Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Old Postcard Wednesday--Irish Brigade Monument, Father Corby Statue, Gettysburg, PA--combined this week with Songs My Mother Taught Me . . . How Are Things in Glocca Morra

Glocca Morra is a fictional Irish village that seems very real in the play and movie, Finian's Rainbow. The Battle of Gettysburg in the Civil War was all too real, the horror of which we might only wish was fictional.

Gettysburg has never been high on my list of U.S. sites to visit, but after looking at this antique souvenir booklet of postcards from Gettysburg kept by my grandmother I realize that I would want to see it if I was traveling anywhere near its vicinity. This postcard from the booklet seemed to beg to be selected for posting in conjunction with one of the songs my mother taught me: How Are Things in Glocca Morra. The song always puts a lump in my throat, and even more so when I think of young Irish-American soldiers fighting at Gettysburg and possibly dying with images of Ireland as last thoughts in this life.

The best birthday I had as a kid was when I turned ten years old. My mother told me to invite school friends -- I think there were eight girls -- for my special party. She then clued their mothers in on the festivities, but it was kept a surprise from my friends and me until we arrived at the University of Nevada theater to see a stage production of Finian's Rainbow. It was so marvelous, like being in a dream I never wanted to end. I thought How Are Things in Glocca Morra was the most beautiful song about the most beautiful place I'd ever imagined. It was sheer excitement for a group of girls, and was topped off afterward when we went to Harold's Club, where my mother had reservations in the 3rd floor restaurant that allowed children accompanied by adults (rules were more stringent then than in casinos now). Harold's Club had the best bakery in town and it made the most delectable banana nut cake. That's what I remember eating, although lunch preceded cake. Years later, when I was a student at the University of Nevada, I had a part time job in a local savings and loan that had a practice of providing a cake each month to celebrate the birthdays of all employees born that month. I was in charge of getting the cakes from Harold's Club bakery, then still considered supreme for fine cakes. Can you guess what kind of cake I ordered when my birthday month came around?

As the luck of the Irish would have it I discovered, while working on this post late Tuesday night, that the first Broadway revival of Finian's Rainbow is set to open in the day following this Old Postcard Wednesday! The production website -- finiansonbroadway -- is exciting, with video previews. I also enjoyed an introspective essay about the show at Daily Kos, in part:

"Look to the Rainbow," the return of Finian
I rarely get a chance to go to Broadway shows anymore, but am planning to schlep into NYC, and stand in line for tickets to see the first Broadway revival of Finian's Rainbow, a musical that debuted in 1947, the year I was born.
The Irish Examiner has an interesting review of the show, scheduled to open on October 29th at the Saint James, which speaks pointedly to why the show hasn't graced the main stage in 63 years, even though it produced songs that have since become standards, like "Old Devil Moon", "How Are Things in Glocca Morra," and "Look to the Rainbow?" . . .

I had written the majority of this post Tuesday afternoon, describing the selection for the postcard this week, my tenth birthday party, etc., and then spent the evening with Michael before returning to finish it late at night. Discovering that the revival of Finian's is opening this week, and this occurring on the anniversary of my mother's death, is one of those ICM's (Ironies/Cosmic Messages) I wrote about in an earlier post that relate to her. ICM's are random and magical occurences that have comforted and amused me since my mom's passing, especially in the month between her birthday and death.

Now I'm finishing this post feeling ........ comforted and amused!

From Finian's Rainbow
(Words by E.Y. Harburg / Music by Burton Lane)

I hear a bird, Londonderry bird,
It well may be he's bringing me a cheering word.
I hear a breeze, a River Shanon breeze,
It well may be it's followed me across the seas.
Then tell me please:

How are things in Glocca Morra?
Is that little brook still leaping there?
Does it still run down to Donny cove?
Through Killybegs, Kilkerry and Kildare?

How are things in Glocca Mora?
Is that willow tree still weeping there?
Does that lassie with the twinklin' eye
Come smilin' by and does she walk away,

Sad and dreamy there not to see me there?
So I ask each weepin' willow and each brook along the way,
And each lass that comes a-sighin" Too ra lay
How are things in Glocca Morra this fine day?

I also love the version by fleetingdays on his "Italian 1970's Pearlized "White" Gem (Quad reed) Chemnitzer Concertina Solo."  *Click* to hear the sweet sounds.

{This is the 13th in an undetermined number of songs my mother taught me I'm posting this month in her memory. For background, please visit the post containing the first song, Ivory Tower.} 



Don't Feed The Pixies said...

The first thing i always think of when anyone says Finian's Rainbow is the Monty Python sketch where some 2nd rate director is making versions of films with his friends and creates a 2 minute film of Finian starring the man from the offlicence (basically just shuffling embarrasdly in a puddle)

However, reading your post has made me wish i knew a bit more about the original. Next time it comes on telly i will give it a try.

On the subject of which there was a thing in the free paper the other day saying that Tommy Steele (Fairly sure he's in the film?) is currently playing Scrooge in the UK and still fighting fit in his 70s!

I always love the level of information you provide with these postcards and this was especially personal xx

Melinda said...

Hey Lydia,

I had to stop by for Old Postcard Wednesday--and what a wonderful find this one was! First, I think it is hilarious that in old postcards, they felt they had to tell you "This space if for writing." (ha ha ha ha ha).

I LOVE Finian's rainbow--I was in a production of it as a child and later sang that song as part of a cabaret act I did in San Francisco during my theater years.

Your old postcard Wednesdays have never disappointed!

Take care,


Margaret Pangert said...

This has been quite a trip, Lydia! I wish it could go on forever! (I did put a great old song on my blog--hit play first, then follow my pictures with the song.)
omg, you're coming to New York! I'll put a light out for you! My husband got tickets for our anniversary to see Finian's Rainbow--November 16 (it may be a day or two before; I would have to check.) Billy was in his high school producton of the musical, and I love everything Irish--have been to Ireland twice. I don't know this play so well, but Bill says it is fabulous! As does Lydia!
Loved the story of your very elegant and sophisticated tenth birthday party--I've been to Harold's in Reno!
Well, remember to bring layers--sweaters, jackets, mufflers, long johns, boots, gloves... Have a great time! xxox

Lydia said...

@Pixies- Thanks much for the comments and additional information (Tommy Steele). I hope you do get to see Finian's on the telly, and soon!

@Melinda - Yup, those explanations were something else. What I cropped was the additional instruction saying "This space for the address." Not "for address," but "for the address"!
I can hardly believe my excitement to read that you were in a production and a Finian show. That is so cool.

@Margaret- I'll be over quickly to see your video!
NO! I am not coming to New York! I wish it were true, but I do think that you read the beginning of the review by Daily Kos and thought it was by me. It is beyond belief that you get to see Finian's for your anniversary. I really really hope that you blog about it! xo



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