Tick…Tick…Boom – Jonathan Larson’s genius

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I just saw Tick…Tick… Boom for the third time. Written by one of my favorite composers, Jonathan Larson, it tells the story of an artist the week before his 30th birthday and the choices he must make. I’ve now seen this show while in my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s and I find it equally profound in each decade. While there are some silly songs in the rock musical, there are also some extremely poignant and emotionally charged songs. My three favorite songs from the show are: 30/90, a buoyant expression of frustration as the lead character realizes he can’t stop getting older. Partial lyrics below. Here is a great youtube clip.

Year’s are getting shorter
The lines on your face are getting longer
Feel like you’re treading water
But the riptide’s getting stronger
Don’t panic, don’t jump ship
Can’t find it, like taxes
At least it happens
Only once in your life
They’re singing, “Happy Birthday”
You just wanna lay down and cry
Not just another birthday, it’s 30/90
Why can’t you stay 29
Hell, you still feel like you’re 22
Turn 30 in 1990
Bang! You’re dead, what can you do?

Come to your senses is sung as part of the play within the play. It is a truly heartbreaking song about a couple who have been together too long and are on the verge of breaking up. Partial lyrics below. Here is a great youtube clip.

You’re on the air, I’m under ground
Signal’s fading, can’t be found
I finally open up
For you I would do anything
But you’ve turned off the volume
Just when I’ve begun to sing

The show’s finale song, Louder than Words – is the song which always stays with me long after the show ends. It’s a charge to anyone who listens that words themselves are meaningless unless you perform the actions which back them up. Below is a partial list of lyrics. Here is a great youtube clip.

Cages or wings?
Which do you prefer?
Ask the birds.
Fear or love, baby?
Don’t say the answer
Actions speak louder than words
.

If you have the chance to see Larson’s Tick…Tick…Boom or Rent, do.
R.I.P. Jonathan.

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