Home > Music > Behind my music: The stuff I listen to

Behind my music: The stuff I listen to

In the course of writing this blog, I have really bared my soul. I’ve talked about my hopes, my fears, my family, the fact that I once owned a Tesla album… Now, I’m going to let everyone in on one more skeleton in the ol’ closet. I like Broadway musicals. Ok, that looks weird in print, so I’ll modify that a bit… I often enjoy the music from many Broadway musicals.

Not all musicals, mind you, but enough that I think I should admit to it. Now, I’m well aware that in many red states, this classifies me in the same group as sissified, tree-hugging, liberal (or lib’ral, in their parlance) pansies. So be it. I honestly think there is some beautiful, evocative music coming out of Broadway.

But, if it helps me restore some of my masculinity, I don’t dig a lot of the older stuff – South Pacific, Oklahoma, etc. – where the songs are schmaltzy and lame.  I can’t stand some of the more recent but bizarre stuff – specifically Cats or that Andrew Lloyd Webber musical where people were roller-skating (what the hell was that about?). I like a few of the late 80s and early 90s musicals, with a slight hiccup until I found some from this decade that I like.

It all started on a high school trip to New York. We were dragged (kicking and screaming, as I recall) to Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera. Most of the other guys in my group either were bored out of their mind or just slept through the performance. I was transfixed… such a sound coming from the stage.

And it wasn’t the production values – the rotating stage of Les Miz or the fireworks of Phantom. It was the music. Such beautiful, emotional songs performed by the most talented people I’d ever seen in person.

Right now, I’m writing this on a flight from Boston to RDU (and unlike previous experience, Logan didn’t win this battle). I’m listening to the music from Wicked, a musical launched in 2003 that tells the backstory on the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz.

Interesting premise, really. Turns out it wasn’t the witch’s fault that she was wicked. She was born that ugly shade of green, the kids always picked on her and then, once she got older, she saw the Wizard for what he was – a complete charlatan. So, they cast her out as “wicked.”

But it’s not the story that got me hooked. The music is phenomenal. That’s how I found out about it about a year ago. Cultural barometer that I am, it had been on Broadway for a couple of years, but it wasn’t until I heard “I’m Not That Girl” on XM Radio that I realized there was more good music coming out of New York. So, I got the CD and started listening to it repeatedly. And I still haven’t gotten sick of it.

That’s the thing about a good musical. If it’s a good story – as was the case in Les Miz, Phantom, Sunset Boulevard and others I like – you can listen to the whole shebang-abang and enjoy the story. But, many of the songs are so good that you can stand on their own. It’s one of the reasons why many of the “standards” that have driven popular music for the past 60 years have come from Broadway. Guys like Cole Porter and the Gershwin brothers lent their genius to musical scores. Later, the band-leaders and crooners would remake these songs as their own.

It gets me to thinking… why doesn’t Diddy or Jay-Z or one of the other hip hop magnates out there give this a shot? Why isn’t today’s popular music looking to the musical for new sound, or at least a fresh idea? A good song is a good song, and if you allow a great young R&B singer to try a new Broadway “standard,” I guarantee you’ll like the results.

Oh well, I can dream. For now, I’m content to listen to my original cast recordings of a handful of musicals. Call me what you will. But, it’s just good stuff.

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Categories: Music
  1. Batch
    December 13, 2006 at 11:55 am

    Dood, reading your experience of being at Les Mis and Phantom in HS was like reading my own story. Did the same thing and felt the same way. I couldn’t believe people were sleeping during Les Mis. Now, I have to go find the Wicked music and see what’s it all about.

    For a good laugh, watch this… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhXsJjVdj1E

    Batch out.

  2. B-Moore
    December 15, 2006 at 6:35 am

    You’re a pansy. In fact, the only reason I’m still your friend is because despite your taste in music (and my recall of you in a chorus X-Mas concert shouting out with glee, “Gots ta get me some figgie puddin’, boy I loves me some figgie puddin’!”), you forever maintained your dignity when, at Schoolkids Records in 1994, Neil and I talked you into buying Snoop Dogg’s “Doggystyle” CD while you were high on cold medicine. It’s a classic. I think I remember Ray Charles saying that, other than going blind, his only other regret in life was not penning “Gin-N-Juice.”

    Now bring me some figgie puddin’.

  3. December 15, 2006 at 9:41 am

    bmoore, although I was high as a kite on Sudafed, Dayquil and some Dexatrim I found in the stairwell at Old East, buying “Doggystyle” was probably the best musical decisions of my life. A life-altering purchase, really. Even Shakespeare couldn’t have come up with these rhymes:

    How many hos in your mother f*cking group
    Wanna take a ride in my 7-8 Coupe
    Deville…

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