Monday, February 27, 2006

Singing About Our Families

This is a post I've been meaning to put up for a few days now, and this post on babycakes really spurred me to get it done.

Anyone who knows me wouldn't be surprised to hear that I experience a great deal of life through musical theatre (as a listener, *not* a performer). I am a particular fan of the Broadway show "Falsettos," originally a trilogy of plays by William Finn ("Falsettos" leaves out the first play in the trilogy and combines the second two into one show with an intermission). A brief synopsis: it's about a gay man in New York City in the early 1980s. He divorces his wife (and thus leaves his son's home) to be with a man. His ex-wife then marries the psychiatrist they both see. And yes, tragedy (in the form of AIDS) ensues. But, it's funny, too.

This song from the show has long been a touchstone of mine about our families. It's from the point of view of a heterosexual (the wife left behind) who is able, eventually, to go with the flow and understand that her family is not what she expected, but it's a wonderful family nonetheless. (I thought I'd just be able to link to the lyrics, but couldn't find them anywhere, so I'm transcribing them here. I think it's worth it.)

Holding to the Ground (lyrics by William Finn)

I was sure growing up I would live the life my mother assumed I'd live
Very Jewish very middle-class and very straight
Where healthy men stayed healthy men and marriages were long and great

I smile, I don't complain
I'm trying to keep sane as the rules keep changing
families aren't what they were
Thank God there's a husband and a child whom I adore
But then there's more
So many more
There's always more

Life is never what you planned
Life is moments you can't understand
And that is life

Holding to the ground as the ground keeps shifting
Keeping my balance square
Trying not to care about this man who Marvin loves
But that's my life
He's shared my life
Yes, that's my life

I'm plain, I don't complain
Holding to the ground as the ground keeps shifting
Trying to keep sane as the rules keep changing
Keeping up my head as my heart falls out of sight
Everything will be all right
Everything will be all right

P.S. Co wants me to make sure to mention that this is Lo's post, and Co dislikes musicals.


Whimsy said...

this song always makes me think of some sort of upheaval...

What spurred you to post this now? Is everything ok?

I mean, yeah, everything WILL be alright... I know it too. But what's up?

charlotte said...

I'm with you Co. Right there with you disliking the musicals.

Lo said...

But Charlotte....dont' you see the *wisdom* in that song!!!
There's nothing wrong at all. I just think that song says a lot about the changing identity of families in general, and that it's from the perspective of a straight woman who *could* just have a "normal" family, I think that's powerful.
(Please note: musicals can be politically powerful. :-)

Calliope said...

I hear you, Lo.
I'm not a musical person per se, but I get that the lyrics are powerful for you.
I go to Liz Phair for my power ballads ;-)