Saturday, January 21, 2006

When I Grow Too Old To Dream

In 1934 Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II teamed up in Hollywood to provide music for the film The Night is Young and penned a beautiful ballad waltz "When I Grow Too Old to Dream," which became a standard with a life of its own.

When I grow too old to dream
I'll have you to remember.
When I grow too old to dream
Your love will live in my heart.
So kiss me, my sweet,
And so let us part,
And when I grow too old to dream
That kiss will live in my heart.

I remember thinking when I first heard this song in the 50s that I was puzzled as to when such a time would arrive as a desperate state of the human condition. Is there really a time when we cease to dream, when the imagination dies, and we are totally resigned to some sort of emptiness and despair?

The song is about parting, and the melody is is beautifully crafted and elegantly inspired, and yet I feel that if anything, the lyrics are a testament to the power of the human does that kiss continue to "live in my heart" except as a dream-like presence, and consciousness of remembrance, for dreams are born as much of memories as they are of hope.

My father in his advancing years confided to me that inside he felt exactly as he did when he was a young man. He didn't recognize "that old man" that people were addressing as himself. His dreams and aspirations were as vibrant as ever. He never grew too old to dream and neither have I. Dreams are the stuff that have been the substance and driving force of my life. Sorry, Oscar!

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