Well, first of all, let’s not kid ourselves. The Reykjavik Symphony can play. These guys have some serious game. In this particular case, their talents were tragically misapplied to an atonal nightmare of pretention, but after intermission…
They played a piece by a new composer. First, I wasn’t hearing it. I had 19 different things on my mind, but then I did, and C.J., it was magnificent. It was genius. He built these themes, and at the beginning, it was just an intellectual exercise, which is fun enough, I guess, but then in the fourth movement, he just let it go. I really didn’t think I could be surprised by music anymore. I thought about all the times this guy must’ve heard that his music was no good… I’ve got to write this guy a letter.
This is a scene I think of often when a song really gets me.
Sometimes you hear the music, sometimes you understand the lyrics.
With the recent Tony awards, I was introduced to Hadestown.
Now, I was very late to Hamilton.
Like years late.
It wasn’t that I thought it was overhyped or anything, I just never gave it much thought. The first time I started listening to the cast recording I was distracted and just didn’t get it. I turned it off after the first 3 or four songs.
A while later, I listened to the entire thing. Really listened and Oh.My.God.
I got it. I understood.
I am often floored by just how amazing a person can be. That artist over there. That writer. That creator.
With Hadestown, I was ready to give it a chance from the get go.
And, my word, did it deliver.
This is not news. It was nominated for 14 Tony Awards and won 8 of them.
The show is a folk opera telling the story of Orpheus and Euridices set in the Depression-era rust belt. It comes across as a radio story from the pre-TV age and so many of the songs are clearly designed for dancing and choreography.
I listen to these songs and think,
“I need to see how this scene is played out!”
All I’ve Known – this will be a wedding song. How can it not with lyrics like:
“All I’ve ever known is how to hold my own,
But now I wanna hold you
Now I wanna hold you
Hold you close
I don’t ever wanna have to let you go”
Why We Build the Wall – This is one of those songs that is made up of unbelievable poetry and imagery.
“What do we have that they should want?
We have a wall to work upon!
We have work and they have none
And our work is never done
My children, my children
And the war is never won
The enemy is poverty
And the wall keeps out the enemy
And we build the wall to keep us free
That’s why we build the wall
We build the wall to keep us free”
With this entire story set in Depression-era Rust Belt, the imagery and emotion within these words are just ….
“Heavy and hard is the heart of the king
King of iron, king of steel
The heart of the king loves everything
Like the hammer loves the nail.
But the heart of a man is a simple one
Small and soft, flesh and blood
And all that it loves is a woman
A woman is all that it loves.”
This is the third instance of this particular melody and the way Mitchell uses all three iterations to explain the entire story of change from a individual madly in love, across the years through trials, into a hard-hearted being terrified of loosing what they love.
I. Love. This. Song.
So, clearly, I need to plan a trip to NYC to see this show….