Les Miserables, the Soundtrack of My Adulthood

Some French class I took, either in high school or college I had to read Les Miserables, in French. I wish that the musical had been created before then because I really could have used it to help me know what was going on in the incredibly complicated story. Once a better French student than me explained what was going on I was hooked. It was every kind of story all in one, a love story, a tragedy, a war, a comedy, an epic.

I can’t ever remember being an adult and not knowing every word in the whole Les Mis soundtrack. I have the two disk album from the 80’s and from that I made a cassette tape. I played that tape in my car as I drove up and down the east coast selling mail opening machines. I listened to that cassette in my Walkman on Rehoboth Beach every summer I had my summer house with my Washington friends.

I saw the original Broadway show in New York. Then I passed my love of Les Mis on to my child who listened on CD and then on iPod to the musical. It was the first show I took her to in London when she was in 8th grade. We went to see the movie version together, twice. And tonight I finally saw it at the DPAC with Russ.

The French Revolution may not have anything to do with my adulthood, but when I hear any song from the show I feel like I am in my twenties again, or maybe my thirties, forties and fifties.

There are a few albums that I have listened to so many times over such a long period of my life, like Jackson Browne’s The Pretender, or James Taylor’s JT, the Beatles’ Abby Road and Let it Be or Carole King’s Tapestry that I can bring myself right back to the place I first was when I started listening to them. Les Mis was one of those albums.

The thing about music that was different back when I was young was that if you got an album you loved you listened to it over and over again. I even had a repeat function on my turn table so it would just keep replaying the same side until you stopped it. I kind of miss that looping of music to the point that it is completely ingrained in your soul.

There is nothing I like better than being able to sing every word along with an album, especially if no one else is around to hear how badly I sing. It took all my energy to not sing tonight at the show, but I did love listening to live people sing it and sing it well. I don’t see any end in sight for Les Mis in my life, except I just don’t ever want to try and read it in French again.

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