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Along Twin Ponds Road

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By Ray Willis

“Oh, what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day….”  Here I go again, singing to myself early in the morning before daybreak.  I just can’t help myself.  It’s a cool, almost crisp, morning.  The stars are shining brightly above.  I’m a lucky man and so glad to be alive.  I only wish more of you didn’t have to rush off to work or to school and that you were able to take life a little bit easier.

As I continued my walk other romantic, well-known American classical tunes came to mind, and I and hummed or sang a few bars from them.  I was remembering in particular about the music from some of the great works of Rodgers and Hammerstein and the musicals that emerged from their wonderful and productive collaboration.

Do you remember the great musical and movie, Oklahoma?  How can one not sing along or tap your foot to the likes of songs such as, “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning," “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top” or “People Will Say We’re in Love?”

I reminisced some more, and my all time favorite Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, "Carousel," came to mind.  If you’ve ever been to the rocky sea coast of Maine and have seen the musical or the movie version of this masterpiece one is somehow able to return to that place and era, and sing along to the music from this show. The “Carousel Waltz,” “It Was a Real Nice Clambake” and “If I Loved You” are a few of the tunes.

I fell in love with Shirley Jones as a younger man when she starred with Gordon MacRae in those two shows.  She was so beautiful, pure and innocent.  I thought they were a perfectly matched pair and they sang so wonderfully together.

How could a young, vibrant man upon hearing “Soliloquy” (My Boy Bill) from "Carousel" sung  by Gordon MacRae, or especially, John Raitt, from the Broadway cast, not puff up his chest  when he listened to or sang the lyrics about the awesome feeling that overcomes him when he envisions that he is about to become the father of a girl for his firstborn child.

How many of you still watch "The Lawrence Welk Show" on PBS or have ever watched it?  If you have not, try it.  You don’t know what you’re missing!  I started watching the show as a teenager – didn’t have a choice.  That’s what Dad watched.  Fifty years after Mr. Welk started his band, the show is still being aired because the public demands it.

Last week Bobby Burgess was interviewed by Mary Lou Metzger after the show.  Do you remember him?  He started out his long career as one of the original Mouseketeers from the Micky Mouse Club.  He then went on to become a long-time dancer and choreographer on the show.

The show’s theme that night was about big American cities and the music that emerged from some of them.  For example, the song, “Chicago” and  other lyrics like “Everything’s Goin’ Right in Kansas City” or the “Sidewalks of New York.”

Bobby spoke of growing up in the days to that music which reflected America’s history and culture.  The songs made you feel good and proud of your country and great to be alive.

I, like him, feel sorry for the youth of today, not having those traditional songs to listen to or remember so that they, too, could get that “feel good” feeling as we did when we were growing up.  Bobby also made a good point that the very popular TV show “Dancing with the Stars” has helped younger folk gain more of an appreciation for music to dance to such as the foxtrot, waltz or the exotic Latin music.

I hope that you have some music stored up in your soul that you find yourself humming or singing at times of the day when you’re feeling good.  It might even bring you up if you’re feeling down.

God bless you.