I told you to stay tuned for Part 2 and here it is!

“Aquarius” – Hair

One can’t really think of the age of hippies and the Vietnam War without having a brief flash from Hair, the musical. I have many fond memories of growing up with the movie and all of its randomness and I remember seeing a college theatrical production of it and being terribly surprised by its disjointed nature. Upon reflection, that seems so perfect for it, its message, and the era. Nothing really sums up hope in that musical quite like its opening song, “Aquarius.”

When the moon is in the seventh house
and Jupiter aligns with Mars
then peace will guide the planets
and love will steer the stars

this is the dawning of the age of aquarius
the age of aquarius

“I Am What I Am” – La Cage Aux Folles

I came upon this song later in life. I don’t mean to sound terribly old or anything. Now that I’ve heard it and embraced it, it’s hard not to love it. It’s got a message of just standing up and being yourself without taking crap from anyone else. This story about two gay men who try to pretend otherwise for the sake of the son they raised. The son wants to marry a girl who comes from conservative parents. Hilarity ensues. The musical is based off of a play by the same name and the tale later served as inspiration for The Birdcage. In any case, this song is a nice song for inspiring people to march to their own drum.

I am what I am,
I don’t want praise, I don’t want pity.
I bang my own drum,
Some think it’s noise, I think it’s pretty.
And so what, if I love each feather and each spangle,
Why not try to see things from a diff’rent angle?
Your life is a sham ’til you can shout out loud
I am what I am!

“La Vie Boheme” – Rent

When I told a friend of mine that I was going to be making this list, she threatened to disown me if I didn’t include this song. Filled with all sorts of messages about being your own person and doing what works for you, I can’t really blame her for the threat. Since I like her and the song, I tossed it in here. The lyrics that touch on everything from sex, to relationships, to art. . .what’s not to love?

To days of inspiration, playing hooky, making something out of nothing
The need to express, to communicate
To going against the grain, going insane, going mad

To loving tension, no pension, to more than one dimension
To starving for attention hating convention, hating pretension
Not to mention of course hating dear old mom and dad

To riding your bike midday past the three piece suits
To fruits, to no absolutes
To Absolut, to choice, to the Village Voice
To any passing fad

To being an ‘us’ for once
Instead of a ‘them’
La vie boheme
La vie boheme

“The Impossible Dream” – Man of La Mancha

I grew up watching the movie version of this musical. It’s one of my most favorite movie musicals based on Peter O’Toole alone. Though, who doesn’t love Sophia Loren? She may not have been the best singer, but she set a great standard for Aldonza/Dulcinea. Whenever you tilt at windmills and strive for the impossible, you’re pulling a Don Quixote and that’s just awesome. Just keep trying your best and keep on going no matter the odds. (The clip is from the recent-ish Broadway revival cast because I love Brian Stokes Mitchell’s voice).

To dream the impossible dream,
To fight the unbeatable foe,
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go;
To right the unrightable wrong.

To love, pure and chaste, from afar,
To try, when your arms are too weary,
To reach the unreachable star!

This is my Quest to follow that star,
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far,
To fight for the right
Without question or pause,
To be willing to march into hell
For a heavenly cause!

“Run, Freedom, Run!” – Urinetown

Urinetown is a fascinating musical about how a water shortage leads to corporate-run watery amenities, like toilets. Ultimately, people rebel against having to pay for the privilege to pee. I’ve never actually seen a production of this, but I’m told that it’s an awesome bit of satire. After all, what’s not to love about a musical about sticking it to the man and corporate greed? This song just makes you feel good, though.

Run, freedom, run!
Freedom, run away!
My friends, you have to run
Run-a, run-a, run
Freedom, run away!

That freedom sun
Will shine someday
‘Til then you better run
Run-a, run-a, run
Freedom, run away!

“Hold On” – The Secret Garden

A bit low-key for this list, “Hold On”  is a song from later in the musical version of The Secret Garden. Mary Lennox is being faced with banishment to a boarding school for daring to befriend her sickly cousin and giving him hope for an actual normal life. Her chambermaid steps in and tells her to stop doubting herself and to just stand up and hold on tight. When things look like they’re going to Hell in a handbasket. Hold on to that handbasket and stick the landing. You’ll be able to crawl out and move on.

When you feel your heart is poundin’,
Fear a devil’s at your door.
There’s no place to hide-
You’re frozen to the floor!
What you do then is you force yourself
To wake up, and you say:
“It’s this dream, not me,
that’s bound to go away.”

Hold on,
Hold on, the night will soon be by.
Hold on,
Until there’s nothing left to try.
Child, hold on, There’s angels on their way!
Hold on and hear them say,
“Child, oh child!”

“Everybody Rejoice” – The Wiz

I had to end on a cheerful note. This was yet another musical that I grew up with. Well. I grew up with the movie in all of its fantastic and discotastic glory. My parents’ ringtone on my phone comes from this movie. This musical is a race-flipped adaptation of The Wizard of Oz and, with that in mind, it’s filled with a great deal of allegory alluding to the African American experience. That said, the joy in this song is contagious and makes everyone hopeful for that brand new day. Whenever that is.

Everybody be glad
Because the sun is shining just for us
Everybody wake up
Into the morning into happiness
Hello world
It’s like a different way of living now
And thank you world
We always knew that we’d be free somehow
In harmony
And show the world that we’ve got liberty

It’s such a change
For us to live so independently
Freedom, you see, has got our hearts singing so joyfully
Just look about
You owe it to yourself to check it out
Can’t you feel a brand new day?

 

Thank you all for reading this not-entirely-comprehensive list of Show Tunes for Great Justice. All of these songs were picked out from what I had in my personal music collection. It would’ve been a much, much longer list if I’d extended it to all of the musicals ever.

Be glad.