EmPulse for Week of February 15, 2010
The Band Played On, also known as Casey would waltz with a strawberry blonde, was a popular song, with lyrics by John F. Palmer and music by Charles B. Ward, written in 1895. The lyrics of the refrain are:
Casey would waltz with a strawberry blonde
As the band played on;
He’d glide ‘cross the floor with the girl he adored
As the band played on;
Well, his brain was so loaded
It nearly exploded
The poor girl would shake with alarm;
He’d ne’er leave the girl with the strawberry curl
As the band played on.
Almost a century later, in 1987, it was used as part of a book title to represent an attitude of governmental indifference and political infighting in the United States over what was perceived to be a specifically gay disease— And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic written by San Francisco Chronicle journalist Randy Shilts.
In this first decade of the 21st century the music and lyrics are all but forgotten; or are they? It still pops up as muzak in elevators, WalMart, art-films, and Titanic movies. Invariably, it finds its way into every Guy Lombardo classic. And I have no idea why it’s been running through my head these past couple days.
… and the band played on brings to mind the safety of sameness, of settling into a life-pattern, the regularity of a schedule, and the reliability of cohesive-consistency in life-style and demeanor. It raises an image in the mind of placid peacefulness that is not pale, but solid, serene, secure. D-e-p-e-n-d-a-b-i-l-i-t-y ! A quality of significant merit in our present social structure.
For many people it is their simple, reliant contribution to the stability of family and workplace. For others, it is a façade; for they are enraged within, a boiling caldron of conflicting emotions & life-philosophies. And still, for others, establishing this cohesive-consistency to life shields them from having to confront the conflicts that surround them— at work, at home, within themselves, even in the oddities of governmental directives. They hide within the safety and complacency of their well-ordered lives, trying as best they can to stay unruffled by any external assaults to their protected patterns.
This is not living.
Living is more like managing chaos and hoping for the best. Whether you are performing surgery, planning a mission to Mars (whoops, forgot budget cuts), or the annual spring cleaning, you know full well that it all gets messy. Life is not neat. If you are in complete control of your life then you either have a very small life or you harbor a secret fear of stepping out of your comfort-zone. In short, you have trapped yourself within, and are falling short of the greatness God holds out to you.
Picture yourself in a ballroom, with people whirling all around— beautiful paintings on the walls, crystal chandeliers above giving off a sunset warmth, and the most enchanting music playing. “and the band played on.” You— pressed against the wall in a corner.
Wouldn’t you rather be dancing?
Have a nice week.