Wednesday, October 24, 2007



"Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens"

I'm as tired of "The Sound of Music" as the next guy. But for some reason I was thinking about the lyrics of "My Favorite Things" today, and I realized they're masterful. Oscar Hammerstein could have said "sunsets and walks along the beach." Yuck. How about pina coladas?

But he captured the vibrant freshness of raindrops on can picture it, almost smell it, and it brings a smile to your face.

He didn't say "kittens." He didn't say "kittens playing." He said "whiskers on kittens." Perfect. You think of the whiskers and you see their faces and think about all their animated cuteness. "Whiskers on kittens" is the phrase that sets off your imagination and memories.

There's an innocence and sweetness in those opening two images.

I can't say that the entire song maintains that high quality, but there some passages that in my opinion are strokes of genius:

"Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings" — magical.

"Silver white winters that melt into springs." In one phrase, he captures the mystery and rebirth of two of the seasons, and the glory and splendor of nature. "Silver white" conjures up images of snow-covered conifers, and when I hear "melt into springs" I picture ice floes breaking up and the first buds breaking through the ground. By using the plurals — "winters" and "springs" — he suggests the passage of time.

One of the hallmarks of great lyricists is their ability to pick out a few key words that capture emotions, meaningful and lingering images, and the essence of what the singer is feeling.

That's what Oscar Hammerstein II has done with this song. And, come to think of it, they are a few of my favorite things.

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