The Friday Poem ‘Audition (The Fools Who Dream)’

It’s Oscar weekend and the Friday Poem selection comes from the soundtrack of this year’s Best Picture Nominee, ‘La La Land’. ‘Audition (The Fools Who Dream)’ is nominated for Best Original Song.

‘La La Land’ is a career story. ‘Audition’ is it’s anthem; a universal argument to pursue your dream, no matter how foolish it may seem.

In January, Elizabeth Flock interviewed composer Justin Hurwitz about “what it takes to compose an Oscar nominated song.”

“Hurwitz said he began composing “Audition,” back in 2011, after Chazelle had finished the screenplay for “La La Land.” But the musical stalled for years, as it struggled to get studio funding for a genre considered nearly extinct.

As Hurwitz composed what would become the final version of “Audition,” he thought carefully about the shape of the scene, which begins with Mia telling the casting agents about her aunt, and then transitions to a tribute to all dreamers. The second stanza of the song begins: “She smiled / Leapt, without looking / And She tumbled into the Seine!” while the third starts very differently: “Here’s to the ones / who dream / Foolish, as they may seem.”

“It switches from ‘she’ to ‘we,’ and I thought that was a brilliant and beautiful switch in the lyrics,” said Hurwitz, which he wanted reflected in the larger shape of the song.”

Audition (The Fools Who Dream)

My aunt used to live in Paris.
I remember, she used to come home and tell us these stories about being abroad and I remember she told us that she jumped into the river once, barefoot.

She smiled…

Leapt, without looking
And tumbled into the Seine
The water was freezing
She spent a month sneezing
But said she would do it again

Here’s to the ones who dream
Foolish as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that ache
Here’s to the mess we make

She captured a feeling
Sky with no ceiling
The sunset inside a frame

She lived in her liquor
And died with a flicker
I’ll always remember the flame

Here’s to the ones who dream
Foolish as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that ache
Here’s to the mess we make

She told me:
“A bit of madness is key
To give us new colors to see
Who knows where it will lead us?
And that’s why they need us”

So bring on the rebels
The ripples from pebbles
The painters, and poets, and plays

And here’s to the fools who dream
Crazy as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that break
Here’s to the mess we make

I trace it all back to then
Her, and the snow, and the Seine
Smiling through it
She said she’d do it again

Composer Justin Hurwitz, Lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Where do the remnants of your childhood dreams reside? In the back of a closet? In a pile of boxes in a storage locker? In the memory of a childhood hero? Or, is there a kernel of that imagined life germinating in your days @work?

When we get stuck in our careers it makes sense to step back and imagine our work in the eyes of a five year old. Most of us are probably not dressed in the costumes of our earliest aspirations, but taking a look back at a photo of our pre-school self might provide the starting point for redirecting our career GPS.

We spend a lot of time in our lives fulfilling the expectations of others. In school we excel to please teachers and parents, we compete to attend the ‘right’ college to impress our peers, and we contend with other candidates to land the ‘best’ job offer. The process can become an end in itself, and one day we are sitting at our desk wondering how we arrived.

Rewind. What did you want to be when you grew up? Is there an element of that wish that links to the career decision maker you are today?

Maybe the opportunity to be the prima ballerina with the New York City Ballet is no longer an option, but could your dream of the dance connect with an alternative artistic career choice?

Start with small steps. Talk to people who actually are @work in your imagined dream job. What’s the reality? Could you test your interest with an internship or volunteer experience before you abandon your current source of revenue?

When we are young our career fantasies are limitless. We haven’t encountered any opposition to our imagination. That picture of our five year old self is a ‘screen shot’ of us before brick walls. Adults didn’t take our plans too seriously and encouraged our wildest dreams.

Now, you are the adult, looking at the photo of yourself BBW (before brick walls). What has happened over time between that image and today’s selfie? Maybe it’s time for the two of you to have a conversation about what’s next.