Far From the Home I Love

The Chicago Tribune building: ruins from the home I love; far from NYC, the home I love now.
The home I love...
Whenever I tell people I'm from New Mexico, I get the following sequential reaction:
1. Look of surprise and delight (New Mexico's inhabited!?).
2. The excited query: "Albuquerque?"
3. A look of wonder at the size of Western states when I reply, "No, about 5 hours south of Albuquerque."
4. "Wow, so that's like... really close to Mexico."

My hometown is approximately in the middle of the triangle made by Albuquerque, El Paso, and Tucson.  It is, in short, in the middle of nowhere.  Going home for a weekend, even a 3-day weekend, isn't worth it - no direct flights, and a lot of time on the road between home and the airport.  It's a little bit as if I left Siberia to find the home I love in New York City.  I find this song and scene to be one of the most moving in the musical theater repertoire. 

You know what I love about Fiddler?  Well, two things in particular.  I love that it's the young women in the show who move forward with the changing world.  Their men catalyze the change, but it's the women who really have the high stakes (poverty with the tailor rather than prosperity with the crusty old butcher, a dangerous trip to Siberia to be the helpmeet of a political dissident, disownment for marrying outside the faith).  I also love the juxtaposition of joy and sorrow that pervades the show - life is hard, but magnificent.  I'm teaching a short version of it to tweens and teens at Camp Broadway this week, and I was trying to explain this concept to them - the best example I could think of was a yin-yang: there's a little drop of joy in suffering, and a little drop of suffering in joy.  Songs like "To Life" are upbeat, but acknowledge suffering in lyrics like "...and if our good fortune never comes, here's to whatever comes".  "Sunrise, Sunset" is such a poignant wedding song, but trying to get kids from the instant-gratification generation to do it as anything but a dirge is like pulling teeth, because it's a slow song in a minor key. 

Ah yes, major/minor... this brings me back to today's song: form AABAA... ooh, an extra A section!  But Bock manages to support the meaning of Harnick's lyrics and keep from being boring by changing modes (it major/minor) with each A section:
A - minor - "how can I hope to make you understand..."
A - major - "once I was happily content to be..."
(B section - major)
A - minor - "oh what a melancholy choice this is"
A - mixed! - 1st phrase major: "there where my heart has settled long ago..."; 2nd phrase minor: "who could imagine I'd be wand'ring so?"