Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Say What Shall My Song Be Tonight?

Many years ago, must be all of thirty or more as we were still living in Richmond Road, Hackney, I thought it would be fun to do a Victorian evening and that was to be its title. I’m reminded of it because I have just finished rereading my autobiography (all 251000 words of it) and hadn’t really thought about just how much music has meant in my life, starting with songs I first heard my mother sing and, occasionally my father who as befits a Welshman had a beautiful tenor voice which unfortunately he was shy of using and had to be coaxed to perform. His favourite song was Somewhere A Voice Is Calling. The Victorians were so full of beautiful song. All right, many of the lyrics were as corny as all get out but the melodies made up for it. Some of George Leybourne’s lyrics makes you wonder how on earth he got away with performing the songs on stage or even for that matter having them published, but the tunes are often extremely catchy, some quite haunting. I think in particular of Ting Ting That’s How The Bell Goes and The Broken-hearted Shepherd which I used in my production of Henry James’s The Innocents at The Wayside Theatre, Virginia. I wondered if Say What Shall My Song Be Tonight would go down well in Crete but somehow I don’t think so. It’s not karaoke for starters and most of the ex-pats here would more than likely consider it old-fashioned and boring. The evening wasn’t to be all song but included spoken humour, bits and pieces and extracts from various magazine articles of interest or, at least, what I thought would be of interest. Somewhere lying around there is still a folder with the heading and a few scraps of paper inside and ideas for which songs to consider using to make a balanced evening. We have a huge collection of sheet music, some songs beautifully bound in albums, others loose, others in published books, especially where folksong is concerned.

Alas, there is so much on the go, I fear What Shall My Song Be Tonight simply will never happen. Chris and Douglas have got themselves involved in theatre again – this time in Athens – and the future for them looks very busy. As for me I will sit here and write and, when the weather gets cooler, get back into the jungle that is the garden. To work there at the moment is impossible. By eight in the morning you are already in a muckle sweat and anyway I was never an early riser though I have to admit, when I have got myself out there with the fart of the first sparrow it has been a very good time. But there you go, let the sparrows have it.

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