I believe both Rob and I have spoken with fond memories of growing up in a neighborhood that was literally within walking distance of Broadway. The Great White Way, where magic happens on magnificent stage settings in hallowed theaters. You recently read about my brothers experience with the wonderful musical “Jersey Boys”, based on the early career of Frankie Valli and the four seasons. In an earlier post, he also conveyed the feelings and emotions associated with seeing the award-winning play “Sleuth” with our Aunt Fil.
My entry today also has something to do with a magical Broadway play called “Fiddler on the Roof”. I certainly hope you are familiar with it. It was my first Broadway play, also courtesy of Aunt Fil. As a quick summary, this musical is set in Imperial Russia in 1905 and is centered on Tevye, the main character, and the father of five daughters. The storyline follows revolves around his attempts to maintain his Jewish religious and cultural traditions as new, outside influences are creeping into his family’s lives. He finds himself dealing with three very strong-willed daughters, who wish to marry for love, which was very much opposed to the “arranged marriages” that characterized the traditional customs of the faith. He also must deal with a harsh edict from the Tsar that will evict Jews from the village they live in. If you have not seen it, or at least read it, I encourage you to do so.
The title of this entry is Sunrise, Sunset which was one of the most well-known and loved songs performed in the play. I experienced this play as a young boy and the lyrics really did not affect me, though I could “feel” the sentiment and I loved the melody. The song is performed at the wedding of Tevye’s eldest daughter. It is performed by Tevye and his wife, Golde. They sing about how they can’t believe their little girl has grown up so quickly…. Where have the years gone? Their other two daughters join the song and express their hope that there may be a wedding based on love in their future as well. Allow me to share the lyrics:
“Is this the little girl I carried?
is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older,
When did they?
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday when they were small?
Sunrise sunset, sunrise sunset,
swiftly flow the days,
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers,
Blossoming even as they gaze….
One season following another,
Laden with happiness and tears………
Again, as a young boy, these lyrics didn’t hit home at all. My whole life was ahead of me, time was a non-factor.
Ah, but now, things have changed. I can still remember the theater, I remember the scene, I remember the lights of Broadway and how they enchanted me…. I remember the haunting melody…. But now, at this point in my life, the lyrics have become the most haunting part of the song.
I must say, this was all triggered by an email my brother and I received from my daughter, Jennifer. Jennifer lives in Seattle and is a wonderful writer and is the author of a very good Blog entitled “Vodka Calling”, you should check it out. Anyway, she wrote to Rob and me about a piece she was working on that had to do with a memory she had as a little girl. It took place in the apartment on 17th street in New York that Rob and I reference so much in our recollections about our childhood. She remembered playing on the floor in the “living room’ and she remembered me constantly checking on her. She recalled her Uncle Robert showing up, dressed in the trendiest look of the day with his long hair flowing at his shoulders. She recalled him listening to Queen shout out their anthem; “We will Rock you!” and Dad telling him perhaps he should turn it down a bit. She had a vivid recollection of Mom and Dad giving her a new baby carriage for her dolls.
In the email, she asked Rob and I if any of it sounded familiar, as it was so many years ago. Immediately, we remembered. What he was wearing, the music, the long hair the baby carriage…. All of it. And the memory was good. It brought me back to another time and place, a good place that had been lost in the closet of my memory, only to surface because of her email.
…and that folks, is what brought me to “Fiddler on the Roof” and the song, Sunrise, Sunset. For whatever reason, the play came to mind last evening and of course, the song in question.
The lyrics struck like a blow to the chest as I recalled my two little girls when they were still playing with baby dolls and my little boy who is now serving in the US Navy. I remembered my brother, looking gorgeous in his trendy clothes and long, flowing hair…… I remembered Mom and Dad… and I wanted it to be all that way again.
But, “Swiftly flow the days………..”
It’s amazing how quickly the years pass, and you wake up one day and wonder: ‘Where did the years go?’
Indulge me I the Lyrics of one more song? September of My Years, by Sinatra:
“One day you turn around and it’s summer
Next day you turn around and it’s fall
And all the winters and the springs of a lifetime
Whatever happened to them all?…..”
So the moral of all this? Enjoy today! Relish the sunshine and the moonlight, eat good food and spend valuable time with your loved ones. Go outside and look at the night sky. Hug your kids, hug your dog, hug your cat. Don’t get caught up in the BS…. It is fleeting.
I lied…. One more lyric…. I hope I don’t have to name the song or group……
“What a drag it is getting older………..”
Damn you, Cobblestone Dreams.