I started this little series of posts as a sort of self-flagellation... you’re sitting up and paying attention now, right?
I just thought it might be fun to try to highlight things that I really like which I feel you might not like at all. To defend the indefensible, to bare the very kernel of my middle-of-the-road soul. And, yeah, so far, it has been a laugh.
First we had a movie, then a song (that one was rough) then a singer and number #4 was a book. Yup, although I didn’t actually call that post ‘#4’, that’s what it was… (Here’s an impromptu competition; tell me what that book was and I’ll send you a book, we’ll work out what. Use the comments, that’s what they’re bloody there for, right?)
Below is a Youtube video of a song. It’s a song from a show which has been held up a template of middle-of-the-road/yuppie pseudo artistic endeavour. A show which has been adored and pilloried in equal measure (I pillory it a lot). And this song is in it.
The song is ‘Bring Him Home’ from the behemoth musical version of ‘Les Miserables’. I like this song, so you don’t have to. But it’s not just the song, it’s the singer. Colm Wilkinson is Irish and we’re all dead-proud of him ‘cos he went and made good on the international stage (no, not the one in Kilburn).
This singer - singing this song - does something to me. What can I tell you? The little hairs rise on the nape of my neck and stay rizzed-up until the final astounding note is done.
Have a listen and see what you think.
Here’s a curious thing. I went to see the show on Shaftesbury Avenue quite a few years ago… and I bloody hated it… and I still bloody hate it. One qualification: I liked the opening scene – the bare-naked revolving stage bit. That was brave and theatrical for a big show like that. But then it went all to hell in a hand basket with urchins and barricades and God knows what else. Hated it, grrrrrrrr.
Doubtless someone sang this song the night we went to see it but it whooshed right over my head. I think I was so annoyed at all the money I’d spent getting in to see this dross that I was rendered totally impervious to anything good about it by the time the drunken innkeeper finally buggered off.
It was years later that the song finally struck me. I remember it well. We were babysitting our nephews in Ballinrobe and the Late Late Show was on but I wasn’t paying much heed to it. Then Colm came on and sang this song live… and I stood transfixed in the centre of the floor and watched him. I literally could not believe what I heard.
So what it is about the song? He sings it quite brilliantly, I think, but it can’t be just that, can it?
Is it the sentiment that subconsciously tugs at the father in me? The elder’s plea for the life of the youth – 'take me instead'? There may be something in that – I have felt twinges of this before when reading ‘The Road’ or even watching ‘The Mist’, so I am obviously susceptible.
Or is it just a stonking good tune? I don’t think it is actually, it’s okay but it's not brilliant. No, there’s more to it that that.
Is it perhaps the vulnerability of a man adopting this emotional and moving falsetto? Does it touch the soul in some indefinable way?
For me, at least, the song is definitely operating on some base level. I equate it to the moment when the head pops out of the boat in ‘Jaws’. Something made us jump then - and it was more than just the head and the fright. Something basic was touched upon. It's the same here.
I like this song. So, go ahead, mock me as a fool. At least I stuck my neck out and I said it., right? I’m like Randall P McMurphy in the shower room… at least I tried, dammit, at least I tried.
What are you brave enough to like?