I have long loved the song “Dancing In The Dark.”
It was originally written for a 1931 revue called The Band Wagon — which was notable for being one of the last times that Fred Astaire and his sister Adele performed together on Broadway.
The lyrics feel like an existential poem to me.
They were written by Howard Dietz — who also co-wrote the script for The Band Wagon with George S. Kaufman — plus music by Arthur Schwartz.
Dietz went on to become the head of public relations at MGM movie studios.
He is reputed to have chosen their lion logo as well as their motto: Ars Gratia Artis (art for art’s sake).
While based in MGM’s New York office, he wrote co-wrote songs for decades with Arthur Schwartz, including “That’s Entertainment” for MGM’s film version of The Band Wagon in 1953 — which again featured Fred Astaire, who performed with Cyd Charisse while…”Dancing In The Dark.”
The message of the song seems particularly appropriate in the days leading up to a very important national election here in the USA.
I have been limiting my exposure to radio and TV because most of the news is simply very high-octane speculation.
However, I was happy to learn that early voter turnout is very high.
People are engaged with the political process!
But I am also concerned that gun/ammunition sales are very high (although I have been told this often happens when gun-using folks in the USA fear a Democratic victory which might lead to future firearm regulations…)
The state of our democracy can seem very dark these days — with our president repeatedly saying that he may not honor the results of our upcoming election while simultaneously casting seeds of doubt about the voting process itself.
And he continues to hold large public rallies during a health pandemic — after one of which his ally (and former presidential candidate) Herman Cain died from COVID-19.
All the while hospitals in cities around the United States fill up to capacity…
And nurses, EMTs, and doctors — who are working 12 hour shifts day in and day out to save the lives of their fellow citizens — continue to plead with us to wear our face masks, wash our hands, and maintain our social distancing…
I am truly amazed by our health care workers’ dedication, selflessness, and love for their fellow human beings.
I am amazed that they show up for work — day after day and night after night — while putting their own lives AND the lives of their loved ones at risk for catching this virus.
I am amazed that they treat the folks who deny the threat of Covid-19 and refuse to wear a mask with as much compassion as they treat the folks who wore a mask and still got sick.
What they are doing is astounding.
I don’t have adjectives to describe how I feel about the virus-deniers.
Or at least adjectives that I want to put into print.
I do sometimes wonder if the extreme dysfunction unfolding in our country is a symptom of mother nature getting serious about reducing the number of human beings who now live on (and some might say over-run and infest) planet earth…
Denying the science of how a virus spreads and multiplies — exponentially! — is a form of madness which has already killed hundreds of thousands of people here in the USA…
I see it as being very similar to denying the science of climate change.
One can deny it all one wants…
Yet the scientific processes — such as the fact that a virus can spread exponentially if unchecked and will swiftly overwhelm the staff of your local hospital — will continue to unfold whether one denies the scientific realities or not.
The fact that our earth’s atmosphere is changing due to our human (mis)use of fossil fuels since the start of the industrial era is also undeniable.
In fact I recently saw a reprint of an article from the early 20th century in which scientists described and predicted how our increasing use of fossil fuels would alter the earth’s atmosphere.
Some people have been aware of this challenge for generations!
The fact that climate change is increasing the severity of storms, increasing the frequency of forest fires, and changing the patterns of how ecosystems around the planet do (or don’t) stay in balance is undeniable.
It’s all over the news in the USA.
It’s what hundreds if not thousands of scientists have been warning about for decades.
Will we as a species continue to deny it is happening?
Will we continue to live our lives as if nothing huge and profound is changing?
Continue to drive our SUVs and pickup trucks as many miles as we (or our credit cards) can afford?
Continue to travel as much as our budgets (or credit cards) will allow?
Continue to refuse to put solar arrays on our roofs?
Continue to consume more resources than can be sustainably grown/harvested/produced here on planet earth?
Fundamental patterns and cycles here on planet earth will continue to tip out of balance regardless of what our leaders may or may not be saying.
There are scientific processes and realities at work which can’t be denied or spun or ignored until they go away.
Deep breath in.
Deep breath out.
It is indeed an extraordinary time to be alive…
I hope and trust that we will persevere.
That enough people will wake up to the realities of science.
That enough people will realize that wearing a mask and continuing to practice social distancing is in fact a very loving and respectful thing to do for one’s self, for one’s family, for one’s co-workers, for one’s neighborhood, and for all the folks who risk their lives working at one’s local hospital.
And that we can continue to dance through this period of darkness, keeping a sense of love and light and fairness and respect burning in our hearts as we cast our ballots.
Thank you to Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz for writing this song during another very challenging era in our country’s history…
Thank you to pianist Doug Hammer for making music and recording music with me for the past 20+ years AND then for fixing and mixing songs with me from his home studio via Zoom in recent months.
Thank you to all the photographers at Pixabay for these glorious images.
And thank YOU for reading and listening to another one of my blog posts!
I truly treasure our community of WordPress bloggers and readers and commenters…