I know that a common end-of-the-year thing in the blogosphere is the retrospective post -- some kind of top 10 list of things that have happened over the year. And though I could easily drum up the material for that kind of thing, I thought that I might want to end this year looking forward, instead of back. So, I came up with a list of 10 songs by musical theatre writers and how they represent some of my hopes/goals in the new year. Please give them a listen, and feel free to share your own in the comments if you feel so inclined! In no particular order:
1. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul's "Coasting" (sung here by Steven Booth, Farah Alvin, and Whitney Bashor)
Something that I always want to stress to myself is the importance of real connections -- learning to weed through the relationships that aren't as important and really work at the ones that are. "We are capable of finding, saying, feeling so much more." I think that line alone is something to aspire to.
2. Colleen Dauncey and Akiva Romer-Segal's "I Want It Now" (sung here by Sara Farb)
It's scary not to know what you want from your life, but it can be just as scary to know exactly what you want and fear that you're never going to get it. To be ambitious, you have to delude yourself to some degree, to make assumptions about the way your life will go so that you will have the confidence to achieve it. I think this song nicely balances the hope of having big dreams with the fears that are always beneath it. A friend and I always joke that you can't cross the line into doubt, because if you fully give in, it's really hard to ever come back from it. I think this is a song that reminds me of being confident and unyielding -- no matter what the cost.
3. Paul Scott Goodman's "Kindness" (sung here by Alicia Kakauer)
This song works on two levels -- the first being that it has a message that simply reminds me of the virtue of being kind. It's such a simple thing that I think is easy to forget (especially in the hustle and bustle of New York City), so to hear a character talking about how that idea was passed down through her family is reassuring in its own way. But in a bigger sense, one that is revealed through the irony of the song, this tune reminds me that sometimes perfect advice can come from imperfect people, and it's the value of what someone says that can be more important than the person who says it.
4. Adam Gwon's "Alaska" (sung here by Nick Blaemire)
Living in New York and having wanted to live here for years, I sometimes can't believe that people want to be anywhere else, in the world or in life. But over the past year, I've especially come to terms with the idea of resetting priorities and seeing the richness of living a different life in a different place. This song puts things in perspective in both a humorous and poignant way, and I think it's always a nice reminder of what else is out there to be explored.
5. Joe Iconis' "Last on Land" (sung here by Jason "Sweet Tooth" Williams and friends)
I know I've been a huge advocate of Bloodsong of Love all year and have posted this particular song on a couple of occasions, but I felt absolutely compelled to include this in the list because I can't think of another song in recent memory that so perfectly captures the camaraderie of working with people on something you're passionate about. In anything I do, I am determined to pay tribute to and appreciate those people in my life, and this song is a promise of that.
6. Drew Fornarola's "Prayer for Faith on Christmas" (sung here by Alexa Green and Bethany Moore
Performed at a recent Holiday Songbook Series concert at Lincoln Center, I find this performance breathtaking. While I can't say I'm a religious person, there's something about the very humble lyrics and beautiful music that is incredibly moving. In a song, it opens up a need for faith and reassurance of something greater without making overly dramatic demands. It's a nice reminder that we are never alone in our search for something greater and our need for faith in something when things are tough.
7. Michael R. Jackson's "Things Change"
It's a small variation on The Trevor Project's "It Gets Better" campaign, but it's incredibly effective. There's a great message here of accepting the reality of life's challenges but seeing the world for the ever-evolving thing it is. It's true and simple, but really quite lovely in the way it refuses to adhere to cliches while delivering a positive message about sticking around to see where life takes you.
8. Gaby Alter and Tommy Newman's "The Argument" (sung here by Blake Daniel with Nick Cartell, Ryan Duncan, Piper Goodeve, Lauren Marcus, Jared Weiss)
This song always manages to get to me, especially with the way the music slows and the heart of the matter is revealed in one simple line: "The one thing we agree on is we don't have very long." It's a song about perspective and the giving and taking of relationships, musicalized in a way that is uplifting and rather grave at the same time.
9. Brett Ryback's "Hymn for St. Anthony"
It's a simple song, but it has a wonderful message about the freedom of accepting that sometimes "we lose things" and is beautifully rendered through the accompanying piano. Bonus points for this particular performance: I love the humility of this rendition without the veneer of a more polished recording. Really brings the idea to full realization.
10. Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk's "I Drove You Home" (sung here by Emma Hunton)
Kerrigan and Lowdermilk really have a knack for finding ways of stretching little moments into musical experiences that transcend time and space. This song just represents a desire to absorb each moment, to feel its weight, and to be able to share it with other people.
See you in the new year!