Pick Yourself Up

President Obama’s inauguration speech included a number of important historical and literary references or allusions, from the New Testament to Abraham Lincoln to George Washington to Dr. Martin Luther King. My personal favorite, though, was to Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields. Obama’s line, “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America,” is a sly reference to the song”Pick Yourself Up” in Swing Time, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

I wonder if his mother sang that line to him (“pick yourself, dust yourself off, and start all over again”) every time he fell or got hurt or didn’t succeed at something or had some kind of setback, as my mother did to me. All these years later, I still find myself using these lines as a mantra to get through difficult times. There are many other lines my mother would sing to us, as if all of life’s instructions could be conveyed through the hooks of songs from musical theater.

That may be the real power in America’s Broadway shows–the didactic and instructive potential through memorable textual and melodic lines.

Advertisements

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: