Thursday, April 16, 2009

I'm Rethinking My Opinon of Les Miz

A quarter of a century ago when many were raving about Les Miz, I dismissed it as West End/Reagan/Thatcher schlock that raped the imagination of Victor Hugo. I put it just a notch above Cats and Phantom but that's not saying much.

Over the past 72 hours, I've had more emails and Facebook posts about Susan Boyle singing "I Dream a Dream" from the aforementioned show since 9/11 or the Iraq invasion. I r\emember Patti Lapone singing it in the mid-1980s and thought it was a sweet tune with a sweeping melody but never gave much thought to the specifics of the lyrics. Did anyone really hear anything beyond "I dream a dream" as Ms. Boyle's soared above cheers Saturday night? Did anyone hear her saying that her life was hell as she smiled? This column really gets at the hear of it. And here are the complete lyrics to the song. I suggest following them while replaying her rendition for the 100th time since it helps me understand why she has captured the imagination of millions.

Fantime - "I Dream a Dream"
[Stage Directions: Fantine is left alone, unemployed and destitute]

There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shame

He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came

And still I dream he'll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.

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At 10:29 PM, Blogger Joe said...

I sometimes think I'm not a musical queen, but then I think about how transported I can be by songs from Evita or Sunset Boulevard or what have you (and yes, I know how trite Lloyd Webber is). But, yes, that's a good song.

So I finally got around to watching the video and reading several articles today, and I'm not sure how I feel about this whole phenomenon of Susan Boyle. Sure, it's very touching. And I think it's interesting just how BIG it's blown up. However, is the only reason for the fascination the contrast with her appearance? And if her appearance is part of the fascination, is there anything wrong with that? I'm not sure.

I do like the idea that she's become a worldwide sensation -- no matter how short-lived it ends up being -- at her age after living such an unassuming life.

At 10:33 PM, Blogger Joe said...

Also, if I think about those lyrics too deeply, I will become hopelessly morose -- so much of what I've been feeling lately is reflected in those words. Oh dear.

At 8:34 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Joe - Oh, gosh , maybe I shouldn't have posted those lyrics! I'll follow-up with some Spice Girls tune or such.

I'm still mixed about how I feel about this phenomenon as well, and why I've been sucked into it. My favorite singers and writers usually aren't much to look at. I'll try not to think too much about your "at her age" comment and ponder that I'm five years her senior or else I will get morose.

At 9:20 AM, Blogger ArtSparker said...

But, fact, Susan Boyle's seemingly unlikely dream of becoming a world-famous singer in fact came true.

The singer, not the song. Don't rethink Les's a slippery slope, you could end up an Andrew Lloyd Webber devotee...I'm just saying.

At 9:30 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Susan - I have to admit that since viewing that clip I pulled out my copy of the cast album which I've probably listened to three times since buying it in 1985. I've no plans of becoming a Lloyd Weber fan, but -- just for the record -- though of the same ilk that show was scored by Claude-Michel Schönberg.

At 12:58 PM, Blogger Joe said...

Oh come on, ALW isn't the antichrist! Oh, who cares... I'm not ashamed that I find some of his stuff to be a guilty pleasure. Don't be Weill snobs; it's unbecoming. ;-)

"At her age" wasn't meant to imply anything like "life is over by 45"... I just meant that it's unlikely for someone to launch a singing career at the age of 47, especially considering how sheltered she has been.

Believe me, I'm constantly encouraged by facts such as Annie Proulx not publishing her first book until she was 53 or something.

At 5:48 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Joe - Okay, I am a Weill and Berg snob but can enjoy some ALW and other Broadway/West End schlock with the best of them. Next time you're in town, let me treat you to a performance of "Annie" by the Antioch Community Theater.

At 7:59 PM, Blogger Joe said...

G, There's schlock and then there's SCHLOCK. I'll stick to the Dorothy Loudon version of Annie.

At 9:15 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Joe - Oh, I know. I just had to throw it out there. I did like Kathy Bates' nutso version of the same role in the TV version. So even SCHLOCK has its redeeming value.


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