Things My Father Taught Me, from Leading Lady (Day 142)

Today’s post from Leading Lady is a song for a character who disappeared from the show after the 2012 reading. For the first few drafts of the show, Seth and I had included a character called Georgie Callahan, Mary’s brother and Michael’s son. We tried to get some dramaturgical benefit from their sibling rivalry, and initially the idea of Georgie as a ne’er-do-well who was the apple of his father’s eye seemed to have some value. This song was written for Georgie to sing at his father’s wake – the death of Michael Callahan was also part of the plot in those early drafts – and it’s meant to evoke a maudlin barroom ballad style. Tyler Houchins gives a fine effort in this recording from 2012.

I’m not really one for speeches, but let me offer a toast. Here’s a toast to my father, the best teacher a son could ask for.

Things my father taught me
When I was a lad.
No boy ever had a teacher
Like my dear old dad!
Many useful lessons
I studied at his knee.
How I’ve come to treasure
All the things that he taught me.

How to slip out the back door
When your creditors are nigh.
How to smile and tip your hat
When a colleen saunters by.
How to look like your workin’
When you’re really on a break.
How to charm your way out of
Almost any mistake.

Michael Callahan had no letters after his name, but a more learned man you’d never meet. He had a talent for mending, for patching, for making do.

Lessons that have served me well til now.
Lessons I should thank him for,
Except it’s too late now!

Things my father taught me
When I was a lad.
No boy ever had a teacher
Like my dear old dad!
Many useful lessons
I studied at his knee.
How I’ve come to treasure
All the things that he taught me.

My father had tremendous faith in tomorrow – the way he saw the world, great things were always just around the corner. Some dream or scheme of his was always just about to pay off. Georgie, he’d say, today may have been a disappointment, but tomorrow, my boy, tomorrow – just think of the miracles tomorrow may bring! What else would you call a man that brought nine children into this world but an optimist? So what if your kid is a disappointment? Roll the dice again and the next one that comes along is bound to be better! And the schemes that man had! He’d bamboozle you with his Irish charm and the next thing you know, you’d be up to your elbows in some cockamamie business designed to make us all rich.

Heaven knows the value
Of the things that he taught me.

How to stand up for the honor
Of the Fenian clan.
How to show the world that heaven smiles
Upon the Irish man.
How to be there for your family
When your family needs you near.
How to celebrate your heritage
And proclaim for all to hear:

Georgie, my boy,
You’re a Callahan!
And a Callahan can do anything
He sets his mind to do.
Just give ‘em a bit of the Irish, lad
And you’ll go far!
As long as you stay true to who you are!
As long as you stay true to who you are!

Things my father taught me
When I was a lad.
No boy ever had a teacher
Like my dear old dad!
Many useful lessons
I studied at his knee.
How I’ve come to treasure
All the things that he taught me.

(Then the band strikes up a lively instrumental version of Tinker Man and You’re A Callahan and the room erupts into dance and celebration. Drinks are poured and consumed, toasts toasted, healths drunk. Relatives embrace, argue, laugh and cry. )

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