April Love 2022
Among my least cherished memories from the church of my childhood are the ornate wedding ceremonies that included tearjerker songs. Those traditional tunes, at some point in historic time, had been truly touching and heart-felt. Familiarity, however, can breed contempt!
The song, Because, was one such melodic plea of maudlin schmaltz that, by the late 1960s/early 1970s, had seen, and heard, much more sincere expressions of the heart. I tried earnestly, as a budding teen, to protect my young bud not yet in bloom, by hoping, against hope, that those lyrics of adoration would, one day, consist of more than a traditional nuptial protest-song, perpetrated, with valid indignation, against the Hippie-Boomer guitar-strummed protest songs that comprised the Free-Love Wedding.
And, yes, there did occur, even in the very conventional New Jersey, Free-Love Weddings. I was a bridesmaid at one of them. To this very day, I cannot forget the appalling-ness of it all, which led to even more appalling-ness of all involved, or trapped, in that phony marital state, or states.
What’s love got to do with it???
The love battle of the culture-war ballads was neither a moonlight serenade, or a symphonic walk in the park. It was an all-out auditory assault that pitted the virtue of holy matrimony against the parental pushing (with monetary strings attached) of the last-resort offspring signing that law-filled piece of paper. That much-maligned and mocked Legal Piece of Paper officially ended the shacking up-phase and unofficially rang in the adultery forever, or till death did one of them part!
The species survives, quite splendidly, in spite of the spite of one spoiled rotten generation to upend it.
During the organ strains that bade the tenor to burst into the opening line, I vigilantly concentrated upon, and analyzed, the vocalized approach to emoting too much emotion. I believe that I decided, right then and there, by the dawn of puberty, that the overt pouring of passion, treacly passion, was tacky and tasteless in any vocal form, other than operatic.
And in opera, the tragedy is the point! Medea in a wedding dress is not a pleasant sight.
The caterwauling of frenzied feelings on-stage, or anywhere, leaves me completely cold with contempt for the overtly vulgar delivery of any musical art form. Of course, there’s not much, if any, music, art, form, or any combination of those three terms, going on in the overt goings-on, on-stage, that have been all the rage for the exhibitionists on display. That auditory delivery mimics that of the labour preceding childbirth, with pain.
During the adult male solo rendition of “Because” in that church of my childhood, I tried — with all of my girlish grit — not to gulp when the singer turned red in the face from trying to gymnastically extend the lyrical line beyond where the lyrical line ought not to have gone . . .
Bowing my head to pray was the best, and only honest appearance of a spiritual supplication. Forgive him Father, for he knows not what he’s doing.
I became well-rehearsed as a youngin in maintaining my composure in the face of tragic farce. I’m boning up on those skills today, every day, in the face of the tragic farce that is my State, and my Nation, being chaotically mal-governed by maggots and morons.
I laugh, at times, but the humor is based in an awareness of catastrophe, the cataclysm that the clowns of government have brought upon themselves. Whether or not the culpable citizens know enough to know the difference between misfortune and bad fortune, I leave to the Becauses in their helter-skelter minds, and to the frowns of fortune they’ve brought upon themselves.
It’s not because of past heroes and proud warriors that the present villains and cowards are getting karma’d. I’m keeping a straight face at what is basically their funeral.
I’m quite good at keeping a straight face, especially at funerals. More childhood self-training. Attending five funerals, within in the space of six years, had begun to get to me. My favorite brother-in-law, in a sincere attempt to cheer an adolescent me, whispered a joke in my ear, which only brought on, God forgive me, palm-suppressed giggles.
Given the choice between laughing at funerals and laughing at weddings — I chose neither. I therefore bowed my head many times to conceal my inner self that threatened to show itself. That training has proved invaluable to me!
Dignity, always dignity.
This 1902 wedding song entitled Because began as a dignified outpouring of gratitude from groom to bride. The lyrics were written by Englishman Edward Teschemacher, and the music composed by Frenchman Guy d’Hardelot. The import of the words is, in my opinion, too sublimely poetic to be sung aloud to a crowd. The message is more befitting a troubadour on the trellis, intoning tender words of love, to milady . . .
That tenor performance in church typically became one of vocal histrionics (Mario Lanza may be to blame). The egotistical exploit thereby erased, for me, any realistic hopes of focusing upon the serenely elevated meanings of those words set to music.
The English version is quite direct, logical and forceful in stating the reasons why, or because, this man has seen fit to have Someone (another man) walk this woman down the aisle to take those vows. The singer therefore has little choice but to barrel forth with the becauses!
In fact, the legalistic lexicon is brought to mind: I hear, in my mnemonic mind, the whereas’s built right into this dulcet matrimonial contract. The Napoleonic Code isn’t what it used to be, but, in 1902, at least in France, the Code still held heroic sway in a marvelous way: the protection of the man was equivalent to the protection of the woman. The exquisite symmetry and quiet equality of those sexes were very much intact, back then.
In America, the legal joining of two persons in a union that could all too potentially lead to a nasty divorce was implicit in the very reasoning of the title of this song: Because:
Whereas, the party of the first part, intends for the party of the second part, et cetera, et cetera.
I find the French version infinitely more subtle, yet sensual and powerful (puissant), in the outpouring of a lover’s heart to his beloved; and to God, for granting him merely the sound and the vision of this dream-come-true on earth. A musical entreaty can be whispered with more effect than when it is belted out from a church pew.
My reading of these lyrics in the French is accompanied by the orchestration of a song whose melody is, like the title, enticing, enchanting and beautiful: “Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise”.
The lyrics, however, are utterly depressing. They amply express bitterness, the melancholy certainty of betrayal, and an almost self-gloating sense of martyred love! “Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise” is a composition by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II from the 1928 operetta The New Moon.
Here is perhaps one instance where the tunesmiths were not on the same page; and where, most likely, the creation of the music preceded the writing of the lyrics. At least, I hope that scenario was the case. What a waste of a captivating melody for morose verse! That instrumental gem sure got tarnished!
I cannot fully understand why a tantalizingly melodic celebration of cynical romance made its way to the Broadway stage in 1928. Clearly, the era of “Because” had begun to ebb, with the emergence of this new moon, a suspicious celestial orb that reflected more on flappers than on faithful women wearing wedding rings.
It’s my hope that the newest women of modernity decide to turn the fascination-page to a truly new moon, one that brilliantly shines with the hope and joy of a time gone by. What’s old is new, and true love never goes out of style.
Original French Lyrics
Lorsque j’entends ton pas
Comme en un rêve
Le fol espoir de te revoir s’élève
Et vainement vers toi je tends les bras
Quand j’entends ton pas
Et quand divinement ta voix m’enchaine
Je vois s’évanouir toute ma peine
Et tout ton être chante et vive en moi
Quand j’entends ta voix
Et puis tu viens à moi et je frissonne
Tu prends ma main et tout mon cœur se donne
À toi en un baiser brûlant d’émoi
Car tu viennes à moi !
When I hear your steps
as in a dream
The crazy hope of seeing you again arises
And in vain I reach out to you
when I hear your step
And when divinely your voice enchains me
I see all my pain vanish
And all your being sings and lives in me
When I hear your voice
And then you come to me and I shiver
You take my hand and all my heart gives itself
To you in a kiss burning with emotion
Because you come to me!