January 01, 2007

If I Were A Rich Man

From Fiddler on the Roof & sung by Chaim Topol.
Here's Topol performing If I Were A Rich Man. & here are the lyrics.

Gwen Stefani did a variation on the song called simply "Rich Girl". Purists may criticize her liberties with the song but for what it is it's not bad & it does point younger listeners to Topol's version much like A Fifth Of Beethoven got some kids to explore classical music. Besides, in the video she dresses like a pirate (I'm not the only one who's a sucker for that am I?). Watching her dance all dolled up like a buccaneer always makes me feel like a scallywag so it could be that I'm just biased (or I need to leave the house more often). In any case here's Gwen Stefani's variation. & to appease the Mighty & Grumpy du Toit here's Gwen's tune set to a Marilyn Monroe vid. & here are the lyrics.

Aside from Topol's performance & Stefani's - well everything - I always dug the two tunes for a similar reason. Topol sings of being wealthy not for its own sake but because it alone in his mind would allow him to pursue an education focused on his God. Stefani sings that a person's love is worth more to her than wealth. They both compare material wealth to something ethereal & find the material wealth lacking.

The Bible & Tanakh respectively tells of King Solomon being granted a wish from God when he's a very young man. He asks for wisdom to rule his people justly & God is very happy with his request. God says that since Solomon didn't ask for wealth or glory or fame but instead asked something that was ultimately for the benefit of His people that He'd give Solomon all of those things in addition to granting his request.

It's the search for knowledge that drives many of us. I doubt you'd be reading this if you didn't wish to learn something. We read books & blogs, search web pages on the internet, discuss things in forums & pubs & other places, take classes at schools, ask questions of our elders & ponder the information we gather to reach conclusions. & we seem to value the search for knowledge more than wealth. How many of you have either went in debt to further your own education or that of your children?

Encyclopedias, lexicons & various other reference books line our shelves. We have bookmarked their online equivalents - Google & various search engines, Wikipedia, Merriam-Webster.com, etc... For recent events we all have our news sources & blogs to keep us current. We travel when we can to see things for ourselves & we communicate with those in distant places in part to learn about those places.

An unintended benefit that I think most bloggers will admit to is that in writing posts, especially the longer linked filled essays, we learn a great deal. Some posts I've spent hours not writing, but looking up & cross checking references & citations & other bits of information that sometimes have nothing to do with the post we started out to write.

I tend to focus on firearms & the politics surrounding them. The politics are fluid in that new things happen almost daily & rarely are politics based on facts (realities perhaps but not necessarily fats). Firearms though are concrete & while new innovations come up from time to time the basics have been consistent for a great many year. But still I learn new things about firearms through writing about them.

Some folks will complain that blogging is detrimental (or just mental) because a blogger will spend hours on a post but not see any material gain from it. But I've always seen it as a gainful endeavor. I'm not paid & I don't think I've received a dime from my writing on this site (though a few gifts which have meant a great deal to me) but the knowledge I've gained is worth more than an hourly compensation would have netted me. I'm sure there are other bloggers who feel the same way.

So I submit to you that knowledge is worth more than material wealth not just in song & scripture but in reality.

Course as Topol mentions, "…it's no great shame to be poor; but it's no great honor either". The Anarchangel has a post up about the movie called The Pursuit Of Happyness. In it he says, "Let me tell you, as someone who's been rich, and someone who's been poor and homeless; being rich is better." Oddly enough a very good friend mentioned that movie the other day & I'll talk more about that in another post. In this one I wanted to highlight that knowledge is precious & often costly but worth it. But I'm splitting this up into two posts as I'm not quite ready to tell the story of my friend & get into the heart of the matter - which involves poverty & socialism & California & a few other things that should be ranted about.

Posted by Publicola at January 1, 2007 12:32 AM | TrackBack

A couple things which nudged me into more interest in classical music were the intros used by Yes and Styx.

Yes used the closing movement of Stravinsky's Firebird Suite as an intro before Siberian Khatru.

Styx put Bach's Little Fugue in Gmin on side 2 of Styx II, before "Father".

Sure, back in grade school, we had the whole Peter and the Wolf thing, but Mrs. Moltman, despite being a sweet young thang, wasn't as influential as Rick Wakeman (who quoted Grieg, among others).

Posted by: jed at January 1, 2007 10:06 PM

For me it was school. I played violin for about 4 years & when I moved on to college classical was the basis for the theory that was being taught. But you throw in the prog rock stuff I was listening to like Triumph (Rick Emmet usually included a classical guitar piece on each album) , the metal (like Ozzie & Yngwie & later on Tesla to name but a very few) & I'd have gotten pulled into it one way or the other.

Show tunes though - first dance band I was in was run by a damn near genius. He condensed Jesus Christ; Superstar into a 45 minute set & had a tendency to use non-top 40 segues from one tune into another in our dance sets. So he pointed me towards the theater based music. I'm still not a greta fan of musicals but some I do dig.

But I can see some kids hearing "If I were a rich man" & recognizing it & maybe giving it a chance because they heard the Stefani tune. Or at least saw the vid. :)

Posted by: Publicola at January 2, 2007 06:35 AM

Well, show tunes are a real mixed bag. There's such a range, from Gershwin, to Rogers and Hammerstein, to Bernstein, to Weber, etc., you can find some real gems, as well as real stinkers. It doesn't help that there are a lot of really lame performances of them, especially the older ones.

Posted by: jed at January 2, 2007 07:38 PM