Who Am I?

On finding Wendy...

When I was 12, I never wanted to grow up.  A few decades on and I'm still not in any great  hurry.  I don't have a single adult collectible to my name; car, house, husband, child, steady job.  But like Wendy Darling in Peter Pan, I have begun the growing up process - and adventures and fairies still make me curious.

In Who Am I, from Peter Pan, Bernstein captures the innocence and isolation of growing up by using the simplicity of a lullaby to explore Wendy's bedtime philosophies. In doing so, he writes a short song about the biggest question and asks the singer to convey all this curiosity within an intimate vocal line and piano score.

And therein lies the heart of the puzzle.  If the song is approached with all the heaviness and over-thinking of an adult, we lose the true direction of the song.  The melodies become laboured with legato, and the shining sincerity of Wendy's thoughts become thick like treacle. But, if the singer remembers what it is like to be 12, when you think that being 30 is really old and you can't ever imagine being that age.  And if the singer also hooks into the spontaneity of Wendy's thinking, and finds the thoughts of the song as if they are happening for the first time - then magic happens.

To find the sincerity and wonder of this song, go play.  Put the music down and start to think about life as Wendy sees it - as an awfully big adventure.  Why does she choose a lion over a tiger?  And why was the character given the birth month of July and not March - and does that make her Cancer or Leo? 

When you start to think about Wendy's choices and her questions about fate, you'll find the inner monologue that helps the song to live.  And you may even find some answers to your own big questions...  

Blog Post Image: Illustration by the talented Kathryn Bunick.  You can find out more about her work here


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