Monday, January 29, 2007

a freckle on the nose of life's complexion

I have always used music as an escape, or as a friend. I think music sneaks in where nothing else can or does - including other humans. You don't have to worry about music dumping you, rejecting you for being too 'difficult', criticising you or having too many expectations. Music is whatever you want it to be. But there is probably one type of music that I have used an escape more than any other and that is musical theatre. I know it's dorkish but I've never come across any genre of music that has as much soul, pain, happiness, excitement and storyline as the humble musical does (except maybe country). I can't think of any kind of music that embraces the "different" and "downtrodden" and "dreamers" like musical theatre does.

Any emotion ANY SITUATION, you can guarantee that there is a whole story set to music on or off broadway that will feature it. Any problem you have, anything you can leave it backstage, you can mask it, you can cover it over for 2 hours while the leading lady sings because the show must always go on. Musicals are like that - why do you think so many fucked up people take refuge in them? If you think the punk rockers with their heroin overdoses are tragic you have another thing coming - they fall apart on the front cover of New Idea while they 'live it up' with money and groupies - but a fucked up star of musical theatre really does it in true tragic style - they know how to mask their pain and just get on with things - never mind the scratching growling monster in the closet. I admire it - I can identify with it.

You can put people who love musicals into three categories

1) those who know pain and want to forget about it.
2) those who are different from the mainstream.
3) those who want to be a star.

Usually there is a crossover - but not always.

I'm a big fan of so many other kinds of music but sometimes I don't want to take refuge in those unreachable images of girls/boys who are too beautiful or who are carbon copies of each other or are so far removed from reality to truly be human. Musical girls are funny looking, usually gawky, have gone through shit and then triumph brilliantly. They are utterly human even if the situation is extraordinary.

Calamity Jane, impossible right? Nein, she was real but more importantly who the hell hasn't gone through feeling like they're just a clumsy unattractive friend when surely it was meant to be love? Sally Bowles in Cabaret - another impossibility right? Well, she's fucked up, lonely and falls for a gay boy - sounds like an everyday occurrence to me. Fraulein Maria? from The Sound of Music She was real, but again you don't have to be a nun to know what it's like to feel inadequate and nervous and be scared of love (and Nazis for that matter). Take any girl in any musical and you know the core is real. That is something I can access. What better way to forget you're in the shit when you can share the pain with someone who is going through it too?

My #1 choice of song to play today is "Maybe this Time" by Liza Minelli from Cabaret. When I first heard it I felt like someone had put me into a song. It's also beautifully sung with just the right amount of desperation from Liza (what a voice!). Of course, castpost is still on the blink so I can't upload it from my collection and I can't find it on radio blog club (very infuriating). Look it up, it's a great song. The next choice was "Don't Rain on My Parade" by Barbara Streisand from Funny Girl, for the opposite reason. Another favourite - which I couldn't access either. My third choice is "And I am Telling You, I'm not Going" by Jennifer Holliday from Dreamgirls. This was the grammy winning version from the original broadway cast performance of Dreamgirls. Talk about desperation - if this song doesn't strike any kind of chord with you I'm sorry but there must just be something wrong with you. :P

And I Am Telling you I am Not Going - Jennifer Holliday

And for something more traditionally "musical theatre" - extremely amusing, strong, sexy, catchy and glamorous.

Mein Herr - Liza Minelli (Cabaret)