Monday, November 23, 2009

Bring Him Home

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.

Thanks Mom.

13 comments:

Jamie said...

What lucky kid's you'll have.

Señora H-B said...

As a general rule, I hate musicals. But I could listen to the music from Les Mes over and over and over. It's just so beautiful, and the story even more so. Thanks for the reminder!

Katie Elaine said...

I was obsessed with Les Mis in junior high and high school. I had a copy of every version (the broadway, the london, the complete, and even the french concept album) and also knew every word by heart. My sister and I would sing to it while we cleaned (she was always valjean and I was javert and we faught over eponine). I had never seen the 20/20 segment, though. Thanks for sharing it!

Jayne said...

Oh Katie, it has been pretty easy to be your mother anyway, but things like this fill my heart with joy and gratitude for the whole three decades.

LE FITNESS- Pilates and Personal Training said...

Some would say that's a good thing.

Skinner Family said...

I'll never forget when my mom came home with a record and also the tape of Les Mes. Both were recordings of different shows. Later she purchased the CD set. I stole the tapes from her. I'll never forget seeing the show either. WOW! I would go see that show over and over and over again! It was amazing. I play it and my kids listen to it, but they don't get it. But we have introduced them to Rent, Hairspray, The Secret Garden, Joseph, and Wicked. They can sing every word to those. I think I need to work on Les Mes some more.

Cristin said...

I love this post, not only because I love Les Mis, but because I have the same goal with my kids. They are still so little, but I love introducing my 3 year old to things that I loved as a kid like "Mary Poppins" and museums. It is so much fun to see him get excited about stuff that I love.

Mrs. Pingel said...

Dear Katie,

I already loved you lots, but this post made me love you even more. I am a lover of musicals, and have been known to perform in a musical or two as a hobby -- it's even something I share with the husband, which is rather odd to find in the football-loving, heterosexual, married male-types.

But I digress.

I am commenting because I have a beautiful recording of my husband singing "Bring Him Home", backed up by his fellow BYU-I Vocal Union members. I think you'd love it, and I want to e-mail it to you.

Will you shoot me a facebook message with your e-mail address so I can send it to you?

Darcy

AP said...

Izzy (she just turned 8) told me that Javert's Suicide is in her top three songs of all time. Smart kid, eh?

becky said...

oh i love love love le mis

L to the I to the Z said...

I totally grew up listening to Les Mes, too!! Know every song and always tear up or at least get chills during this song. LOVE IT!

Kylie said...

Haha, this is me too. I love Les Miserables (and I used to sing my guts out to On My Own too). It really is a beautiful story.

Sharon said...

Love your blog Katie!