Friday, May 16, 2008

Never, never, never, never give up

I have always enjoyed the music of Billy Joel. I think the first Billy Joel song I ever heard was Big Shot. It was catchy and it wasn't long before I was singing along. After a while I became more familiar with the Joel catalogue of songs. My favorite quickly became New York State of Mind (its still my favorite). So last week when I got the opportunity to see a touring production of Movin' Out, I loaded up the family and headed to the theater.

Movin' Out is interesting. It is based on the music of Billy Joel with over 20 original Joel songs. There is no orchestra in the pit. There is a band on risers (really a scaffold) above the stage. The combo included bass, guitar, drums, a couple of saxes, keys and of course, a piano. Several of the band members could sing, but the "piano man" was outstanding. He was practically a "Billy Joel impersonator."

The action on stage was choreographed by Twyla Tharp, a native of my hometown. There were several dancers, but five major characters. The basic story line is about two couples and their romantic escapades. The boys all get drafted and sent to Viet Nam where one of them is killed. Upon returning, James and Tony, the remaining boys struggle- Tony with reconnecting with family and friends and James with drugs. There is a very dark section in the middle of this musical.

Finally the boys come to terms with their emotional demons. They reconcile with their girls and they all seem to live happily every after. The music is fun and infectious. The dancing is amazing. It all goes together incredibly well. The night flew by. The show was over before we knew it.

But on reflection there is a very important lesson to learn here. James and Tony live lives that exemplify perseverance. They never give up. Even in the worst pit of depression, addiction and promiscuity they keep going. They never give up.

That reminds me of a famous Bible passage, "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death." I like to remember that the verse is about getting "through" the valley. We should never give up. Never, never ever. Keep giving. Keep living. Keep movin' out.

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