Thursday, May 7, 2015

Dead Mouse Theatre - Leprechaun

Like a peacock on fire: By Strauss!

It suddenly occurs to me that my last post probably made no sense to anyone but me. I think - I hope - I was trying to draw parallels between the Biblical story of Jacob and Esau, and George and Ira Gershwin. Sounds silly? Maybe. But it seemed oh-so-significant at the time. My Gershwin exploration is a dreamlike experience, and you know how hard it is to explain or even describe a dream to someone else, if you can even remember it. And somehow it falls apart on remembering.

But meanwhile! Here is a fabulous recording of one of the GG brothers' most charming songs. It has a killer lyric that is very hard to get your tongue around, and a fast, sassy, brilliant tune. Maureen McGovern, an underrated singer with an incredible range, gets around this very handily, and with operatic precision. And for all that, she still has fun with it.  By Jove, by jing, by Strauss is the thing!

(P. S. Kiri te Kanawa does a bizarre version of this in a thick Yiddish accent - wtf?? - and does not sing the high-altitude coloratura solo which McGovern knocks off with such aplomb. Now, it could be that the arrangement was written especially for her. At any rate, like this song that flames up like a peacock on fire, it's killer.)

Away with the music of Broadway
Be off with your Irving Berlin
Oh I give no quarter to Kern or Cole Porter
And Gershwin keeps pounding on tin

How can I be civil when hearing this drivel
It's only for nightclubbin' souses
Oh give me the free 'n' easy waltz that is Vienneasy and
Go tell the band 
If they want a hand
The waltz must be Strauss's
Ya, ya ya, give me oom-pa-pah

When I want a melody
Lilting through the house
Then I want a melody
By Strauss
It laughs, it sings, the world is in rhyme
Swinging to three-quarter time

Let the Danube flow along
And the Fledermauss
Keep the wine and give me song
By Strauss

By Jove, by Jing, by Strauss is the thing
So I say to ha-cha-cha, heraus!
Just give me your oom-pa-pah, by Strauss!

Let the Danube flow along
And the Fledermauss
Keep the wine and give me song
By Strauss

By Jove, by Jing, by Strauss is the thing
So I say to ha-cha-cha, heraus!
Just give me your oom-pa-pah,
By Strauss!

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Gershwin's Ghost: conversation

May 7/15

I should I guess try to slow this down or stop it or spread it out or something.


I’m getting greedy.

For what, we don’t know. But I am here on the line

Does it matter how much things have changed since –

Does it seem to?

No, it doesn’t. This is a timeless time. Are you appearing to people still?

I haven’t for a while because I was not sure they would know me.

Oh they would. For some reason I am thinking of Jacob and Esau

What brought THAT to your mind?

Something about birthright – you and Ira – I don’t know.

“The hands are the hands of Esau.” You know how it goes?

I need to be reminded!

Jacob stole Esau’s birthright, or he sold it for a bowl of soup. Great deal, eh? Did you ever pay attention to what my real name is?


Esau being the eldest, so he’d get the caboodle, all of it.

I just found the reference, here it is:

21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The
Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.
22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.
23 The Lord said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger.”
24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb.
25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment;so they named him Esau.
26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.
27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents.
28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished.
30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.
31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”
32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”
33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.
34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.
So Esau despised his birthright.

Rings true in a way.

I don’t think he despised his birthright but some things do ring true in it, including your own cleverness and the way your personalities contrast. I just looked up the rest of it and Jacob fools his father twice! His father seems unable to go back on it, so poor Esau. . . in a way, he’s cursed, or certainly not blessed. But who on earth could outfox Jacob?

Nobody. He looks after his own. Yet Esau loves him, maybe too much.

He’s beholden to him?

It should be the other way around, but it isn’t. George ends up being the genius.

You have no trouble saying that, do you.

No. I have no trouble saying that. Ira would have no trouble saying that. He was the favored son, but look what happened, I jumped on the piano stool and was off. And it was Ira’s piano. He was supposed to take lessons. You could say the piano was his birthright, and I stole it. At least I had no trouble taking it.

But it really was.

It really was. Did he feel left behind? Then he wrote these incredible lyrics, and it became evident we really were “twins”, with the words and music intertwining.

That is absolutely fantastic! “The hands are hands of Esau, but the voice is the voice of Jacob.” Pulling a switch, there, and a clever one. It’s almost like you/he stole Esau’s hands!

Esau’s hands were hairy. Jacob’s hands were smooth. Boy they sure got it backwards there.

Yeah I’ve seen pictures.  Wow. I’m just resonating from this

Go away and chew on it for a while.

  Visit Margaret's Amazon Author Page!