When I was a teacher in the late 70s, one of my students saw The Empire Strikes Back at least seven times in the theater. He had the movie pretty much memorized. This was back before people videotaped movies, and DVDs were long in the future, but it still seemed pretty funny to me, imagining someone so obsessed with a movie to see it more than once.
It was a no-brainer that one of my kids would give me the DVD for Hairspray for my birthday. It was released on the 20th, when I was still really sick. But of course I wasn't too sick to veg out on the sofa watching a peppy, uplifting movie.What is it about musicals that appeals so much to me? In high school I got into an argument with my brother’s best friend when he said musicals were stupid—that no one on earth breaks into song during daily life. He seemed right--I didn’t know anyone personally who sang through daily life—but it seemed like such a lovely way to live.
Every love song ever written has been sung by birds, only in different languages and notes. Anticipating love. Falling in love. Mockingbirds without mates sing literally all night long, all about the tragedy of unrequited love and their hopes that one fine day someone will look at them and know their love was meant to be. Cardinals and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks sing their love songs as duets. Cranes, swans and geese sing their own version of “Together wherever we go,” while hummingbird males channel Ricky Nelson’s “Travelin’ Man,” making a lot of stops and having memorable one-night (or, for hummingbirds, one-day) stands. A young Merlin might easily break into a round of "Bohemian Rhapsody," starting with “Mama, I just killed a finch. Put a talon to his head, bit his neck and now he’s dead. And mama, it felt good to me.”
I think it would be hard to think of a musical or a song some bird didn’t sing first, in its own avian way. No—I take that back. There’s one musical no bird would ever want to take part in in any way, shape or form. Cats belong indoors, even in musical form.