and the band played on

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Most of my dreams are about logistics—nightmares, in most ways, but of the most banal sort. Logistical nightmares, but not what most people mean when they use that phrase. Examples: I’m trying to catch a plane. I’m late and trying to get in touch to say so but can’t. I fear my alarm won’t go off which will make me late (this one actually wakes me up, acting as an alarm clock but not at the right time). And so forth.

But last night in my dreams, a song floated into my head, one my dad sang to us at bedtime.

“Casey would waltz with a strawberry blonde and the band played on…”

There was another song, “When Frances Dances with Me,” along the same lines: also Irish, also old-timey, also sentimental, also about dancing.

“He’d glide cross the floor with the girl he adored and the band played on…”

I suppose this was taught to him by his father, my grandfather, one Joseph Francis Lilly. There are so very many stories about the man—stout, of Irish descent, twice-married— that one doesn’t know what to believe. My mother has this one thing to say about her ex-father-in-law: “He was such a liar.”

“His brain was so loaded, it nearly exploded, the poor girl would shake with alarm!”

Funny: the string of comments under the YouTube clip are sentimental too. From Susan Copenhaver: “When I was a little girl—with strawberry curls—my Dad used to sing this and dance around the room with me. A rare good memory from my childhood.” From Aattura: “Ice Cream truck in the Bronx would play this with its bells—it was SO BEAUTIFUL!! You could hear it for BLOCKS!!!”

“He married the girl with the strawberry curls and the band played on.”

A final story about Grandpa Lilly. He died on the dance floor at someone’s wedding, his heart (not his brain) exploding, you could say.

Is this true, I wonder?

And if it is, did the band play on?








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