Monday, December 12, 2011


I woke up this morning on my back, and my lumbar region was a little achey, so I hit the snooze button and rolled over on my side to sleep in the fetal position. It usually helps ease the aching in my back.

Nine minutes later the alarm went off again, and my first thought was, "Time to wake up and face the music."

Now, I know that phrase means that you have to face the consequences of your misdeeds, but the worst "misdeed" I have is that I forgot to turn on the Out of Office Assistant in Outlook for my day off Friday. There won't be much music to face for that.

So here's my question: Where did "face the music" come from? In what part of life, way back whenever, was there music playing while you paid the penalty for your crimes?

In movies set in the Revolutionary period, they always play snare drums as the prisoner waits his last moments while the hangman or the firing squad gets ready. But drums aren't "music." Music is music.

So what exactly is the music we face?


Malott said...

"Most authorities believe it refers to a theater's pit orchestra, which an actor must face when he faces what can be a hostile audience, but some hold it comes from the military, where a formal dismissal in disgrace would be accompanied by band music..."

The second explanation makes more sense to me, but I get the impression no one is sure.

Reminds me of the unpleasant stories behind some nursery rhymes.

SkyePuppy said...


Thanks for looking that up. I agree, the military explanation sounds right. Take it from me, a one-time asipring actress: Actors love facing the audience.