One day when I was 11 or 12, my mom brought home some tapes she was very excited about. She had seen a segment on 20/20 about a new Broadway musical and was so struck by one of the songs they highlighted in the story that she went right out and bought the soundtrack. I was just a wee thing but I still vividly remember her putting in the tape and finding the song (hey remember tapes? the fast forwarding to get the song you wanted? that was awesome) and playing one of the most beautiful songs I had ever heard as loud as she could get our stereo to go. We had speakers left over from my dad's college rock bands days so that is kind of saying something. I used to love to stand right next to those things when the music was loud and I could feel it thumping right into my chest.
The musical was the adaptation of Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables" and the song was "Bring Him Home", Valjean's prayer to save the wounded love of his daughter's life.
If you are unfamiliar with the story, Les Miserables is basically about redemption and atonement and my mother fell madly in love with the musical. She got so good at talking about it that Relief Society groups and Book Clubs all over the valley would have her come give her presentation about it complete with selections from the play. She finally got to see it in LA a few years later and then on Broadway a few years after that. So I grew up with the story and the music as a staple in our house and it was rarely played quietly. I still know every single word to every single song. When I went to New York for high school graduation I finally got to see it on Broadway as well and it was every bit as amazing and inspiring as I expected. I was slightly outraged at my classmates who like "Phantom of the Opera" better.
So if you want to know why the Twilight phenomenon with it's creepy codependent love story and shirtless werewolves is so annoying to me, blame it on the woman who raised me. It's not that I was above teen drama and romance-I used to listen to sad little Eponine sing "On My Own" to a Marius who didn't even know she was alive and cry my guts out. But my mother loved this musical not just because the music is fantastic and the story is engaging but because there is depth and truth it and you can't watch it without feeling something real. And watching it isn't exactly homework-the play ran for 16 years on Broadway and 21 years in London. It won eight Tony awards, and grossed 1.8 billion dollars worldwide-it was a phenomenon too. It's not too much to expect that something can be obsession worthy and still maybe leave you a little bit better.
My iTunes spit out a bunch of Les Miz tonight and after I was done sobbing I managed to find the clip of that 20/20 segment on YouTube. I had actually never seen it but it shows the first time Colm Wilkinson sang "Bring HIm Home" in rehearsal and I honestly think if you can watch this and not feel anything you might want to have your soul examined.
Then here is a full version of the song from the 10th Anniversary performance.
My poor future children. I'm going to make them read Pride and Prejudice and watch Romeo and Juliet and go to museums. They are so going to hate me. Unless of course I get kids like me and then they will totally write a nice blog post 23 years later about how awesome I am for introducing them to greatness.