Thursday, May 29, 2014
On Tuesday evening Joyce and I were driving home from the Aurora Starbucks (evening fix) when I saw a license plate ahead of me, a plate that featured the word "GIGI." And--cliche warning!--I had a madeleine moment. I suddenly remembered that song, a song I'd not thought of for decades, a song that was part of a musical film from 1958--written by Alan J. Lerner (from a novel by Colette, a play by Anita Loos that was on Broadway for 219 performances in 1951-52), by Vincente Minnelli (Liza's father), music by Lerner and Lowe, conductor Andre Previn, starring roles by Maurice Chevalier, Louis Jordan, Leslie Caron.
Here's a link to the film's trailer on YouTube.
I saw the film at the Hiram College Theater one Sunday night when I was about 14. And the title song ("Gigi") grabbed hold of me and whispered in my ear, Love is awesome! It won an Oscar for best song in 1959--and the film took home 8 other Oscars, as well.
Singer Vic Damone had a minor hit in 1958 with that song (it was #88 for the year on one list), and here's another YouTube link to Damone performing the song. And here's yet another link to the lyrics. That year, the top song was "Volare," and Perry Como's "Catch a Falling Star" was also in the top ten. Times have changed--as if you haven't noticed.
As we were driving home, Joyce and I talked about "Gigi" a little bit, and I even managed to jerk into the present some of the lyrics that I hadn't thought about for decades. ... am I standing much too close or back too far? ... when did your warmth turn to fire? your passion to desire? ... But I couldn't dredge up any more than this until I got home.
But what I most remembered was how that song made me feel. It was, in a way, the soundtrack to my adolescent yearning, only recently awakened ... or maybe ignited is a better word. I had a girlfriend in 8th grade--it had sort of started in 7th grade--and I had no clue about how to behave, and I behaved badly throughout the period of our multiple break-ups and make-ups through junior high and high school. I guess I knew how I felt; I just didn't know how to act.
In fact, I realize now, of course, that I didn't know a thing about love, about its demands and responsibilities and joys and sorrows and ecstasies--not until the summer of 1969 when I met a young woman in a grad school class at Kent State, a young woman who would show me, teach me, love me for nearly forty-five years now. And that, my friends, deserves another Lerner & Loewe love song. I could give them some lyrics ...