December 3, 2015

ease on down the road...

Sometimes the holidays bring extra stress instead of extra comfort and good cheer.  Memories of loved ones who have passed are especially poignant at this time of year, and I think we can all agree the news around the world hasn't been uplifting the last few months.  Political diatribe, violence all around the globe, terror abroad and at's all enough to make me want to crawl back into bed with an old familiar book and escape through fiction back to a less troubled time.  

So today I'm just sharing a happy memory from the past--nothing heavy, nothing serious.  Just a moment of lighthearted fun, because sometimes that's what we need to keep a smile on our face and our feet pointed in the right direction.  I think every family has their favorite movies--the ones you watch over and over, play the soundtrack in the car until you know all the lyrics, and certain lines become part of your family's lexicon.  Such a movie for us is The Wiz, a 1978 urban re-imagining of The Wizard of Oz with an African-American cast including Diana Ross, Nipsy Russell, Michael Jackson, and the indomitable Lena Horne as Glinda, the Good Witch.  

We love the infectious, toe-tapping music and the amazing choreography--no matter what you think of Michael Jackson's personal life, he was an amazing dancer and never better than as the naive and enthusiastic scarecrow that accompanies Dorothy on her quest to return home.  When the kids would start to squabble, I would find myself telling them sternly "Don't nobody bring me no bad news..."

No bad news
No bad news
Don't you ever bring me no bad news
'Cause I'll make you an offer, child
That you cannot refuse
So don't nobody bring me no bad news

When a vacation trip seemed extra long you could usually count on one us starting to hum "ease on down, ease on down the road...."

Come on and
Ease on down, ease on down the road
Come on, ease on down
Ease on down the road
Don't you carry nothing
That might be a load
Come on, ease on down
Ease on down, down the road

In fact, my husband loved the movie so much he used it in his orchestra curriculum.  Students watched the movie, discussing themes about home and believing in yourself and courage and resilience, and then performing the songs in class.  We've heard from so many of his students over the years how much they enjoyed watching this production and all the discussions about the magic within each of us--the magic to be our very best, to find our own path, to find our own happiness that is buried deep within each of us.  

If you believe
Within your heart you'll know
That no one can change
The path that you must go

Believe what you feel
And know you're right, because
The time will come around
When you say it's yours

Believe in yourself, right from the start
You'll have brains
You'll have a heart
You'll have courage
To last your whole life through

So when our good friends who threw spectacular Halloween parties announced a few years ago that the party theme for that year would be The Wizard of Oz...oh man.  We. Were. Pumped. Up.  Of course we had to watch the movie again and then the kids all created their own costumes.  We practiced a family dance routine to Ease on Down the Road and set off to the party, giggling in anticipation.

We rang the doorbell, and then eased on in the house with my husband's boombox blaring out the music while we all jived our way into the living room... 

Cowardly lion, Glinda the Good Witch, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Dorothy and the Emerald City gatekeeper!
where we were met with confused faces by the all white crowd, who had clearly never seen this version!! Oops!  We quickly filled them in and a good time was had by all.  A great memory--one that always makes me smile.  

With our party host, the flying monkey...

And tonight NBC is presenting The Wiz in a live production with a new all-star cast, including Queen Latifah, Mary Blige and Stephanie Mills.  We may not be in costume, but we will definitely be watching, singing along to the beautiful song Home...

When I think of home
I think of a place where there's love overflowing
I wish I was home
I wish I was back there with the things I been knowing

Wind that makes the tall trees bend into leaning
Suddenly the snowflakes that fall have a meaning
Sprinklin' the scene, makes it all clean

And I've learned
That we must look inside our hearts
To find a world full of love
Like yours
Like me

Like home..

Have a good day, my friends.  God bless you all.