Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, & Cats, the Musical

I loved the Play "Cats". It tells a story based on the poems from T.S. Eliot’s book- “Old Possum’s, Book of Practical Cats. My very favorite part of the play was the beginning of the second act. As it started out it said- “We had the Experience but missed the meaning”. We don't want our lives to be like that, we want to find the meaning of our experiences.

The story is of a tribe of cats called the "Jellicles" and the night they make "the Jellicle choice", which was to decide which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life. 

Andrew Loyld Webber produced the play. Late in the production, and probably not part of the original plan, the director, Trevor Nunn, wrote the song Memory.  He based it on T.S Eliot’s poems, “Preludes” and “Rhapsody on a Windy Night”. The song, "Memory",  proved to be the most popular song from the play. It was sung by the cat character Grizabella who was once a glamour cat but had become only a shell of her former self. The song is a remembrance of her glorious past and of her wish to start a new life. It is presented in the first act, but then again near the beginning of the 2nd Act.  The song results in Old Deuteronomy choosing Grizabella to be able to go back and have another life.

Music has a way of taking us back to a time and a place. Memories are found by the music, as it seems to activate the brain. This happens in the medial prefrontal cortex region of the brain, which is one of the last to be changed with Alzheimer’s disease. That may help to explain why music can elicit such strong responses from people with Alzheimer's disease.

Many songs will bring back specific memories for us.  Musicals often introduce songs, that are so powerful years later they easily bring back the first time you heard them. Examples of musicals that do this well are: Les Miserable, Phantom of the Opera, and Cats.  


Barbra Streisand recorded “Memory” in 1981.  Her presentation was awesome. It seems like it was made just for her to sing. The song took Grizabella and those that heard it back to a time and place and those memories expressed earned her another life. 

In 2009 when Scottish singer Susan Boyle performed this song, at her audition for the third series of the British reality TV show Britain's Got Talent, her career sky rocketed.  She seemed in many ways to be the character Fantine.

The Song

Midnight, not a sound from the pavement, Has the moon lost her memory, She is smiling alone In the lamplight, The withered leaves collect at my feet. And the wind begins to moan

Memory, all alone in the moonlight, I can dream of the old days, Life was beautiful then, I remember the time I knew what happiness was, Let the memory live again

Every street lamp seems to beat, A fatalistic warning, someone mutters and the street lamp sputters, and soon it will be morning

Daylight, I must wait for the sunrise, I must think of a new life, And I mustn't give in, When the dawn comes, tonight will be a memory, too, and a new day will begin.


Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, & Cats, 

Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe


It has been at least 20 years since I first read “Things Fall Apart” and discovered it's author, Chinua Archebe. The book must have resonated with others because today it is the most translated African work of all time. It has been translated into 50 languages and has sold over 8 million copies.

In “Things Fall Apart” the main character was Okonkwo from a village in Nigeria. He was a warrior, father, and husband. A single minded hard man. 

In the beginning of the book the Africans appeared uncivilized. As the book proceeded we understand that they were indeed a African tribe with strong traditions and values.

The dignity and humanity of their lives just falls away with the influence of the white missionaries and intruders, whose teachings are foreign to the tribe and of which resistance is impossible. The Christian salvation just doesn't resonate. 

Okonkwo can't change himself, and seems to be alone in his understanding of what is happening, and he commits suicide. The culture is lost and a civilization is lost


“The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”

 “There is no story that is not true, [...] The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others.”