I Used To Be A Heart Beating For Someone

“I used to be a heart beating for someone.” In case you don’t recognize this line, it’s a lyric from Elton John’s song, Philadelphia Freedom. I must have listened to this song hundreds of times since Elton wrote it in 1975 for his friend Billie Jean King, in honor of her tennis team, the Philadelphia Freedoms. But today was the first time that I really noticed this line and what it might mean.

On the surface, this is a song about the city of Philadelphia. 1975 was the year before the nation’s bicentennial. So, freedom and Philadelphia were on people’s minds, and the song fit right in. But the song is also about relationships.

I used to be a heart beating for someone
But the times have changed

It’s pretty obvious this line is about lost love.

Cause I live and breathe this Philadelphia freedom

How many times have you felt like you were free after the end of a relationship? I know that I’ve been guilty of that multiple times.

Oh Philadelphia freedom, shine on me, I love you
Shine the light, through the eyes of the ones left behind

And if you’re not convinced that the freedom that he loves is the freedom derived from walking away from bad relationships, here are some more lyrics.

If you choose to you can live your life alone
I like living easy without family ties

But the freedom is an illusion. Or freedom doesn’t imply happiness, as Elton so eloquently states later in the song.

I like living easy without family ties (living easy)
Till the whippoorwill* of freedom zapped me
Right between the eyes

Philadelphia Freedom
Songwriters: Bernie Taupin / Elton John
Philadelphia Freedom lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

______
* A whippoorwill is a North American songbird. It is known for its singing and its camouflage.

 

Advertisements

Zero Envy

zero.jpg

I still remember when Fiddler on the Roof came out as a movie in 1971. I had just turned ten years old. My parents had the album from the Broadway show, and we listened to it all the time on the record player. And I even played all the songs on the piano. Simplified version, of course. I was only ten years old.

I still have the piano book. Yes, this is the same book that I played from back in 1971, taped up and all. I sat down at the piano tonight, and I could still play all the songs. It’s like riding a bicycle,

piano.jpg

I think I also had a cassette tape of the music, which I listened to in my room on my portable tape recorder. I recorded it from the record by holding up the microphone to the speaker on the stereo that was playing the record. That’s how I recorded things in those days, either from a record or from the radio. The recording would always have background noise, like my sister or my parents talking, or the telephone ringing.

I don’t still have the tape recorder, but it looked something like this (photo courtesy of Ebay).

panasonic.jpg

Back to Fiddler, I remember when the movie came out, I was disappointed that Tevye wasn’t played by Zero Mostel. Who was this Topol? An Israeli actor? I felt like I was missing out, since I was too young to have seen the live broadway show with Zero.

After seeing the movie, I thought Topol did a fine job. But all these years, I’ve always wondered what it would have been like to see the real Tevye.

Tonight, I had this crazy idea that maybe there was a video of Zero Mostel playing Tevye, and maybe it was on YouTube. So I looked, and voila, look what I found! Yes, a video of Zero Mostel performing If I Were a Rich Man on the broadcast of the 1965 Tony Awards. Enjoy!