This is me, second from the right, at age ‘almost 7’ in New York City. My first trip to Broadway to see Hello Dolly! in its inaugural year starring Carol Channing. This is my first recollection of the thrill of song and lyric, and the beginning of my dream to become a Broadway star, which later morphed into wishing to become Barbra Streisand. I digress.
Lyric as poetry has been the source of discussion over the years and a sometimes hotly contested concept. Some musicians have been inspired by poems. Sheryl Crow is said to have read a poem called Fun (1987 Wyn Cooper) with a beginning line of “All I wanna do is have some fun.” You know the rest. Cole Porter, inspired by the western poem Open Range (Robert Fletcher 1934) created the song “Don’t Fence Me In,” sun by Roy Rogers in the 1944 Warner Bros. musical Hollywood Canteen. Adam Bradley in The Poetry of Pop suggested pop music was poetry that must be heard and noted “the dance of word and music makes songs act on our imagination and emotions just as the best poems do.” Exactly. Robert Frost (1867-1963): “Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”
I don’t have the academic answer but I know that the songs of Broadway became my heart and soul and I studied song and lyric as closely as any poem, each one telling story, an emotion, a thought, in words. And in song.
Poetry? I no longer dream of being in the lights on Broadway. All I know is that it makes me smile and hum and occasionally belt out the words. Living line by line, verse by verse. That’s the spirit of poetry and pie. Time to head to NYC- because Hello Dolly! is back starring Bette Midler!