Music Monday: Another Suitcase in Another Hall

October 10, 2016

Andrew Lloyd Webber has two musicals of which I am very fond: Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita.

Part of this is early conditioning. I remember seeing Herod’s song from the film version of JCS on television:

(My mom had the concept album which I promptly stole.)

I saw a very strong performance of Evita at the Bucks County Playhouse when, in high school, I was there for a contest. There was a lot going on for me in those trips, but the performance was quite splendid and was probably one of the first professional theatrical performance I’d ever seen. (It really makes a difference!) Evita also struck me because 1) it was about a woman! in politics! and 2) it was about South America?! and 3) it seemed politically and personally complex. It was all pretty new to my young self. It was also, musically speaking, rather stylistically diverse. Oo! I remember being impressed that it was mostly sung with little book. That was new for me too.

A key song is Another Suitcase in Another Hall (in this video coupled with “Hello and Goodbye”):

In many ways, it’s an odd little bit: The character is nameless and has no other appearances. She exists in the musical in part to draw out the unsympathetic side of the Perons, but also to show the path Eva didn’t take (but easily could have). It’s very poignant.

The lyrics are some of Tim Rice’s best. One striking bit is how the verse is all negative. Consider the opening:

I don’t expect my love affairs to last for long
Never fool myself that my dreams will come true
Being used to trouble I anticipate it
But all the same I hate it, wouldn’t you?

Everything is broken. Whatever is positive (love affairs, dreams) is broken and even the coping strategy fails. And the last verse almost reaches a kind of bleak optimism before crashing down:

Call in three months time and I’ll be fine, I know
Well maybe not that fine, but I’ll survive anyhow
I won’t recall the names and places of each sad occasion
But that’s no consolation here and now.

It also won’t be consolation then when this pattern recurs! As it will!

I don’t think the song succeeds in its assigned task. Partly, it’s too pretty (and Barbara Dixon’s rendition is perfect…PERFECT I TELL YOU!!!). Partly, it’s swamped by incident and song throughout the rest of the show.

Of course, the movie version gives the song to Evita/Madonna:

 

I certainly understand Madonna wanting the song, but I prefer it as the weird little thing that it was.

Update: I’m in the midst of first period slog (two all day classes one of which is still new and in serious flux; one I teach all by myself, the other I have Uli saving me), which means sleep deprivation Sleep deprivation means song hacks. This time it’s a song hack about not sleeping!

I don’t expect my efficiency to last for long
Never fool myself that my dreams will come true
Being used to slogging I anticipate it
But all the same I hate it – wouldn’t you?

So what happens now?
Another all-nighter in another Fall
So what happens now?
Bang your head against another wall
When am I going to sleep?
You’ll get by, you always have before
When am I going to sleep?

Time and time again I’ve said that I’ll prepare
That I’m immune to gloom, that I’ll focus and be through
But every time it matters all my words desert me
So anyone can distract me – and they do

So what happens now?
Another all-nighter in another Fall
So what happens now?
Bang your head against another wall
When am I going to sleep?
You’ll get by, you always have before
When am I going to sleep?

Call in three days time and I’ll be fine I know
Well maybe not that fine, but I’ll survive anyhow
I won’t recall the names and papers of this sad occasion
But that’s no consolation – here and now

So what happens now?
Another all-nighter in another Fall
So what happens now?
Bang your head against another wall
When am I going to sleep?
You’ll get by, you always have before
When am I going to sleep?
Don’t ask anymore

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