Face the Music

As my radio alarm clock blared an unmemorable tune at 5:31 this morning (I prefer waking up to odd numbers), the phrase face the music came to mind. If you wake to a radio alarm, you face the music daily. Where did this phrase come from? My research on Phrases.org.uk tells me it has three possible origins. It may have begun with the tradition of disgraced officers being “drummed out” of their regiment. A second theory asserts that actors were made to face the music when they faced the orchestra while on stage. Yet a third possibility is that it came from a time when common peasants in English churches weren’t allowed to sit in the higher status parts of the church. Apparently nobility were made to listen to the “vernacular sons of the parishioners, often with lyrics that were critical of the ways of the gentry.” Not sure I follow that last one. I’m partial to the idea of face the music coming from being drummed out of the regiment. I can just picture the drummer standing there, elegantly employing his drumsticks, while the guilty party slinks from the from battlefield, head down.

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2 thoughts on “Face the Music

  1. I tend to think that ‘Face the music’ does deal with some sort of dishonor. Your post has also made me think about ‘It ain’t over til the fat lady sings’ and ‘Dancing as fast as you can.’

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