Easy Go

Before I’d even had a serious love affair, there were things I seemed to understand about them anyway.

There were songs about breakups that for whatever reason captured my imagination and moved my emotions. My heart knew what they were about.

One that really resonated with me then, and still today, is a little known song “Tell Me on a Sunday” from the musical “Song and Dance,” with lyrics by Don Black and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The musical is not great, and it’s not a great song musically (sorry, Mr. Webber,) but what the song says is lovely, and it always comes to me when I think about how difficult it is to end something that was once beautiful.

Tell Me on a Sunday

Don’t write a letter when you want to leave

Don’t call me at 3 a.m. from a friend’s apartment

I’d like to choose how I hear the news

Take me to a park that’s covered with trees

Tell me on a Sunday please

Let me down easy

No big song and dance

No long faces, no long looks

No deep conversation

I know the way we should spend that day

Take me to a zoo that’s got chimpanzees

Tell me on a Sunday please

Don’t want to know who’s to blame

It won’t help knowing

Don’t want to fight day and night

Bad enough you’re going

Don’t leave in silence with no word at all

Don’t get drunk and slam the door

That’s no way to end this

I know how I want you to say goodbye

Find a circus ring with a flying trapeze

Tell me on a Sunday please

Don’t want to fight day and night

Bad enough you’re going

Don’t leave in silence with no word at all

Don’t get drunk and slam the door

That’s no way to end this

I know how I want you to say goodbye

Don’t run off in the pouring rain

Don’t call me as they call your plane

Take the hurt out of all the pain

Take me to a park that’s covered with trees

Tell me on a Sunday please

Here’s a nicely acted version by Marti Webb:

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: zoo

Anna & The King & I

One of my favorite songs in musical theatre is the song sung by the character Anna in the 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, The King and I.

I have always loved it, even when I was very young. I watched the movie version with Deborah Kerr, one of my favorite film actresses of all of the many Hollywood movies I watched after school.

Of course I wanted to be Anna. Never mind that she was a widow and having to go to a country far from home to make a living as a tutor and raise her son. Those things went over my head, I think.

She had a wonderful accent and wore gorgeous costumes. And she and the King had such a romantic and special relationship. I practiced talking and moving like her, and sang her songs, preparing myself for the day that I, too, would be a Hollywood starlet like her.

The lyrics of this song have grown more meaningful to me as I age. I feel I can sing this song with real conviction at this point in my life, having known great loves of my own.

Here is the scene from the film. Anna (Deborah Kerr) sings to the king’s many wives, letting them get to know her:

Hello young lovers whoever you are
I hope your troubles are few
All my good wishes go with you tonight
I’ve been in love like youBe brave young lovers and follow your star
Be brave and faithful and true
Cling very close to each other tonight
I’ve been in love like youI know how it feels to have wings on your heels
And to fly down the street in a trance
You fly down a street on a chance that you’ll meet
And you meet, not really by chanceDon’t cry young lovers whatever you do
Don’t cry because I’m alone
All of my mem’ries are happy tonight
I’ve had a love of my own

I’ve had a love of my own like yours
I’ve had a love of my own

Back then, I was not fully cognizant of the seriousness of the situation the lovers in the story find themselves in. They are servants to the King, and their love is forbidden. They indeed must be brave to try to be together, literally risking their lives to do so.

One would think that this ancient story would no longer be relevant. Sadly, it continues to resonate truthfully, reflecting the danger that still can exist between people simply trying to love one another.

I often catch this song floating through my psyche, when times get tough.

Be brave, young lovers, and follow your star. Be brave and faithful and true.

It never ceases to bolster me.


Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: brave


One of my favorite lyricists is Cole Porter.

Seriously, is there any greater master of the rhyme in song?

His rhymes always feel organic. The rhyme is there, but so snugly placed that it feels natural.

As a singer, it feels effortless to memorize and to connect with his rhymes. Maybe because he not only wrote the lyrics but also composed the music for his songs. It is a tight marriage between the two. And a joy to story-tell through.

Porter lived a complicated life, and to me he is like the Tennessee Williams of the musical theatre world. Porter is brilliant and witty, but there is personal heartache interwoven into his beautiful poetry.

One of my favorites of his most intricate songs is “The Tale of the Oyster,” from the musical Fifty Million Frenchmen, 1929. It is really more of a sonnet than a song. So well crafted:

Down by the sea lived a lonesome oyster, Ev’ry day getting sadder and moister. He found his home life awf’lly wet, And longed to travel with the upper set. Poor little oyster. Fate was kind to that oyster we know, When one day the chef from the Park Casino Saw that oyster lying there, And said “I’ll put you on my bill of fare.” Lucky little oyster. See him on his silver platter, Watching the queens of fashion chatter. Hearing the wives of millionaires Discuss their marriages and their love affairs. Thrilled little oyster. See that bivalve social climber Feeding the rich Mrs. Hoggenheimer, Think of his joy as he gaily glides Down to the middle of her gilded insides. Proud little oyster. After lunch Mrs. H. complains, And says to her hostess, “I’ve got such pains. I came to town on my yacht today, But I think I’d better hurray back to Oyster Bay.” Scared little oyster. Off they go thru the troubled tide, The yacht rolling madly from side to side. They’re tossed about ’til that fine young oyster Finds that it’s time he should quit his cloister, Up comes the oyster. Back once more where he started from, He murmured, “I haven’t a single qualm, For I’ve had a taste of society, And society has had a taste of me.” Wise little oyster.

I also love the simpler but oh-so-exquisite “What is This Thing Called Love?” from Wake Up and Dream, 1929.

I was a hum-drum person
Leading a life apart
When love flew in through my window wide
And quickened my hum-drum heart
Love flew in thorugh my window
I was so happy then
But after love had stayed a little while
Love flew out againWhat is this thing called love?
This funny thing called love?
Just who can solve its mystery?
Why should it make a fool of me?
I saw you there one wonderful day
You took my heart and threw my heart away
That’s why I ask the Lawd up in Heaven above
What is this thing called love?
You gave me days of sunshine
You gave me nights of cheer
You made my life an enchanted dream
‘Til somebody else came near
Somebody else came near you
I felt the winter’s chill
And now I sit and wonder night and day
Why I love you still?
There is just one Cole Porter song currently in my repertoire. It is my most favorite. The glorious “After You,” one of his lesser known songs, written to open the musical Gay Divorce, 1932. I simply love it. Here is a beautiful rendition by the sublime jazz singer Sylvia Syms. An aside: she died of a heart attack at the age of 74, onstage at the Oak Room in the Algonquin Hotel in NYC, after a long and rich career. Now that’s the way to go.
Though with joy I should be reeling
That at last you came my way,
There’s no further use concealing
That I’m feeling far from gay,
For the rare allure about you
Makes me all the plainer see
How inane, how vain, how empty life without you would be.After you, who
Could supply my sky of blue?
After you, who
Could I love?
After you, why
Should I take the time to try,
For who else could qualify
After you, who?
Hold my hand and swear
You’ll never cease to care,
For without you there what could I do?
I could search years
But who else could change my tears
Into laughter after you?


#coleporter #thetennessewilliamsofmusicaltheatre #wordsmith #rhymemaster



Through marriage, I now have a large Irish family.

This is a continually astonishing gift. I come from a comparatively small family which, as I wrote about in my former post “On Weddings,” has become even smaller over the thirteen years I have been with my boyfriend-turned-husband through a series of losses. It is now just my oldest brother and his wife and two kids, my three aunts, an uncle, four cousins and their spouses, four cousins once removed (my cousin’s kids,) and a few of my father’s cousins, and their kids-that-are-sort-of-like-cousins.

My Irish family is comprised of 8 siblings-in-law: 6 sisters-in-law and 2 brothers-in-law. I always wished for a sister. Now I have 6! Actually, I have even more than that, because the two brothers have wives, so that’s 8 Irish sisters-in-law (in addition to the incredible woman married to my brother.)

These women, my husband’s sisters and sisters-in-law, welcomed me into the family with such love and warmth. As did his brothers. And their 23 children! Yes, that’s right. There are 23 nieces and nephews. Add to that the children those nieces and nephews are now having. I think at this writing there are 17 grandnieces and nephews, and…wait for it…2 great-grandnieces! (We go over at least once a year for weddings!)

And that is just the immediate family. My husband and his siblings all have cousins who have spouses and they have children, and those children have children.)

I love my Irish family. I come from the midwest, from people who were of Protestant stock. My people are stoic, hold-your-cards-to-your-chest people. We get together in small batches of time. There is love, of course. But it’s, well, a bit more subdued. There’s not a lot of hugging. Storytelling and laughter, yes. Just in short spurts.

My Irish family? These people truly love being together. They gather for epic periods of time!

And any time they gather, it is certain that there will be the “sing-song” and “a bit of craic.” (Craic is a term for news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation, by the way. Pronounced like “crack.”)

This entails each person taking attention to perform a song, or play an instrument (there’s alway one around it seems, spoons if nothing else.) Or recite a poem, in what they call recitations.

This reverence for the spoken or sung word goes way back in the Irish culture. It is truly important and meaningful part of their life. And the love of song! The stories told through song are passed from generation to generation. It seems a rite of passage for one of the “young ones” to start singing or reciting a “piece” that then becomes known as their “party piece.”

At first, these sessions (and they truly are sessions — they often last 10 or so hours, literally into the early morning) were totally overwhelming to me. In so many good ways. I was literally mesmerized by the love and the effusiveness. The laughter! My face and sides would ache.

Of course, I was asked to join in from my first trip there. You would think that as a singer and performer that it would come naturally to just jump in. But I was hesitant at first. What they do is different than get up and sing a song. They sing songs well known to the Irish people, and to their family in particular, and people join in and sing along with each others’ songs. And there is some drinking going on, too, which adds to the joviality of it all. They are usually singing a cappella, or without instrumentation. I mainly know American pop songs and show tunes and am used to singing crafted arrangements with piano accompaniment! I wasn’t sure how to fit what I do in with what I was seeing and experiencing.

When I finally did give in and join in, I was well-received for what I had to offer, and so now I have my own party pieces to do. I also think ahead for songs to do that everyone may know so they can join in. (It feels OK to sing one song that only I know – more of a performance – but it feels weird to me to do more than that.) It is more fun to have everyone singing along. I have taught a round to the group that they love to do (as loudly as possible!)

I have had to develop new muscles for the trips to Ireland for the weddings that bring us back each year. Not only stamina for the epic hours spent together into the wee hours of the morning, which can be additionally challenging while adjusting to the time change. But for the sheer volume of human interaction that occurs.

Being a mostly introvert person, I do love people, but I also need refill-the-well time. I love going deep in conversation; not so much the small talk. I have found my own way while over there. Fortunately, I can just sit and listen a lot. I can take little power naps if need be. No one judges. Being “the American” buys me some wiggle room: I am given some leeway.

But mainly, I just love every moment. I bask in the love and the music. I do my party piece and enjoy their appreciation of what I have to offer.

I am blessed with this extended Irish family. It has been the gift that keeps on giving, this marriage to my husband. I am surrounded by love that helps keep me from getting too blue over the key family members who are no longer here.

And I get to study with true masters the art of storytelling through song and spoken word. It just doesn’t get better than that!

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Post: recite

Mr. Snow

I grew up singing. From pre-school, I was in choirs, and I loved it.

Throughout the chaos and confusion that is childhood, middle and high school, chorus was my lifeline. It was where I found my people. It was what helped me stay as connected to myself as I could be given the trauma of my early life. It saved what sanity I had.

I auditioned for musicals, playing mainly chorus roles. (Except for the role of The Ghost of Christmas Past, which was awesome!)

In college, chorus continued play a crucial role, but I also got more deeply into theatre, which was like finally finding my true “home.”

I had my first lead in a musical, and then a drama. That was it. I was forever hooked.

So after college, I moved to NYC to pursue acting. I trained heartily, and I began to pursue.

And in the course of my training, which required me to delve deeply into my young and perhaps fragile psyche, I found and opened a Pandora’s Box within. And my whole life changed course.

And in the course of that change, I lost my singing voice.

Or perhaps, it was that for awhile, I could not use it.

I would miss singing and try to go back to it, but when I began to sing, my throat would close off and I would feel choked. I would feel overwhelmed with emotion, and I literally could not make sound.

It was terrifying. For something that had always been so central to me to feel unavailable was horrifying.

I entered into therapy, and in time, that was happening to me began to make sense. I was moving through the early trauma and there were memories in my body having to do with holding things in, “not telling anyone” and so forth. I was re-living a time when I literally felt choked.

Later, I came to understand that singing connected me to my breath in such an intimate way and allowed for the expression of my internal experience in such a direct way that while I was moving through that time of awakening and healing, it felt dangerous to my body system to communicate that way.

At a certain point, I once again decided I would try to sing again, as I had tried many times, to no avail.

In a way that I will forever consider miraculous, I found a singing school, in what seemed a fairly random way, in the way that often things of incredible significance can appear to be randomly found.

I had seen a school advertised over and over again in the acting trade paper Backstage called The Singer’s Forum, and one day I finally went in and spontaneously committed to a group class.

That action, which took tremendous courage for me, turned out to be perhaps one of the most important actions of my life.

With that action, again, the course of my life changed.

With the help of several incredible voice teachers and a very supportive environment, with tons of patience and love, I found my singing voice again.

There were many tears. I would feel overwhelmed when I sang. But at the encouragement of one teacher in particular, I learned to accept and relax into it instead of judging, fighting or being afraid of it. And eventually, the tears lessoned. I felt other things. And eventually I felt incredible joy, and I was “home” again.

Then, at this same school, I found miracle number two. I found a mentor, Mr. Johnny King.

Johnny had been a very successful singer and dancer in the 50’s – 80’s. At the time I met him, he had been retired for years but loved nurturing talent and passing along his decades of experience as an entertainer.

I started taking his Get Your Act Together class, and I fell in love. With him, with the art of cabaret, with the Great American Songbook.

He taught me so many things, and he became my biggest fan. He took me under his wing, and he helped me learn who I was as a singer, what gifts I brought to the stage. My own presence. How to be on stage. Phrasing. How to tell my stories through the song.

He changed my life in innumerable ways. He was incredibly generous. He became a kind of surrogate father, and through the way he loved me, I came to understand a healthy male authority figure love.

And I was not the only one! There were a slew of us. We were “Johnny’s kids,” all talented singers whom he took under his wing and gave all he had to so that we could fly as performers. His wing had no limit or shortage. We all felt special under his tutelage.

One of the many things he did as a director and teacher was to suggest songs, and one song he gave me in particular became one of my “signature” songs for a time. A signature is a song that audiences come to identify as “yours” because of a strong connection you have with it so that over time it “becomes” yours in a way. Not every song is like that. When you find them, it is an amazing experience.

I believe songs find me for a reason. When I begin to sing a song, to live it, it changes me, it deepens and expands my life. It is a kind if a marriage, the union between singer and song. And this one was such a special gift.

It was a song called “Mr. Snow” from the musical Carousel, by Rogers and Hart.

I loved singing it. Like any well written song, it was a beautiful journey, a story I got to live each time in a new way.

I sang it hundreds of times.

It’s the story of a woman who ends up falling in love with a fisherman, a man whom some might not consider an obvious catch, but whom she has come to know and love for all his unique ways.

Johnny was an incredible teacher and director, but as we all are, he had his flaws. He could be tough. He was a bit of a gossip. Occasionally, he’d talk out of both sides of his mouth.

One of his flaws was not taking as great care of himself as he took of us. He became sick after ignoring a kidney issue, and never recovered. We never knew how old he was, so I am not sure at what age this happened. He was at least in his 80’s. It was hard to see such a force of the stage in a hospital. He never lost his sassy edge throughout the tribulations of kidney failure and dialysis.

The last time I sang “Mr. Snow” was at Johnny’s memorial service. It had a whole other significance, singing it on that day. He was my Mr. Snow after all, in a way. He taught me how to love a father figure, flaws and all.

As it happens, today when he is so on my mind, I took a break from writing this about him. And I happened to read of the loss of one of the great singers of all time, Barbara Cook. Johnny was a huge fan of hers, and often referred to her performances as teaching points.

I was also a fan, and went to see her as much as possible at Carnegie Hall, at the Met and The Carlyle.

Barbara starred as the character Carrie who sings “Mr. Snow” in Carousel in 1957 on Broadway. She was a true master of the stage, and she will always represent the very best of what the art of cabaret brings to the music world (or to the world at large, really.)

Thank you Johnny King. Thank you Barbara Cook.

You are both in me every time I sing and perform.

I continue to lovingly charge myself to bring all that you’ve taught me and given me to all I do and to give back and share all that you taught me whenever I can.

I leave you, reader, with Barbara’s incredible rendition, later in life, of “Mr. Snow.”

His name is Mister Snow and an up-standed man is he
He comes home every night in his round-bottomed boat
With a net full of herring from the sea

An almost perfect beau, as refined as a girl could wish
But he spends so much time in his round-bottomed boat
That he can’t seem to loose the smell of fish

The first time he kissed me the whiff of his clothes
Knocked me flat on the floor of the room
But now that I love him, my heart’s in my nose
And fish is my favorite perfume

Last night he spoke quite low and a fair-spoken man is he
And he said, “Miss Pipperidge
I’d like it fine if I could be wed with a wife
And indeed, Miss Pipperidge, if you’ll be mine
I’ll be yours for the rest of my life”

Next moment we were promised
And now my mind’s in a maze
For all it can do is look forward to
That wonderful day of days

When I marry Mister Snow
The flowers’ll be buzzin’ with the hum of bees
The birds’ll make a racket in the church yard trees
When I marry Mister Snow

Then it’s off to home we’ll go
And both of us’ll look a little dreamy-eyed
A driving to a cottage by the Oceanside
Where the salty breezes blow

He’ll carry me across the threshold
And I’ll be as meek as a lamb
Then he’ll set me on my feet
And I’ll say kinda sweet
“Well, Mister Snow, here I am”

Then I’ll kiss him so he’ll know
That evry’thin’ll be as right as right can be
A living in a cottage by the sea with me
For I love that Mister Snow
That young sea-faring bold and daring
Big bewhiskered, overbearing, darling Mister Snow


Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word prompt: carousel


A Foggy Day

I am a singer. And I love songs.

All different kinds of music and songs: my taste is eclectic and far-reaching. On a given day you could find me listening to rap, David Bowie and Patsy Cline in the same half hour and loving all three.

That said, I am a musical theatre actress and so of course love all things “musical theatre.” But I have also spent many years performing in the cabaret clubs of New York City, and I think that that medium is one of the most beautiful. The intimacy of the cabaret form is unparalleled.

So I have always had a special spot in my heart for the Great American Songbook.

(In case you don’t know what that refers to, it is loosely defined by Wikipedia as “the most popular and enduring songs from the 1920s to the 1950s that were created for Broadway theatre, musical theatre, and Hollywood musical film. They have been recorded and performed by a large number and wide range of singers, instrumental bands, and jazz musicians. The Songbook comprises standards by George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and also Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer, Richard Rodgers, and others.”)

Thanks to Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett, Rod Stewart, and other contemporary artists, many of these “standards” are still being brought into the mainstream. And the jazz world also keeps these chestnuts alive and well. They truly stand the test of time.

Because the songs themselves are so well-crafted, a singer can take a standard and bring their own interpretation of it to the mix, which in turn resonates with the listener and their interpretation of that particular singer’s arrangement.

It becomes a live collaboration between the musicians, the vocalist, and the composer and lyricist (even though they may have been long since dead,) which comes to life again and again when performed with an audience or recorded to be experienced by a listener.

One of my favorite standards is called “A Foggy Day,” composed by George Gershwin, with lyrics by Ira Gershwin, introduced by Fred Astaire in the 1937 film A Damsel in Distress.

It has been recorded by a zillion amazing singers. But I felt very connected to the song in a specific way. Together with my amazing accompanist and arranger Rick Jensen (an incredible songwriter/singer and one of the most talented people on this planet) and the bassist Mark Wade, we found our own unique relationship with the song.

We recorded it for a demo CD I made many years ago now, but I still love what we found.

I feel such gratitude to the Gershwin brothers for having created such a classic song that spoke to something in me so much that I had to create my own version of it.

I was a stranger in the city
Out of town were the people I knew
I had that feeling of self-pity
What to do, what to do, what to do
The outlook was decidedly blueBut as I walked through the foggy streets alone
It turned out to be the luckiest day I’ve known

A foggy day, in London town
Had me low, had me down
I viewed the morning, with much alarm
British Museum, had lost its charm

How long I wondered,
Could this thing last
But the age of miracles, hadn’t passed
For suddenly, I saw you there
And through foggy London town,
The sun was shining everywhere

For suddenly, I saw you there
And through foggy London town,
The sun was shining everywhere

I am so grateful that music exists, period, to connect me to my own heart, to artists of the past, and to other people, today and tomorrow.

Unchained Melody

There will be a day

When my choked throat opens, when my tongue can relax

And my breath flows free

There will be a day

When the cacophony of other people’s voices inside my head

Become quiet, stilled for good

There will be a day

When all the many tunes of the me’s within

Harmonize as one, swelling chorus

There will be a day

When my I speak, full-throated, my songs of truth

Authentic arias, free at last to soar

Oh yes, there will be a day


Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: harmonize