Sing and walk on the sunny side of the street

“You’d think that people would

“Have enough of silly love songs.

“But I look around me, and I know

“It isn’t so.

“Some people want to fill the world

“With silly love songs

“And what’s wrong with that

“I’d like to know?”

— Paul McCartney


The world could use more silly love songs.

But, if you’re moving in a groove, singing silly love songs, and wish to enhance your contentment’s quality and endurance, try walking on the sunny side of the street as a storm moves through.

Here’s the drill:

“Grab your coat

“Grab your hat

“Leave your worries on the doorstep

“Just direct your feet

“On the sunny side of the street.”

— Dorothy Fields (1930)

All the while exclaiming:

“Let the storm clouds chase

“Everyone from the place

“Come on with the rain

“I’ve a smile on my face —

“Just singin’,

“Singin’ in the rain.”

— Arthur Freed (1929)

If you’re on the sunny side of the street singing silly love songs when a storm blows through, but you’re able to leave your worries on your doorstep, cognizant that sunshine and rain are transient, then you should be able to drop the “silly” and sing a real love song.

Consider this:

In the 1930s, my father fronted a dance band, Sid Pugh and His Six Matchless Masters of Rhythm. One of the band’s sax players was a fellow named Clyde Vroman.

One night, after a dance job at the old Owl Cafe, Clyde told my father he was quitting the band. He was going back to school — back to high school!

He was in his early 30s, married, and had a child.

Clyde would support his family by giving private music lessons to fellow high school students and renting or selling them musical instruments while serving as an unpaid band director for the high school.

He graduated at the top of his high school class, but refused the valedictorian honor.

Clyde then attended the University of Michigan, earning a B.A., M.A., and a Ph.D. Clyde Vroman became Professor Vroman.

Clyde didn’t just hang around the Michigan Union, being pleased with himself. He knew the importance of music education and went to work making real songs available to young people, providing them a smoother path than he had to follow.

Clyde Vroman and others of his academic generation promoted music in the curriculum of public schools throughout the nation. He was instrumental (sic) in creating the All-State Band program at the Interlochen Arts Academy.

When I attended Alpena High School, the music program included a marching band, a full orchestra, and several choirs.

That extensive program no longer exists.

The argument can be legitimately advanced that reducing music education diminishes the quality of the performances of silly love songs. This contributes to society’s increasing inability to harmonize real songs.

Of course, it’s not just the lack of music training. The increasing lack of polarization, with its consequent loss of harmonization, can be attributed to other causes.

Many people are allowing a single ossified issue, such as guns, abortion, or some discordant note of intolerance to guide their vote, irrespective of its extensive adverse effect. More than the harmony of our political stability and the freedoms of our children and grandchildren could be lost. Hope, too, could be a casualty.

Clyde Vroman took the time to listen to real music — carefully and objectively — not to lies or to songs of silly dissonance, and he listened with a measure of self-confidence and resolve, ever mindful that time’s rhythm flows to a beat not ours.

Though we may play different instruments, sit in different chairs in different orchestra sections, and have entrances during diverse movements, we need to play our part in harmony with others, or no real music can be made.

We can do this without giving up our individual efforts to improve the musical score.

Before a storm hits, consider moving to the sunny side of the street and singing some real love songs.

Christmas and Hanukkah could be a good time for that.

Doug Pugh’s “Vignettes” runs monthly. He can be reached at pughda@gmail.com.


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