Saturday, November 19, 2016

Jason Robert Brown's "Hope"

I know it's been a while. Beyond the usually insanity of the school year, the run-up to the election and the election results sapped the will to write right out of me. Although I don't post a ton about politics on this blog, a quick search will probably give you a good sense of my political leanings. Consequently, you wouldn't be all that surprised to find that I am not, in any way, shape, or form, at all happy about the outcome of the election. What's more, the fallout has been pretty devastating. The uptick in violence and harassment of certain groups of people, including minorities and people who are undocumented, has been especially difficult to process. Since I now live in the Midwest (in a state that did not go blue and in a county that also did not go blue), I feel especially isolated. While my friends and colleagues tend to have the same mindset that I have, the majority of people who surround me do not.

This continued stress and uncertainty about the future (both personal and national) are taking its toll. However, as often happens in times like these, some pieces of pop culture have emerged to make me feel, if not quite better, then at least not as alone. Jason Robert Brown, the composer-lyricist for shows such as Parade and Songs for a New World, wrote and debuted "Hope" the day after the election. What I find particularly helpful about the song is that it doesn't end with a cheery, "everything is going to be okay" platitude. Instead, Brown, as he often does in his musicals, acknowledges the difficulty of the situation while also reminding us that "the work begins."

If you want something a little more angry and still politically charged, there's also Brown's biting "A Song About Your Gun," which he wrote in response to the Orlando shooting. It mixes a very catchy tune with some biting lyrics, and for me, it makes an effective "get up and do something productive about this mess we are in" anthem.