Marvin Hamlisch died the other day.
Now, for some folks I know -- even some long-time friends -- the fact I know that might result in an instant revocation of my man card. I mean, c'mon -- this is a guy who snuck away from his studies at Julliard to go play show tunes on the piano, and would go on to write songs and collaborate with the likes of Barbara, Liza and Linda Ronstadt. But he was also a genius prodigy, one of only two people in the world who is an EGOT with a Pulitzer, and he won two Golden Globes in addition.
Still don't believe me? Then here's a pop quiz: Name the composer who scored both The Sting and The Spy Who Loved Me, adapting Scott Joplin for the former and co-writing "Nobody Does it Better" for the latter. I now challenge you to go the rest of the day without "duh-da, duh-da, duh-da ... duh-duh-duh da duh-duh da, duh duh duh" in your head.
At any rate, I've written at length about my Mom's love of A Chorus Line, for which Hamlisch composed the score in 1975, earning a Tony and a Pulitzer (not to mention the longest-running show on Broadway until 1997, and fifth all-time) in the process. Growing up, my Saturday mornings began with John Denver, and after a breakfast of French toast and sausage, morphed into doing our chores while listening to "I Hope I Get It," "One," "At the Ballet" and of course, "What I Did for Love." I hated that music, until I was about 14 or 15, when I finally realized what Val was saying, and what Richie was talking about ... because yeah, there is no scholarship to life.
More importantly, that music infiltrated my subconscious. As cool as it was that Val was talking about T&A and Richie was swearing (gasp!), Maggie's dancing fantasy, Diana's experience in the classroom and eventually Cassie's self-definition and the company's sacrifices for the love of their craft helped shape my world view. This became clear to me, more than ever before, in the summer of 2009, and has stuck with me ever since.
You know there's no such thing as coincidence. And in a weird twist of universal Force, I had a dream on Sunday night that involved A Chorus Line, the night before Mr. Hamlisch died. And when I found out on Tuesday that he had passed, I spent the rest of the day blaring the soundtrack through my car stereo speakers, singing along until my lungs gave out.
And just like in 2009, that provided a moment of clarity for me. I'm a racer. A racer races. I'd already determined that I was going to come back stronger in 2013, but now I realize that 2012 isn't over yet. I still have more to give; it's time to throw in the chips for another hand.
Kiss today goodbye and point me toward tomorrow. There's a Monster to slay.
15 hours ago