ODE TO HUCKLEBERRY FINN

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of seeing the Tony-award winning musical Big River performed at the Greenville Theater. It was absolutely wonderful. I had seen it on Broadway many years ago and I never forgot how fabulous the music is.

Do you remember the late Roger Miller, composer of the pop hit King of the Road? Well, Miller wrote the music and lyrics for Big River, which is based on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, one of my all-time favorite American novels.

Among the many delights of this musical are the moments when Huck steps out of the story he is narrating, faces the audience and tells us exactly how he was feeling at the moment, just the way he does in the book.

I can remember the exact moment I fell in love with Huck Finn. It was the pivotal scene when Huck is torn about helping Jim escape. After he weighs the pros and cons, he decides he’s doing the wrong thing helping Jim, and he makes up his mind to write a letter telling Mrs. Watson where she can find her runaway slave.

But then Huck starts thinking about what a good friend Jim was to him. That’s when he decides he can’t go through with it and says, ‘All right, then I’ll go to hell’.” He made the honorable choice even though it was against the law, and he was willing to suffer eternal damnation rather than betray a friend. How could you not love Huck Finn?

In listening to Roger Miller’s King of the Road, I realized the character speaking in that song is very much akin to Huck Finn. So I share it with you here.