Wednesday, 12 February 2014

You'll never walk alone. . .

I've been thinking about people around me going through difficult situations in their lives - at home, school, work and other contexts that they frequent.

What is one of the ultimate football (that's soccer in some parts of the world) anthems in the world You'll never walk alone, taken from Act II of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical sensation Carousel has enjoyed many rounds in its treatment.  Regardless of whether you're a Liverpool supporter or not, (thanks to Gerry and the Pacemakers) you can't fault the majestic sweeping rise of emotions that this song exudes.  It has also been taken on as a football anthem for many other football clubs around the world.

But who else covered this spectacular song? Elvis Presley, KD Lang, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Andre Rieu, not to mention the countless renditions at countless football games with those red and white scarves.  In the Mormon Tabernacle Choir version, I love the orchestral score that accompanies the choir during the song.  In terms of dynamics, you can feel your heart swell in the right moments, such is the power of music (apologies to the cynics, but that's how I describe it!).

At my last school, I had the opportunity to teach a gospel arrangement of the song. It was perfect.  It had the right amount of syncopation, swing and harmonic depth and soul that I enjoy in choral music.
The song to me symbolises the hope of "winning", that despite the despair, darkness or adversity that you face, you must continue to walk on, hold your head up high and not to be afraid of the dark.  In order to "win" you must have hope.  The promise of anticipation and the joy, excitement of the goodness or happiness to come.  Embrace that, don't knock it. Be open to that, it's yours, just around the corner. At times we may be physically alone, but we'll never be alone and you'll never walk alone.

I am glad that in the final scene of the musical, Billy is given his opportunity to see his daughter Louise graduate and the lovely touch that his wife Julie always knows when he's around.  But we know that this is the reprise in the musical, the bookend where we get to see how the song impacts on the ending of the story.

But when did we first hear it in the musical?
We hear it for the first time when Billy makes a fatal decision.
What's the best advice that Julie gets after her beloved Billy dies?
Before we hear the song for the first time with a rousing choir?

Nettie tells Julie, "The main thing is to keep on living".