Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Do you know where you're going to?

Growing up as a pianist, I collected sheet music over the years and played music in my spare time, particularly piano pieces that appealed to me melodically and harmonically.  I wasn't born when Berry Gordy's movie "Mahogany" was released in 1975 but I did have the sheet music for the theme song also known as "Do you know where you're going to?" that I came across in the early 90s when I first started to learn how to play (and I was in my Motown phase).  I am also a huge fan of Michael Masser who wrote the song as he is famous for penning Whitney Houston's songs from the beginning of her career as a solo artist.

I was attracted to the piano arrangement of the song because the music was written in a difficult key to play (yes the G in G flat major stands for "great" NOT!) and I liked the fact that the piece was driven by a series of questions that forced the listener to seriously think about themselves and their reflections on decisions made that impacted on their lives.  Watching the movie again, I could hear where the main melodic motif was cleverly placed or positioned through many scenes, it was Tracey/Mahogany's theme, her quest in the film, the motif resurfacing to remind the audience about the series of questions that the song poses in the chorus and verse:

Do you know where you're going to?
Do you like the things that life is showing you?
Where are you going to?
Do you know?

Do you get what you're hoping for?
When you look behind you there's no open doors
What are you hoping for?
Do you know?



The questions ask about the uncertainty of the future in the opening before the bridges remind us about what lead us to the questions - past experiences and past decisions that have shaped our present:

Once we were standing still in time
Chasing the fantasies and feeling all nice
You knew how I loved you, but my spirit was free
Laughing at the questions that you once asked of me

Now looking back at all we've had
We let so many dreams just slip through our hands
Why must we wait so long, before we see?
How sad the answers to those questions must be

Then we return to the questions that force us to look at what we need to focus on, how to transition our hopes, what we aspire to have to what we know is concrete:

Do you get what you're hoping for?
When you look behind you there's no open doors
What are you hoping for?
Do you know?

2013 may have looked like the bridges of this song, but we can look to the chorus and verse as a map to help navigate us to some answers - in the hope that we don't laugh too hard at the answers before we realise how the sad the answers may be.

Do you know where you're going to?
Who knows.....  let's see what 2014 will bring.