Today, I want to take a trip back in time to offer some new thoughts an old movie from 1962, The Music Man. This is the film adaptation based on Meredith Willson’s Broadway play from the 1950s. Upon a recent re-viewing, I was surprised to find some deeper metaphysical meanings in the story. Will get to that momentarily….
When I was a kid in grade school, my parents spent many a night turning out the lights, lighting a few candles and listening to records on their console stereo. My mother was a record aficionado, making frequent treks to her favorite record store where they knew her by name. Over time she brought home quite an eclectic set of music to play. One of my favorites was an early LP by Bob Dylan (a demo version no less!) that she talked her record store friend into selling her!
Sitting on the floor listening to music at night was a joy for me as well. I became acquainted with big bands from the 30s and 40s, the likes of Frank Sinatra and other crooners, the sing-alongs of Mitch Miller, country and western, blues and more. So many of these tunes are imbedded in the recesses of my memory, waiting to pop out at the right moment.
One of the staples of her collection were recordings of musicals, Broadway and film. Annie Get Your Gun, South Pacific, Oklahoma! and so many others. One of my favorites in this genre was The Music Man.
Through the years, I have been able to pester my wife, Mary, by breaking into tunes from the movie when the present moment presented some strange connection….frequent visitors have been especially “76 Trombones”, “Marian the Librarian” and “The Wells Fargo Wagon”. Yes, it’s a true gift and I can be strange. No argument. By the way, ask me to sing any tune in the style of Bob Dylan and I can do that too….
OK, I’m getting back to the movie, but one further digression….A few years ago, I cut the cord (got rid of cable TV) and went to getting my local TV stations over a rooftop antenna. (Here’s an article about my process at that time.) Just recently, I upgraded my set up for recording OTA (“over the air” as all cord cutters know!) TV. I purchased a device called a Tablo which allows you to check 2 weeks out of TV program guides and very easily record any show that interests you. (By the way, I HIGHLY recommend the Tablo for you cord cutters! Its’ way cool.) It was playing with this device and saw that that one channel was running The Music Man, so I recorded it.
There it sat in my recordings until the other night. Mary was sitting next to me working and asked me to put on something that wouldn’t distract her from her computer. I figured she’d have no interest in this old musical, so I started playing it. She didn’t get a lot of work done.
Quick Story Summary
The next day we started talking about the movie and the surprising number of metaphysical concepts that were in it. But before I get to those ideas below, first here’s a quick summary of the story….
It’s early in the 1900s. Professor Harold Hill is a disreputable traveling salesman who goes around convincing small towns to buy the instruments and uniforms for a boys marching band. He also generally seduces the local music teacher to get her support. He assures them he will assist in setting up the band but after the band equipment arrives and he collects his money, he always skips town on the next train.
He arrives in River City, Iowa, to repeat the process. Although the local librarian/music teacher named Marion immediately catches on to his scam, she decides not to turn him in. What changes her mind? She sees how Harold’s interactions with the town have allowed her neighbors to be re-engaged with life in a level that did not exist before his arrival. She also sees her younger brother finally opening back up to life again after shutting down when their father died a few years previously. She considers that tolerating Hill’s scam is a small price to pay for the joy that he has brought to her brother and the townspeople. Hill’s pursuit of her has also opened her heart to feeling love again.
Meanwhile, Hill continues his pursuit of seducing Marion. As she finally appears to succumb to his charms, she lets him know that she has known about his deceitful plans all along but didn’t care and why that is the case. This surprises him and causes him to realize that to a degree she has used him. She has gone along with and protected him from being caught for the good of her town and her brother. This act opens his heart and he realizes that he is in love with Marion.
Ultimately, the town finds out about the ruse, captures Hill and is about to run him out of town. At the last moment, the boys band comes in dressed in their band uniforms and carrying their instruments. Even though we have never seen them play them, Hill is able to lead them in a barely passable version of a song that he has been encouraging them to play in their minds. The town is impressed and lets him go….but he stays in River City to be with Marion and presumably to teach band.
Metaphysical Concept: “The Think System”
Hill doesn’t know how to read or teach music. However, he has come up with the idea that if the band can play a tune in their mind, they will be able to play it on the instruments. His practice with the boys consists of their humming a song and continuously seeing themselves playing it. We see it as part of his scam as he continues to promote the importance of the method to the townspeople. It is his way of covering up he doesn’t know music.
Marion’s mother wants her daughter to be interested in Hill and give him a chance. When Marion finally agrees to go out with him, the mother confesses that she has been using “the think system” (that Hill told her about) to get Marion to say “yes”.
As Hill begins to realize his feelings for Marion, he confesses the truth to her about how he has pulled this charade on other towns and other music teachers. Marion asks if he came up with the “think system” as she sees merit in it. He says yes, but adds that a music teacher in another town actually taught him some things about the system which he has incorporated into it.
Through all of this we begin to see that this system is more than part of a scam. This conclusion is further emphasized when the band is able to play the song they have been visualizing at the end of the movie.
Obviously this “think system” correlates to the metaphysical concepts of affirmations and visualizations. Create first something in your mind, then it will appear in physical form. These are key concepts taught by many spiritual teachers as ways to manifest what it is they want in their lives. It is the essence of the Law of Attraction and “the Secret”. Here are some links to a couple of videos that I have done on these subjects: How to Use Affirmations and Visualizations — The Law of Attraction Made Simple
The Music Man, like many of us when we first hear about these ideas of using the power of our minds to create what we want, tends to see the suggestion as a scam or a joke. However, we, like the movie, tend to begin to see the benefit of such techniques really being useful in manifesting what we want the more we stay with the idea and actually try it out.
Metaphysical Concept: “Seeing the Greater Good”
Marion researches Harold’s story and gathers evidence on him that he is a fake. She is about to turn him in as a flim-flam artist when she begins to realize that in spite of his obviously flaws, he is actually doing good for the town and her brother. She holds back the evidence to allow him to continue his efforts.
Marion knows that the town’s loss of money to this salesman is a small price to pay for the life and passion that Hill has brought to the townspeople and her young brother. Their excitement over the band, their interest in music, the way that Hill has gotten many town members excited about ability or talent he sees in them (even if he is simply trying to play to their vanity to sell the band stuff) has awakened them to a passion that didn’t exist in the town previously. Marion even sees that his efforts to seduce her have allowed her to melt her heart and feel love….something that she had not felt in years.
Marion realizes what we are learning each day. We have a choice in how to see our lives. We can label things good….or bad. Whatever we focus upon is what we see more of. Instead of seeing the bad in Hill, she begins to see the good that he is doing….and with that shift, she shifts as well. She begins to care for him.
This can be a lesson for us in our lives today. Every person, every situation, everything can be seen in as good or bad, helpful or harmful. Each moment we have a choice in how to see our lives. What we choose to see then tends to give us more of that. Hence, our reminder is to see the greater good as much as we can! Here’s a video that can assist in this: 3 Easy Tips to Bring More Good into Your Life
Metaphysical Concept: “The Healing Power of Love”
Isn’t everything ultimately a love story at some level? Sure seems that way.
In The Music Man, we have a “wounded” main character in the person of Professor Harold Hill. His life is one of staying on the move from town to town, pulling one deception after another, avoiding any kind of real intimacy where he shows his true self. He has tricked himself into believing that he can sell anything to anyone and getting away with it and that this ability gives him some kind of self worth. But we see that he has covered up his true self and his deep seated needs with this egotistical story he tells himself. He may feel success in his ability to pull another scam, but at the end of the day he ends up running from another town….and himself.
What ultimately causes the “breakdown” for Hill that allows him to have his “breakthrough” and grow beyond this limiting story? Love….The fact that Marion knows he is a fake but loves him anyway. She is offering unconditional love. He doesn’t need to change, he is lovable just the way he is…..even as he is about to complete his scam and run again. He is so taken by this type of love that it shakes him to his core. He allows himself to finally let his guard down and to be honest to her and her brother about who he has been. And…he allows the town to capture him. He is tired of running. He realizes that he wants love just as much as Marion does.
All of us are born into this life whole, perfect and complete. We forget that Truth as we move through material life. We all get wounded in some way and deal with those wounds generally by covering them up with other things in life. Eventually the pain of the wounding gets great enough for us that we generally (but not always) do something about it. We are pushed by the pain to grow and evolve….to heal whatever it is that we have believed about ourselves that has kept us from knowing our wholeness.
Although the pain can push us, it is love that most often heals us.
That healing love can be a love for ourselves that allows us to no longer live in our limitations. This is the love that Marion had that allowed her to be open to Harold. She loved herself enough to know it was better to fall for a flawed man about to leave town than to allow her heart to remain frozen to any sense of love.
That healing love can also be a love for another that allows us breakdown our old stories and create a new self that is no longer shut off to life. Harold, like many of us, had covered up his wounds and convinced himself they did not exist. It took the power of love for another to allow him to shed his blinders to what he had refused to see about his life, allowing him to let go of his old story and create a newer and greater one. (By the way, here’s a video on the topic of What is Love?)
It was fun to view this old movie and sing along with the old songs. However, it was even more fun to see that this entertaining movie from over 50 years ago held deep messages that can be used today.
Is there some way that you can make a shift to use the “think system” of affirmations and visualizations to create a greater life? How in your life are you called to see the greater good and experience more of it? What is it in you that is being called to be healed by the power of love?
Each of us are spiritual beings on this human journey, learning and growing and doing the best that we can. Perhaps, there is “music” is us that we are called to express? May this movie….and these words be a reminder!