In awe of Oscar Hammerstien II

Sometimes it’s surprising what makes you emotional.

This past rainy Saturday a visiting friend I took a trip to the New York MOMA. The big attraction this weekend was the Matisse découpages, but we also stumbled into special exhibition of the work of Robert Gober, who did a lot of conceptual (sometimes jolting) statuary and installation pieces. He also had a simple piece where he framed what appeared to be a torn out page from some Sound of Music libretto which contained simply the lyrics to the song Climb Ev’ry Mountain.

For anyone who has watched the Sound of Music on stage or the (amazing) Julie Andrews movie, the Climb Ev’ry Mountain song feels like a BIG moment. It’s beautiful, it’s inspiring, and it’s a turning point in the story for Maria von Trapp.  I also feel like it’s the high point in the show that was a high point in the careers of two of America’s greatest artists.

Here’s what was startling when I saw the art piece. It’s so short and so dense. The entire lyrics of the song are about 8 lines. And some of those repeat. It’s literally shorter than this blog post, yet has had a huge impact on our culture.

This framed page made me read the lines so carefully and appreciate the craft of lyric writing so much more.  Just in case that experience can be repeated or shared to you, the reader, here’s the 8 stanzas that made me teary eyed. No copyright infringement intended.

Climb every mountain, search high and low,
Follow every highway, every path you know.

Climb every mountain, ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow, ’till you find your dream.

A dream that will need all the love you can give,
Every day of your life for as long as you live.

Climb every mountain, ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow, till you find your dream.

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