LIFE: Musical Earworms

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The Life, put on by Oakland University on October 15th, 2014.

“Gentlemen of the jury I’m curious, bear with me…”

“I used to slam on the brakes…”

“I’m hot, and pissed, and on the pill…”

“Now I’m stuck on a level and I want to move on…”

I have had a major ear worm stuck in my head for the last eight months. The rare type that isn’t just one song, but an entire collection that skips and transforms into a new melody whenever I think of a different trigger phrase or word.

Sometimes it was “satisfied” or “blue.” Other days, it was a phrase my fiance and I would share, like “now if you don’t know, now you know, Mr. President.” Then, it became “window,” and “bathroom,” followed up with “IT’S FROM JAPAAAAAAAAAAN.”

If you’re unable to tell, I’m talking about the musical quartet that has taken over the internet and filled youtube with the most amazing animatics. I’m talking about Hamilton, Heather, Dear Evan Hansen, and Be More Chill.

GOD, I wish I had the skill, to just be —

Stop.

What I mean to say is: GOD, I am in love with these musicals. So much so that I literally can not stop hearing them in my head. My fiance and I sing them constantly, to the point that we’re driving our parents nuts (although, Mom finds it charming how I now feel comfortable to do such things in public.)

I remember my first musical was Wicked. My science teacher had mentioned it to me in passing, and loaned me his CD to listen to after class. I immediately burned myself a copy of it so I could listen to it over and over and over. 

I ended up buying the book (perhaps a bit mature for an 8th grader) and read it over the course of a few days. I fondly remember him waiting patiently to let me finish the last page before starting class. Over several years, I saw Wicked at the Detroit Opera House three times, and every time I cried during For Good.

So far, my collection of musicals include (in order of how I recall being introduced):

  • Wicked
  • Chicago
  • High School Musical (yes, it counts.)
  • Hairspray
  • Sweeney Todd
  • Rent
  • Avenue Q
  • Phantom of the Opera
  • Holy Musical B@man!
  • Starship
  • A Very Potter Musical
  • Twisted
  • Carrie: the Musical
  • The Life
  • She Loves Me
  • Assassins
  • Legally Blonde
  • Hamilton
  • Heathers
  • Dear Evan Hansen
  • Be More Chill

Many of these I have seen performed live, while others I’ve only seen the movie adaptations. Of these, the only one that I haven’t watched (because it wasn’t recorded and posted to YouTube) is Be More Chill. Maybe that’s why I can’t just seem to let this one go. Thankfully, a lovely artist on YouTube is animating the entire thing with the audio. Bless them.

In the end, what I love the most about musicals is not the catchy songs, but the craft that goes into writing them. I am in awe every time I listen to Hamilton and hear the ingenious play on words, or when the motif of trees in Dear Evan Hansen makes me cry. How can one actor put so much emotion into singing a song about sitting in a bathroom, or begging their girlfriend to take him back?

The mere idea of writing the plot and musical score is something I can’t even fathom, and I am so very honored to have the privilege of seeing so many in person. It is an art that I hope never dies out, and one that I can share with my loved ones.

And I am always looking for more! So please, leave a comment and let me know your favorite musical and productions. I would love to get to know you better by knowing what you enjoy listening and watching.

 

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REVIEW: The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade

Thomas Lynch does something absolutely amazing in his memoir, The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade. He takes a job that most people don’t think about – and when they do it’s not for happy or positive reasons – and takes you down a winding path of stories about his life and the lessons he has learned over the years.

For being a poet, he isn’t heavy with the fluff and romance most people associate with poetry. His writing is very clear and concise, with straight forward similes, metaphors, and images that pack a punch. The details that are given are precise and paint a clear picture without being too grandiose. He lets the weight of the stories drive the book forward, not his ability to write. Don’t let that fool you into thinking he can’t write. He is extremely talented and an expert when it comes to pen and paper.

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ARTICLE: The Dead Don’t Care, but Thomas Lynch Does.

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Thomas Lynch visited, read his poetry and segments of his memoir to students in the Oakland Center on Tuesday, Oct. 27.

Part of the requirements to get a degree in Creative Writing is to take a specific track, whether it’s fiction, poetry, or screen writing. Although I chose to take Fiction, I was also required to try other genres. I gave both poetry and screen writing a shot, and I can say definitively that each style of writing requires a different set of skills and a different mindset to write effectively. It’s difficult to switch between the two.

Which is why Thomas Lynch is master of writing. Although he started off as a poet, he has expanded his skills to write fiction, memoirs, a book of essays, and even a play. As Brian Connery, an English professor at Oakland University said in his opening statements during Lynch’s reading, “he turned to prose with a poet’s precision.”

However, what makes Lynch unique is not his astounding ability to write in any form he wishes. It is his unique job as an undertaker that gives his poetry and fiction a new life of its own.

Lynch graced Oakland University with his presence October 26-27, giving discussions to the medical school, a craft talk on writing, and ending with an hour long reading of poetry and excerpts from his memoir The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade. Needless to say, he was very generous with his time, and everyone who attended his events were very thankful.

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