With Christmas and the new year in sight, the calendar fills with parties and music. It’s a time when we clumsy curmudgeons find ourselves reluctantly pulled onto the dance floor, at great risk of foot injury to the unsuspecting victim.
Waltzes are beautiful dances — to watch, I hastily add. The best-known waltzes don’t have lyrics. Despite the title, there’s not a word in Strauss’ “Tales from the Vienna Woods Waltz,” unless you count the simulated bird songs as tales.
Waltzes are intimate despite the “see light between the dancers” approach to dancing that high schools used to enforce at proms, back when brontosaurs used to tap us on the shoulders to ask, “May I cut in?”
Some waltzes have romantic lyrics with a dark twist. In “The Tennessee Waltz” a woman is dancin’ with her darlin’ and in-between droppin’ her g’s introduces an old friend to said darlin’, who drops the singer like a pile of burnin’ charcoal and takes off with the so-called friend. Why is this song allowed to be played at wedding receptions?
If ironic lyrics are OK in waltzes we need to accept nearly all country songs in three-quarter time (a “3/4” time signature: “1-2-3, 1-2-3 ...”) as waltzes. Emmylou Harris did this explicitly in “The Last Cheater’s Waltz”:
And oooooooohh – don’t they play lonely
Oooooooohh – don’t they play sad
Oooooooohh three-quarter only
See how he holds her
As the band plays The Last Cheater’s Waltz
There are plenty of unexpected country waltzes. I hope someone will make a playlist of them and play it at an upscale dance party. Some samples:
* “El Paso” by Marty Robbins
* Willie Nelson’s “Momma, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys”
* “The Streets of Laredo”
* Linda Ronstadt’s “Love Has No Pride”
* “Here’s a Quarter, Call Someone Who Cares” by Travis Tritt.
While we’re at it, let’s add to our mix other songs in 3/4 time and picture the elegant dancers stepping 1-2-3 to them:
* “I Got You Babe”
* “Send in the Clowns”
* “(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman”
* “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”
* “The Rainbow Connection” from the Muppets Movie
* “House of the Rising Sun”
* “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story
* “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” from “Oklahoma!”
* “Silent Night”
* The Beatles’ “She’s Leaving Home”
* Elvis’ “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”
* “What the World Needs Now is Love”
* “My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music”
* Simon and Garfunkel’s “America”
* And, for the finale, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Hard enough to sing, let alone dance to.
Maybe this idea will go viral and Unexpected Waltz Parties will become the newest craze. A short-lived one, I hope.
Louie@hmbreview.com doesn’t literally have two left feet, but might as well.