“Someone to Watch Over Me” by Gertrude Lawrence – Favourite version as above, sung by Ella Fitzgerald
A bit of history, the song is from a musical, that much I knew. I never knew what to imagine as the scene in which the song is sung, but apparently in “Oh Kay!” from 1926, a maid sings it to a rag doll. I love Ella’s version because her voice, to me, has a soft roughness to it and the range fits my ear for singing. I can imagine myself in a smoky bar in the 1920s trying to sing this without crying at the same time. I can imagine myself at home now sitting down to the piano and trying to play this song even though I don’t have that jazz instinct. It’s so simple and beautiful and… well, my favourite for a reason. Here are the lyrics and you can read them, and then I will share romantically and sentimentally and emotionally and just plain girlie – why it is my favourite song.
There’s a saying old says that love is blind
Still were often told, seek and ye shall find
So I’m going to seek a certain lad I’ve had in mind
Looking everywhere, haven’t found him yet
He’s the big affair I cannot forget
Only man I ever think of with regret
I’d like to add his initial to my monogram
Tell me, where is the shepherd for this lost lamb?
There’s a somebody I’m longing to see
I hope that he turns out to be
Someone who’ll watch over me
I’m a little lamb who’s lost in the wood
I know I could, always be good
To one who’ll watch over me
Although he may not be the man some
Girls think of as handsome
To my heart he carries the key
Won’t you tell him please to put on some speed
Follow my lead, oh, how I need
Someone to watch over me
I love the Biblical references in this song first off. The second line is from the gospels – Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” The fourth line reminds me of something from the books of wisdom – Song of Songs 3:1-2 “All night long on my bed I looked for the one my heart loves; I looked for him but did not find him. 2 I will get up now and go about the city, through its streets and squares; I will search for the one my heart loves. So I looked for him but did not find him.” Later there is a reference to a lost lamb which reminds me of Psalm 21 “The Lord is my Shepherd…”
How many times have we as women had a crush on a guy where it didn’t quite turn out how we had envisioned? Or maybe we have lost love in some way? For me I often think of the first two lines of this section as regret in terms of wanting to be loved romantically but not quite getting there.The adding of an initial to one’s monogram to me speaks of marriage. If I marry and take on a new last name, my C.E.W will change (assuming the last name doesn’t start with a “W” but you know what I mean). But then the end line takes my heart to a couple places simultaneously. I think about being protected by the Good Shepherd protecting and guiding as mentioned in Psalm 21 and I think about finding the kind of man who seeks to protect and guide me as a woman. Am I a hopeless romantic? Yes.
I soak in the longing this woman has to be with the one she loves in a deep hope that he will live up her romantic expectations. Perhaps I can relate too well. I learn how unwavering desire can be and how she does not bend on this man being the one who watches over her. What peace can be found in leaning back and knowing someone is there to rest against. Spiritually I find a deep comfort. The last set of lyrics makes me grin a little bit as she confesses her love to not be much of a looker in the eyes of others. But he has the key to her heart – I wonder what that key is… a sense of humour, intelligence, can he cook?
And of course, as a pursuer by nature (to be discussed in a future post), I can absolutely relate to her trying to beckon him to do as she does. She wants his desires to align with her desires. She needs him. She’s desperately seeking him. It’s the kind of vulnerable abandon that many of us long to explore. C.S. Lewis says in Four Loves, “To love is to be vulnerable.” To truly love, whether in a friendship, with family, or romantically, there is an element of vulnerability. We put ourselves out there in loving and experience the rippling effect for good or for ill. It is painful to love wholeheartedly.
It’s just a song, but I sing it all the time when I’m walking somewhere. It reminds me that I am being watched over and protected by a Strong Shepherd. It also gives me a glimmer of hope that I’ll find a not so handsome man someday who will follow my lead.