Saturday, December 31, 2016

Beautiful, The Carole King Musical, Steven Sondheim Theatre, New York City

Laura said this was the best thing she’d ever seen. It would be her greatest memory of New York.  We certainly did love it.
“I thought it would be Carole King herself playing piano or something. I didn’t realize it would be all this, the Shirelles, the Drifters, all the songs of my childhood, and all the dance, drama and song….I just didn’t realize how good it would be.” she said.
I was crying. I don’t know what came over me but every one of Carole King’s songs took me back to the 60’s , my teen years, the idealism, the spirit of immortality,  the first love, the belief in everything, Mom and Dad, family, struggling.  I loved the Carole King story. Living with her mother and her sister, in New York,  making her first songs at 16. Girl songs.  The ‘factory’ for music.  The friendships with lyricists and musicians.  The great combinations of that time.  Writing songs as a job.
I never knew that Carole King wrote all those songs with her husband Gerry Goffin. My Carole King started with Tapestry but there was she was one writing the songs before the Beatles.  Back then we just bought the 45’s and played them over and over again.  I didn’t know her friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann wrote the songs they did. I loved the history. I loved the parallel intertwining stories and remembered the friendships I had in those later teen, early 20’s times.  I looked around at the theatre and it was amazing how many of us had white hair.  Also how many of us had tears.  Some of it was laughter. The musical sure had some really funny parts but mostly  it was nostalgia.  It was an era. It was a musical for an era.
The divorce got me. I divorced and she was a beautiful woman too. Maybe the script is determined. Maybe there was no way to dodge the bullet. Maybe all that guilt and beating oneself up and all the comparisons and lack of forgiveness was for naught.  Gerry Goffin and Carole King had two kids.  All I was given was abortions.  There’s hope with children. If not this generation then maybe the next.  Carole King’s was a girl story.  That’s what Don Kirshner kept telling her ‘girl songs sell’.  Girl stories sell.
I loved hearing the Righteous Brothers. It took me right back to my first sock hop in junior high school.  I remembered my first kiss and the touch of her soft skin and the belief that she would always love me.  Cuckolded isn’t cool but then no one feels like we did back then.  It was normal to feel suicidal.  Teen songs were about suicide.  Romeo and Juliet.  But today who knows.  I see the meth addicts. The 20 year olds into drugs and overdose. Today there seems to be more sensation seeking whereas back then we believed we’d find God in erotic love.  I thought agape was to be found in the next kiss.
But drugs were such a large part of the Carole King story, not her but those around her. A regular Al Anon meeting place.  A whole group of untreated addictions.  The music industry.  Art of the injured.  I read an article of the great girls of the day, Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Carly Simon, all of them chosing heroin addicts or alcoholics and the whole good girl bad girl lie thing.  The girl songs and the girl stories.  The Blame Game. That was there but I’ve always beat myself up. I’m the first one to say I’m wrong but then I’ve walked away to. And I felt so sad watching Gerry Goffin talking about the apartment prison.  Girl emotions can be so loud. They’re silent but they’re screaming in rage, the sound of nails on blackboards, and they’re pretty about it, sweet and denying.  But I was crying all through the song “Up on a Roof”.  It was incredible to see the backstory.  “We got to get out of this place.”  “You’ve lost that Loving Feeling.”  These songs we all knew came right out of the context of Carole King’s personal incredible life.
Carole King and her mom and her two daughters and Tapestry.  I loved Tapestry.  I didn’t know everyone else did. I just loved it.  I loved learning all the awards and accolations she won and deserved.  But I’d read her biography before the show and it left out the later marriage to the addict and the communes and the craziness and the domestic violence and all the insanity that came later. It was nostalgic. I love that she’s in her 70’s and has written this incredibly uplifting and wonderful piece about her teens and twenties and it ends with Tapestry.
I think I’d like to write a story of my own life which ends with my graduating medicine before the deaths, the HIV epidemic, the rapes,  abortions, more divorces, drugs, alcohol, lies, betrayals,  and the government lies,  corruption and the deaths by bureaucracy.  I wish life could have stopped at Franny and Zooey and Catcher on the Rye and not gone onto Kafka  Bonhoffer, and Arendt.
Not really. I’m thankful for it all.  I’m happy looking back but there was that innocence. That’s what Carole King captured. That time of innocence. There was that time in the 60’s and 70’s when a whole generation believed, before the Clintons and Bush and the Obamas, before the Castros and Trudeaus.  Before the wars, after the wars, after the wars to end all wars, and the working, always working, always working. and the struggle. Always the struggle to pay the rent and to stop another wasteful death.
There was a time of innocence.  That’s what I was crying about. The dance was just so good. The music was just so good. The songs were just so good and the lyrics really did capture it. And the music really did tell it. And we were young. God we were young.  For a couple of hours we all got to relive our youth.
Remember the Monkeys.
“You’ve got a friend.”  “Will you love me tomorrow"
And when it’s all over, it’s still “Beautiful’.  Thank you Carole King. It really was an emotional rocket ship roller coaster ride and you got it right once again.  Such spectacular art!
Laura and I loved Beautiful, the Carole King Musical!
God I loved this show. We loved this show. And by the teary eyes of all the white haired folk around me we all loved this show.  And there were these neat young people there and they were grooving with the music. And it was hard to believe this but the whole cast was in their 20’s and they were unbelievable. Chilina Kennedy played Carole King and her acting and singing was out of this world. But then all the cast were perfect, dancing, acting , singing. It was the flawless, beautiful ,the best.  In a way it was all we believed it could be.
Thank you Carole King.
IMG 3799IMG 3809IMG 3803IMG 3804IMG 3802

No comments: