October 29, 2007

a 'guilty' pleasure

Long car rides with dull scenery are made infinitely more bearable with music to listen to. The best kind of music, when one is cruising the highway at high speeds, is the music that can be sung from way down deep; the music that you put your whole heart into when you belt it out. I have taken the drive from Aberdeen, South Dakota to Alexandria, Minnesota many times before; it is three hours long, straight, and dull. To pass the time, and make the ride more bearable, I listen to music and sing my heart out.
I never make the drive from Aberdeen to Alexandria without listening to the Rent: Selections of the Original Motion Picture soundtrack. Rent is a Broadway musical that was made into a movie. It is about a group of young musicians who are trying to make it in the slums of New York City, with a cloud of poverty and AIDS hovering over their head. Each and every one of the characters in the musical has an amazing voice, but I swoon every time I hear the voice of Jesse L. Martin, who plays the character of Tom Collins. Although I enjoy nearly all of the song on the seventeen track disc, whenever I put in the CD, I listen to “I’ll Cover You (Reprise),” which features his voice. This song makes the whole soundtrack worth listening to; the tremendous power and beauty it has moves me every time I hear the words. I turn this one up the loudest and belt out the lines I know by heart.
For some, this musical is very difficult to like. Rent is largely based on issues that were very prominent in New York when it was written: drugs, homosexual relationships, AIDS, and making the most when living in poverty. It is not appealing to those you are homophobes or those against expressing different views on problems such as AIDS and drugs. Also, many young people today, although they are willing to accept some of the subjects of Rent, do not find musicals engaging. While these subjects make a certain number of people shy away from the film, I am willing to appreciate or look past them, and recognize how extraordinary the film, and especially the soundtrack, is.
Anyone who appreciates music should try to look past the issues that make the film slightly different. Even if one is unable to stomach the openness of the film, they should experience the marvelous soundtrack to the movie. Beautiful voices and impressive lyrics fill the tracks on this CD and are worth every note, no matter the context. Looking past the things that are different from our own lives and seeing the beauty in the soundtrack is something that can be done. Of course, the best way to listen to the Rent soundtrack, and the song“I’ll Cover You (Reprise),” is with a long drive ahead of you, and nothing to think about but the brilliant music.

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