Every once in a while you bump into something from your childhood that totally takes you away to a different plateau, one far away from your current foundation. It is exhilarating, refreshing, nostalgic and just plain wonderful. Memories of the time and where you were in it, blossom before you. You immediately sense a certain euphoria and escape from everything current that’s been bothering you. You are, at least for the moment, baggage free. Oh what a feeling.
Well, it was time out for me. This post is about where I’ve been and I’m not sure I want to return. For you it may be an old car, a house or school that were once part of your past. Or maybe it’s a shopping center or a summer cottage at the shore. It could be anything. You will know it when it hits you.
What hit me the other day was the song “Ya Got Trouble” from the old Broadway musical, The Music Man. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know. It was only a moment in decades of moments. In fact, I never saw the show on Broadway and I am not even sure if I ever saw the movie. I do know that my father’s generation used the phrase, We got trouble right here in River City, in the same context that many of us say, Houston, we have a problem.
Trouble is the song that cements the plot of the The Music Man. It’s the story of Harold Hill, a conman who comes to a small Iowa town and schemes up good reason for the parents to support the founding of a band made up of the town’s youth. Once convinced that music will steer their yougin’ away from sin and evil doings (pool being one of them), the parents will fork over the money for instruments, uniforms and music lessons that Harold—who else?–will sell to them. Trouble is, Harold doesn’t know an eighth note from a Cliffs Note and plans to skedaddle town once the money comes in. Of course, a love interest develops and it muddies up everything.
The Music Man is all so typical 1950’s Broadway Musical that it would normally be buried in my memories never again to surface…except for that damn phrase that my dad—and now me—use to define a troublesome moment. And even just on that, I probably would deep six the whole memory but for one thing…or, actually, for one person. And that’s Robert Preston. He played Harold Hill. That’s him in the picture. Preston owned the role of Harold Hill forever (Music Man originally ran for 1,375 performances).
It is Preston’s version of the song, Ya Got Trouble that has smacked me upside the head and set me into my own La La Land. His diction, his style and tone, his characterization and everything about him–they’re all spot on, as is the incredible choreography of the townspeople. You have to watch it several times to appreciate all the subtleties, the timing, every expression on every person’s face and the attention to details going on in the background. And, BTW, buried deep in that background is a very young boy who then went by the name, Ronnie Howard. Fascinating, he went on to eventually direct the movie, Apollo 13 from whence comes Houston, we have a problem. Okay, I get it, you may find all this very old and corny. But, as the saying goes, you had to be there in order to go back now and appreciate it even more. I share with you a classic: Robert Preston’s rendition of Ya Got Trouble from the 1962 movie version of The Music Man…
Click here: YA GOT TROUBLE