Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Moi, I'm Calm

Whenever I have a song stuck in my head, I need to figure out how it got there. Usually the answer is simple: I heard it earlier that day. Or I heard somebody say a phrase that reminded me of a lyric in the song that I'm now humming.

But sometimes, hearing one song will cause a different song to get stuck in my head, revealing a surprising subconscious link between them. Sometimes the connection is lyrical. One of my housemates was obsessed with the song "All the Wasted Time" from Parade, and a couple hours after she played it for me, I found myself humming "Too Many Mornings" from Follies. Why? Because "Too Many Mornings" has a lyric that goes "All the time wasted / Merely passing through."

More rarely, I make a connection between two different songs because of their melodies...which happened to me today. I had heard "C'est Moi" from Camelot because I was watching some Youtube videos of the Camelot concert that got broadcast a few weeks ago, and then, somehow I got it mixed up with "I'm Calm" from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

Now, I'm not suggesting musical plagiarism on Sondheim's part (Forum opened two years after Camelot) but melodically/rhythmically, the songs have enough similarities that I understand why I started off singing "C'est moi" and ended with "I'm utterly under control." Regard:
c'est MOI, c'est MOI
i'm FORCED to ad-MIT
'tis I, i HUM-bly re-PLY
that MOR-tal WHO
these WON-ders can DO
c'est MOI, c'est MOI, 'tis I.

i'm CALM, i'm CALM
i'm PER-fect-ly CALM
i'm UT-ter-ly UN-der con-TROL
i HAVE-n't a WOR-ry
where OTH-ers would HUR-ry
The rhyme and scansion is very similar except for the last line, and with the re-jiggering of a few words, they could be sung to the same tune. Except, of course, that the subtle differences in their melodies help to define these characters. Lancelot's jaunty, swaggering music would be inappropriate for Hysterium, and Hysterium's hyperventilating waltz would never do for Lancelot.

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