Cole Porter song, you probably wouldn’t think it could be arranged in such jazz/big band style. I’m pretty sure Sinatra had the best arrangers of the time working for him. I love the fast-paced treatment of All Of You in the “Trilogy” Album. Actually, I like all the arrangements on the entire album; they’re beautiful.
Song Title: All Of You – 1954 Genre: Musical Artist: Frank Sinatra Composer: Cole Porter Lyricist: Cole Porter Album: Trilogy: Past, Present, & Future
Favourite Lyrics: I love the look of you, the lure of you / The sweet of you, the pure of you / The eyes, the arms, the mouth of you / The east, west, north and the south of you
249 MONDAY 2 MARCH 2015
Along Came Bialy – Nathan Lane, Madeleine Doherty, Jennifer Smith, Kathy Fitzgerald, Matthew Broderick, Brad Oscar, Cady Huffman, Gary Beach, Roger Bart, Ensemble
Along Came Bialy is the song that will always represent my transition from the United States to New Zealand. It all started in the spring of 2001; just around the time “The Producers” became a certified hit on Broadway. In the show, Bialystock and Bloom, a producer and an accountant, set out to raise two million dollars to put on the biggest flop in theatre history.
Ronald, my partner, and I had considered briefly moving to New Zealand in 1998, for no other reason than for me to be able to freely work in my field of video production. You see, as a consultant at the Inter-American Development Bank, I had a working visa that only permitted me to work at such institution. Why New Zealand? Unlike the USA, at the time, along with the Netherlands and Canada, New Zealand was the only country that extended immigration rights to same-sex couples. We did a little research, but at the time I can’t remember why we abandoned the idea.
Fast forward to 2001.
You know how some people say, if “So and so” gets elected president we’ll leave the country? In a way that’s what we did. George W. Bush had been elected appointed the 43rd President of the United States, and the idea of the Federal Government recognising same-sex couples, or even de-facto partnerships for that matter, seemed far away. Ronald had been freelancing as a labour organiser, but it wasn’t the most exciting work. I was bored at work, and although I had started doing some freelance work, I still felt trapped. On a personal level, as a couple, we were going through a difficult period. It was then when the idea of moving to New Zealand resurfaced.
The first thing we did was booking us a two-week trip to New Zealand. We needed to make sure that it was the kind of country where we could live. A few weeks before the journey we went to New York to see the Sunday matinee of “The Producers”. The show had taken Broadway by storm, and just the week before it had swept at the Tony’s.
At the end of Act I, once Bialystock has raised all the money for the ill-fated show, the entire company comes out to celebrate the achievement. In what, to this day, I still consider the best end of a first act I’ve seen in a musical; Bialystock and Bloom announce to the world that they’re on their way. The company knows their plan will succeed because they know that together; both Max and Leo can do it!
I left the show with the energised conviction that we were doing the right thing. We couldn’t miss! Nothing was going to get on our way. Moving to Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud, was the best plan anyone could think of. From that moment, the song became a hymn, a sort of mantra that kept playing in the back of my head; we’re on our way! We can do it! That period was one of the happiest times of my life. I would never be that happy again.
We spent two weeks in New Zealand, first in Auckland, which didn’t impress us much, and then in Wellington, which put a spell on us as soon as we landed. We returned to America in love with the country, but without any firm commitment to return.
Then, September 11th happened. To this day, I’m not sure how much the events of that fatidical day influenced our decision to move overseas, but it undoubtedly exercised an influence of sorts. We lived on Capitol Hill, only a few blocks away from the US Capitol, which it was believed to have been the target of the fourth hijacked plane. Things changed, the world would never be the same again. We put our plans on hold.
The following year, we revisited the idea and decided to apply for permanent residency, and see what would happen. The plan was for me to apply, and Ronald as a de-facto partner would piggyback on my application. Within a week of applying, I received a letter saying that I had been approved. We spent almost a year preparing for the move. We planned our exit strategy. We decided what to do with our jobs, the house, the cats, and our belongings. You know, all the things you need to prepare for when you’re moving to the other side of the world. Parallel, we started planning an entry strategy into New Zealand. What to do for jobs, where to live, what to do with the money we were bringing, etc. All through this process, Bialystock, Bloom and Co. kept pushing me forward with their steadfast and spirited march towards a defining goal.
In February 2003, we flew into Auckland to activate the residency, I returned to the USA after a week. Ronald stayed in Wellington for a few months. I had to come back to Washington to finish work and sort out a few things before the final move. Ronald came back in May, we finalised the sale of the house, sent Milhous and Hampton, our cats, to New Zealand, packed the house in a container and shipped it on a boat.
We arrived in New Zealand on July 4th, 2003. A week later, we drove into Wellington, and that’s when the curtain came down on Act I.
Our determination, calculated planning, and resilience had proved that we could do it. However, nothing prepared us for the events that the ensuing year would bring. Within 12 months everything changed.
Song Title: Along Came Bialy – 2001 Genre: Musical Artist: Nathan Lane, Madeleine Doherty, Jennifer Smith, Kathy Fitzgerald, Matthew Broderick, Brad Oscar, Cady Huffman, Gary Beach, Roger Bart, Ensemble Composer: Mel Brooks Lyricist: Mel Brooks Album: The Producers
Favourite Lyrics: With their brilliance / Their resilience / Up together they will zoom! / (We can’t miss!) / They were fated to be mated / They’re Bialystock and Bloom!
250 TUESDAY 3 MARCH 2015
The Beautiful Land – Ensemble
The Beautiful Land comes from the 1965 musical “The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd”. I simply love the cuteness of its lyrics and the choir of kids singing about a particular place where all the colours of the rainbow live in perfect harmony. The song also reminds me of the kind of TV jingles from when I was a kid.
Song Title: The Beautiful Land – 1965 Genre: Musical Artist: Ensemble Composer: Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley Lyricist: Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley Album: The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Favourite Lyrics: And if you travelled the world / From China to Peru, / There’s no beautiful land on the chart. / An explorer could not begin / To discover its origin / For the beautiful land is in your heart.
251 WEDNESDAY 4 MARCH 2015
The Best Things In Life Are Free – June Allyson, Peter Lawford
There’s not a moment I hear this song that I don’t flashback to an era when I was young and naïve. I remember those rosy years when I thought all I needed to be happy was to build my life on such a simple premise. I know, I shouldn’t be so cynic; after all, that kind of thinking helped me through my years as a poor student. There are still great things in life that are free, such as the moon and the stars, but that’s just about what they are, free. They’re there for us to look at and marvel. Nothing much you can do with that, I suppose.
When you get to my age, you wish your share of the moon and the stars had any value so you can add it to your retirement fund. I guess I should have been wiser and not only settle for the things in life that were free.
Song Title: The Best Things In Life Are Free – 1927 Genre: Musical Artist: June Allyson, Peter Lawford Composer: Ray Henderson Lyricist: B.G. DeSylva, Lew Brown Album: Movie Classics: Cover Girl – Good News
Favourite Lyrics: The flowers in spring / The robins that sing / The sunbeams that shine / They’re yours, they’re mine / And love can come to everyone / The best things in life are free
252 THURSDAY 5 MARCH 2015
Big Time – Lisa Kirk
As I’ve said before, Jerry Herman gives you full stories in each of his songs; this one is no exception.
From the underrated “Mack & Mabel” here comes Big Time, a group of actors fantasise on how good they’re life will be now that their film company is moving to a larger studio. I became familiar with the “Mack & Mabel” score around the time I had secured a one-year contract with the Inter-American Development Bank in 1992, which meant I didn’t have to go back to Venezuela. I was then making enough money to buy a brand new car and had the disposable income I never had before. I kept listening to this song and fantasising on how my life would be if I stayed longer in the USA.
I used to dream big. Would I ever make it to the West Coast? Would I become a screenwriter? A producer? A director? Hell, could I be all three? What’s with being young and a dreamer? I guess they go hand in hand. None of those dreams became real, but I’m glad I had them. I suppose they served a purpose at the time. Probably they kept me entertained while the real world sneaked in and showed me how much I had already accomplished. I guess that’s when I stopped dreaming and became content with what I had.
Song Title: Big Time – 1974 Genre: Musical Artist: Lisa Kirk Composer: Jerry Herman Lyricist: Jerry Herman Album: Mack & Mabel
Favourite Lyrics: I’m gonna buy myself a pierce-arrow / And wave to all my fans in the streets / I’m gonna have a mansion like Pickford’s / I’m gonna sleep on black satin sheets / And we’ll raise more hell, make more hay / Than decent fellows should / Because the gang from king’s highway / Is goin’ to Hollywood!