Thursday, October 14, 2010

Life, The Musical

I've often imagined what it would be like if Life were a musical. You step foot out of your apartment to greet the day and suddenly you're singing a solo and everyone on the street seems to know the words. There's a posse of Broadway dancers doing jazz runs behind you as you cross the street. The number ends with a bang (an arial shot of the cast looking up with their arms in the air) and then life goes back to normal, except now everything's just a little brighter.

These fantasies were born from a childhood of watching movies like Singin' In The Rain and Meet Me In St. Louis. They shaped my view of the world and turned me into a hopeless romantic. There was a sense of togetherness and community in those musicals–no matter what came your way, you were armed with a slew of extras who could help you express how you felt. These songs asked us to appreciate the moment and embrace Life as it unfolds.

Given the stress of our times, I think we could use a bit of this magic in our lives. Instead of togetherness, we often feel alone. People don't make eye contact in the street or smile at strangers (or sing their worries to those standing by). Most of us are tired, impatient and downright cranky. There's just not enough time to invest in the people that cross our paths: our dry cleaners, the person who sells us our morning coffee or the people who pass us on the sidewalk.

I was recently reminded of the power of song after watching this week's episode of Glee. When Chris Colfer and Lea Michelle performed Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy, I was flooded with feelings of nostalgia and joy. I dug out my iPod, downloaded the song and haven't stopped smiling since. I listened to the song on my way to work and it turned my silent, hamster-in-a-wheel commute into a relaxed stroll towards my destination. "Forget your troubles, come on get happy" (I struck up a conversation with the barista at Starbucks)..."You better chase all your cares away" (I noticed the sparkle of the shop windows)..."Shout hallelujah, come on get happy" (I watched people pass by in a hurry and imagined them trying to get home to dinner on the table or a family waiting for them after a long day at work)..."Happy days are here again" (I literally couldn't wipe the smile off my face).

It's possible people were staring at me, as smiling is often a cause for concern ("She's probably crazy"). Surprisingly enough, I received a few smiles in return and felt genuinely connected to those strangers in that moment. Having a soundtrack to my evening brought me more into the present moment than I'd been in a long time. It was my song–the style, the genre, the "old New Yorkness" of it all– and it captured everything I love about being in this great city (I told you...hopeless romantic). I was inspired to be a good "extra" in someone else's musical: to listen, to share, to connect with the people that crossed my path.

In these tough times we can find hope through the camaraderie of song and so I encourage you to find your own soundtrack. What songs capture your life right now? What brings a smile to your face? My soundtrack is entitled "Autumn In New York"; these songs make me feel like the star of my own musical and inspire me to ask the question "What would Gene Kelly do?" Maybe, when no one's looking, I'll kick up my heels and twirl around a lamp post before continuing on my way.

"Autumn In New York"

Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy - Glee Cast
I've Got You Under My Skin - Frank Sinatra
They Can't Take That Away From Me - Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
C'est Si Bon - Eartha Kitt
It Had To Be You - Harry Connick, Jr.
Singin' In The Rain - Gene Kelly
The Way You Look Tonight - Fred Astaire
The Trolley Song - Judy Garland
Count Your Blessings - Diana Krall


  1. love glee & your attitude chrissy! fantastic playlist xx

  2. This one does it for me... :)