Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Look at that; that little house, nestled in the city. The Executive Mansion; the White House.

I don't know about you, but I'm sentimental about houses, from the house I was raised in all those years ago, and far away from here, right up to now and our happy and pleasant Villa Muscato.

This, though, might be the house I'm most sentimental about, which has made the last eight years all the more trying. I like to think that I can respect and admire its inhabitants, and that's not always easy.

I'm not alone, of course; the White House is hardly short of admirers, either for itself or for its symbolic role in American life. The most beautiful thing I know about the White House, about the White House as metaphor, is a song. It's from a highly (and mostly, it must be said, deservedly) unsuccessful Broadway musical called 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. If that show proved anything, it's that talent on its own is only a small part of artistic success, for it boasted as its creators Alan Jay Lerner and Leonard Bernstein, and Patricia Routledge as its star.

Early in the show, the First Lady (Abigail Adams at that point; Miss Routledge) sings this song, "Take Care of this House". This is the lyric:

Here in this shell of a house,
This house that is struggling to be,
Filling the hall,
Coming straight through the wall
Is hope staring down at me.
But there's nothing there you can see,
Sadness will flow down a cheek,
Courage stand out like a tree--Joy. . .
Joy is as bright as a comet in flight,
But hope isn't easy to see.

Take care of this house.
Keep it from harm.
If bandits break in
Sound the alarm.

Care for this house.
Shine it by hand,
And keep it so clean
The glow can be seen
All over the land.

Be careful at night;
Check all the doors.
If someone makes off with the dream,
The dream will be yours.

Take care of this house.
Be always on call,
For this house is the hope of us all.

Be careful at night;
Check all the doors.
If someone makes off with the dream,
The dream will be yours.

Take care of this house;
Be always on call.
Care for this house;

It's the hope of us all.

My old friend YouTube has let me down, and there's no wonderful diva version, apparently, to be found. Even so, it's a lovely, lovely song, and I recommend you listen to this version, from, believe it or not, the Chancel Choir of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley.

And let's hope.

Herewith, by the bye, we retire a blog tag that's been in use here at the Café in recent months; from here on out, he's no longer Our Future President. The future, it could be said, is here.


  1. I'm so happy that I wasn't the only person today thinking about Broadway shows featuring the White House.

    The song was sung by Frederica von Stade at Carter's inauguration.

    It's been recorded by Judy Kaye, Marilyn Horne, Roberta Alexander, Joanna Gleason and Queen Julie Andrews.

  2. I was hoping to find Flicka's version online, with video; in its absence, I suppose the choir gives a general idea...