Monday, January 14, 2008

Music Memory Monday #7

There is so much to write about! I love all the comments from my last post about Independence - plus I had a new experience this weekend that I need to evaluate and then share. Yet I am at home potty training (Walker, not me) and feeling the need for something fun and not as serious. Plus it's Monday and time for Music Memory Monday!

So on Saturday I got to spend three hours sorting, cleaning, and organizing the boys' room. It was heaven by itself (given my affinity for organizing AND the fact I got a label maker from the boys for Christmas!!). My joy was added to by the fact that I donated two bags of clothes and a bag of toys. For me there is a direct relationship between stuff and junk in my real world and stuff and junk in my soul. Dropping those bags off to the Goodwill was almost like a good therapy session.

On top of the absolute fun I had with the activity itself I was ecstatic to plug in my iPod to my portable player and crank up whatever I wanted to listen to. I spent the first 1 1/2 hours listening to an episode of Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me and the end of an episode of This American Life. While these are not music and therefore don't qualify for my Music Memory I have to put a plug in for both of them. I know I'm an NPR addict but these are real treasures. Wait, Wait is a game show with a pop-quiz style format featuring stories from the news. They have a panel as well as guest players. This American Life is indescribable. Well ok, they way they describe themselves is: "There's a theme to each episode, and a variety of stories on that theme. It's mostly true stories of everyday people, though not always. There's lots more to the show, but, like we said, it's sort of hard to describe." I can only say you have to listen to it. They suggest going to their favorites and downloading one or two for a listen. From their chosen favorites I highly suggest 'Act V', '24 Hours at the Golden Apple', and 'My Experimental Phase'. We use these as our road trip listens rather than books on tape now. There has only been one that I don't like - and I've easily listened to one hundred of them.

Ok - ok. I am rambling. But the above is useful information so I'll consider myself thanked by you.

The real listening treat on Saturday came when I decided to veer away from the spoken word and crank on some music. My iPod is in need of music face-lift so I spent some time just tooling from playlist to playlist. When I finally landed on one I listened to the playlist three times. But before I share it with you I need to take you back in time.

In 2002 I had the chance for work to travel to Idaho on a marketing expedition. We were growing our business there and I needed to network. Eric took some time off and travelled with me. We were spending two nights in Boise - one night full of interviews, hiring and training new teachers. The other night, on a fluke, I bought tickets at Boise State University for the Broadway tour of Rent. I had never heard of this musical, nor had Eric, but we were up for an adventure.

It was a life-changing, mind-blowing experience. We walked out with Eric claiming that he had found a new all-time favorite musical. Seriously - Rent beats Les Miz, Phantom, Wicked - all of them for Eric. (technically Rent is a Rock Opera) Honestly I was still in a little bit of shock. That night remains such a vivid memory for me. Trying to digest the emotion of the music, the political musings, and the societal messages. Hard to believe we had this experience in good ole' Boise.

Rent is often known (to those who haven't seen it) as the musical where everyone is gay and has AIDS. In fact there was a Team America: World Police had a whole scene devoted to it. Most people don't know that Rent is actually based off of Puccini's 'La Boheme'.

Rent isn't for the faint of heart. Yes there are gay people. Yes there is a drag queen. Yes they use the 'F' word a lot -especially in the musical. If you can have an open mind, it will blow your mind. You'll think differently about love, AIDS, gay, straight - all of it.

Here's a brief description of the characters. For more information on the plot line, characters, and more go here.

Mark - a filmmaker and the 'narrator' of the story. Dated Maureen. He is roommates and best friends with Roger. (Originally played by Anthony Rapp who reprises the role in the movie)

Roger - a musician. He got AIDS from his former fiancee who killed herself after getting the news. Since then he's depressed, unable to write, and just waiting to die (even though he's healthy and young).
(Originally played by Adam Pascal who reprises the role in the movie)

Mimi - a young 'exotic' dancer with HIV. Has her eyes set on Roger. She has a drug problem which provides a problem for she and Roger. (Played by Rosario Dawson in the movie)

Maureen - Mark's ex girlfriend who is now with Joanne...or at least for most of the musical. Maureen is a performance artist with a flair for drama. (Originally played by Idina Menzel -yes, the original Elphaba - who reprises the role in the movie)

Joanne - Maureen's girlfriend and a newcomer to the group. She's a lawyer and her lines in 'Take Me or Leave Me' are classics! (Played by in the movie Tracis Thoms)

Collins - Falls in love with Angel who saves him from a fight. Collins is a philosophy professor and anarchist. Collins also has AIDS. (Originally played by Jesse L. Martin who reprises the role in the movie)

Angel - the muse of the musical Angel is a talented percussionist who usually plays on the street. She is a cross-dresser who has AIDS. (Originally played by Wilson Jermaine Heredia who reprises the role in the movie)

Benny - a former member of the group who married well and has new ideas of how to make the world a better place. In the opening scene of Rent the characters are singing about not paying rent after receiving an eviction notice from Benny. Benny and Mimi dated once. (Originally played by Taye Diggs who reprises the role in the movie)

Hollywood finally made a movie - which is fantastic. It features many of the original Broadway cast members (see above). Still the live version is so much grittier. Here are some scenes from the movie. It was PG-13 but I've put warnings with each clip.

Seasons of Love:
This is the most well-known song from Rent. This scene is from the movie opening.

The Tango Maureen:
Mark, who used to date Maureen, shows up to help her set up for a performance only to find her new lover, Joanna, instead. They find out their bond through Maureen is a little too similar. Great song for anyone who has felt absolutely crazy in love. (the 'f' word is abundant in this one so watch when the kids aren't around)

Out Tonight (the first part of the video):
Raunchy and dark - and totally addicting! Mimi, a stripper, is trying to catch eye. As she leaves the club she works at she sings about wanting to go out. He's a recovering addict who lost his fiancee to drugs and isn't sure he wants to go back the down that path. (she is a stripper so her dancing leaves little for the imagination though her clothes stay on)

I'll Cover You:
Angel and Collins (yes he's the Jesse Martin from Law & Order!) decide to be a couple. This is a scene between a man (Collins) and a drag queen (Angel) so if that subject material isn't for you then skip this one. The song is a great tribute to love.

La Vie Boheme:
A former member of the group has married well and is now forcing them to pay rent for the building he originally let them stay in. He seems himself as a force for positive change - everyone in the group sees him as a traitor and a 'suit'. When he tells them that Bohemia is dead they sing in honor of La Vie Boheme. mentions a lot of controversial subjects and includes some suggestive dancing)

Take Me or Leave Me:
This scene occurs shortly after Joanna and Maureen have a commitment ceremony (yes, they are lesbians). In case it's not obvious - they break up at the end of the scene. Part of the musical is their journey away from and back to each other.

Ok I better stop. I could keep posting and by the time I'm done my blog would have all of the video.

Going to this musical really helped me face my own prejudices about AIDS, LGBT issues, and drug use. Eric was the original Rent-head in our family but it did not take me long to fall in love with it. At the end of writing this I am realizing that this post was serious - so much for wanting just something 'fun'. I still got to watch most of the movie though in picking out the clips! Now that's fun.

Give Rent a chance if you haven't already.

1 comment:

Eric B said...

I'm glad that this is a passion we can share... I'll go get it from the Storage Unit ;)