“WHEN YOU WALK THROUGH A STORM HOLD YOUR HEAD…IN YOUR HANDS AND SAY ‘BOLLOCKS’” AS OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN SUFFERS FROM LYRICIST’S BLOCK!

Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein

February 1945; New York: It is the ‘golden age’ of musical theatre and at its very epicentre we find the pairing of composers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II finishing off the songs for their new Broadway stage production ‘Carousel’. Already Rodgers has the melodies for the show in place and exquisite they are. One song in particular, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ is destined to become a world-wide hit for artists such as Elvis Presley, Louis Armstrong, Gerry and the Pacemakers and Judy Garland. However, for lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II things are not going smoothly for he has been afflicted with ‘lyricists block’. We join the pair as Oscar is explaining to Dickie the accursed issue at hand.

“I say Dickie I’m somewhat flummoxed.”

“How so Oscar?”

“Well it’s that ballad you knocked out the tune for last evening…you know the one I came up with a swift, and blindingly touching title for namely ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. You see I’m well and truly stuck as to how to conclude that all-important first line. Unless I can overcome this issue we’ll have to call the show off I’m afraid.”

“Crikey old chum we can’t do that…I mean we’ve paid for the theatre, chosen the cast, booked the orchestra even bunged a few critics in the hope of decent reviews. What a to-do!”

“Don’t I know it Dickie I’ve been up all night and all I have thus far is, ‘When you walk through a storm hold your head…’ – that’s it, ‘…hold you head’ and for the very life of me I cannot think what should come next.”

“Yes I see your problemo Oscar. Do let me have a think, you never know…yes, got it! How about, ‘When you walk through a storm hold your head in your hands and say ‘bollocks’ because you really do wish you’d worn your Macintosh’. Bit of a corker of a line if you ask me!”

“Really? Don’t you think the use of the colloquialism ‘bollocks’ will offend the ears of our fine American ladies so addicted to Broadway shows?”

“Good point Osc, good point. Ah, I’ve come up with an alternative – my I’m on form this morning! What my friend do you think of this, ‘When you walk through a storm hold your head under an umbrella’. There, both pertinent and to the point. That, my friend must be a runner.”

“Don’t be silly Dickie…I mean umbrellas in my experience do tend to invert when challenged with the ferocity of stormy weather. No I’m afraid that one is just plain silly in my book.”

“Whilst I am inclined to say suit your fucking self I am prepared to take one more stab in an effort to help you out. Right, my creative juices are flowing a treat methinks…this one is an absolute belter, ‘When you walk through a storm hold your head to one side thereby rendering yourself able to keep an eye out for the potential for hailstones’. I mean that is sound advice through the medium of song and everyone knows that come the big storms come hailstones sometimes the size of golf balls. What do you make of that little beauty?”

“Tosh, utter tosh…simply will not do.”

“Stuff you then I’m off down the pub. If you care to join me you’re very welcome but do pull yourself together and hold that head of yours up high for we can’t have you trapesing around looking like you’ve lost a dollar and found a dime can we.”

“Hold my head up high – the cheek of it, look my friend I’m trying to write a lyric here so I would be appreciative if you just stayed schtum while we journey to the boozer.”  

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37 thoughts on ““WHEN YOU WALK THROUGH A STORM HOLD YOUR HEAD…IN YOUR HANDS AND SAY ‘BOLLOCKS’” AS OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN SUFFERS FROM LYRICIST’S BLOCK!

  1. Hold your head down low so you don’t miss the cracks in the sidewalk and trip over them and fall on the regions below.
    You didn’t build new closets before you moved in???? Oh, my goodness Mike. She actually moved with you before new closets arrived??? I do hope your clothes are stacked on the floor behind the door until new closets are built in, or even better, a new room sized closet with drawers and bins for stacking unmentionables, a space for shoes, and another place in the back for your muddy boots before you enter the house. We women have enough to do without putting up with the mud and other stuff you men drag in when you tramp around outside.

    • Good fortune smiles in that regard for Shirl paints, decorates and digs things in the garden weary boots while I am the shopper and the cook! She claims it must be wardrobes as they will look better in an old house! Most likely because she knows I can’t build anything at all without getting bored and messing it up. Basically I am useless on the practical front!

    • So basically all you are good for is writing stories? Telling tall tales over a glass of stout? I have heard it said that men are only necessary for one thing, but how often does one have to parallel park these days?

    • Agreed although when lost for ideas ‘bolloxed’ is perhaps my favourite word. If done loads of poet’s and lyricist’s block skits all written to the same template and tremendous fun to write!

      • Hee hee. My present historical heroine starts saying this word at the theatre. I as trying to think of a suitable word for her to convince the hero to stop asking her out and that one topped my list. I do love the word bolloxed too as in bolloxed it up.

  2. This borders on genius, in my humble opinion! When suffering from writer’s block, write a post on writer’s block! Who’d have thought! I love the word bollocks, but there is another word, indigenous to your fair (is it?) Country that I like even more, but you have ‘softened’ it with an ‘h’….

    • This is where my taking things literally poses me problems. So impressed am I by sentences that are once in a lifetime ones am I, I was musing upon, ‘,,,you have softened it with a ‘h’…’ thinking wow when it occurred to me I had no idea as to how an ‘h’ could soften something unless it stood for hammer which could perhaps softened something. In short confusion has taken hold once more and a pointer as to what you mean will no doubt end my dilemma of thinking what does she mean. I do have a lot of moments such as this. Just this very afternoon at the dentists he said ‘You could take it out’ and looked taken aback when I asked him if that was the case would he still expect me to pay him! The cheek of it!

      • Bwhahahaha! This does pose a problem…what is the rating on your blog? Meaning, specifically, is it a family friendly blog where no foul language is allowed and do you have sensitive readers with religious notions? Once I have those answers I could possibly put you out of this misery (by this I do not mean euthanasia, but merely an explanation of how an h can soften (what others might perceive as) foul language). I find it to be merely very descriptive. So many brackets in an effort to be specific!

      • Well young lady that might as well have been in braille! By the way I often use a ferry over to France that has braille messages fixed to the wall telling blind people where the muster points are and I always think ‘why’ most would be on a deck they couldn’t find anyway. Moving on I don’t think I have a blog rating other than perhaps ‘crap’! Splendid comment though – I like things I don’t understand. Earwigs for example!

      • I apologise profusely! It seems that I was ill-instructed by a dear friend of mine that hails from Birmingham where toss does not mean throw and tosser is not someone who throws and I therefore assumed that…well, do you really give a tosh what I assumed? 😀 I will spend some time researching the Queens English to avoid future misunderstandings of a similar nature, As you know, English is not my home language

      • Never apologize to an old fool young lady…I’m beginning to see where you’re coming from. For a good hour last evening I was trying to think of foul language beginning with ‘h’…hurt my brain doing so. Even asked the wife who whilst generally utters the words of a bard yet is capable of swearing like a navy for one starting with ‘h’ yet she also was stumped!

  3. I am going to save up enough money for a flight to visit you because I can just imagine how entertaining an afternoon of face-to-face conversation with you must be! We can discuss earwigs and their place in the ecosystem, for example

    • Whilst the earwig makes I ideal pet for a lonely, only child their place in the ecosystem is a matter of debate…I really must post some of my old Carruthers and Chum skits then you’ll see what I mean…when I remember it I’ll send you a link to the online mag I’ve done a bit of writing for namely ‘Sozsatire’ as well as The League of Mental Men! Should you ever find yourself in Hellfire Corner you are more than welcome by the way.

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