I have “Molly Malone” stuck in my head. This isn’t a random occurence. I’ve been searching out “seaside” type songs for the show I’m directing for Rascal Children’s Theatre, Judith Lynn: A Story of the Sea. It’s been really fun so far, actually. And who do I have to thank for it? Well, Sting, of course!
I listen to weird music. I always have. Last year sometime, whilst listening to NPR, I bumped into a recording that thrilled me to my toes. It’s called Rogue’s Galley: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys.
I downloaded the song “Blood Red Roses” as performed by Sting. It’s just fantastic. As I drove toward my auditions for Judith Lynn, I listened to it and thought, “AHA! This album will be PERFECT for Judith Lynn!”
After I got home, I started to listen to more of the songs on the album. “Baltimore Whores” sure wasn’t going to make the cut. And then there was some lyric about “Goddamn sailors…” and well, I had to start from scratch. (Sidebar: Rogue’s Galley is smashtastic, children’s theatre aside. It’s like a night a gritty dive bar….in 1792.)
Sort of. I looked up all sorts of Sea Chanteys and Pirate songs and such and I found a few I could use, including (you guessed it) “Molly Malone.”
Ahem: “Cockles and Mussels alive, alive-oh! EVERYBODY ALIVE ALIVE-OHHH, ALIVE ALIVE OHHH, COCKLES AND MUSSLES ALIVE ALIVE OH!” Once when I was at Hilton Head over St Patricks day, myself and some friends found ourselves at a little pub listening to some Irish guy singing songs like Molly Malone. And then he said, “Hey! Let’s do a Scottish tune for our Scottish friends,” and he and I, alone, amidst a crown shout “Wallace! Wallace! Walla— *cricket….cricket*…. The Scots don’t get a lot of love. (I really am a Wallace by the way…It’s me mother’s maiden name.)
The point is, I like to use music theatrically, but not, hmmm…musically…like….musical theatrey, if you know what I mean. I like the music to occur organically from what is happening onstage (re: the “This Little Light of Mine” scene in Storming Heaven.) It can be so powerful. So I’m clam-digging up possible songs for me show. I also asked the cast to bring in songs among other things that rang true for them. (it’s too bad my banjo isn’t it working order…or that I don’t know how to play it… I do have one. It just needs a banjo doctor. Possibly even a banjo pyschiatrist.) I’m sure that some folks find it difficult to be sort of limited to the public domain, but there are so many treasures out there. But then, I’m a bluegrass fan. So, you know…
I like to find a “root”, so to speak, in which I can relate to something. How does a former-farm girl tie-in to a “story of the sea?” With music. And that’s just how I plan to do it.