Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Why RENT?

I've been a RENT-head long before I even first saw the show this past July in NYC.

RENT's music is extremely brilliant, thanks to the amazingly talented Jonathan Larson. He's no longer with us, but his music lives on.

Prior to my seeing RENT in July, I merely plopped in the CD and drove around singing those catchy songs. I never really pondered the emotion, soul, and meanings of many of them (not to mention the cleverness) until I finally saw the show live on stage (...and yes, Frenchie Davis was in my cast.)

The show really hit home.

Relevant to me as a gay man. As an occasionally "Kate Moss sniffer" (wink). As an employee of a company that makes me always wonder, "How am I gonna pay...this year's rent, next year's rent...?"

I laughed at the show when I saw it. I was wowed by the energy. I desperately held back tears as Angel died, Maureen and Joanne had their scuffle, and Mimi and Mark struggled to admit their love for each other -- despite their secret.

But, my biggest RENT moment came to me in the privacy of my home.

No one home at the condo. I pulled out the piano bench. Plopped open the RENT sheet music. I hammered out many tunes as I had always done before.

Then, I slowed down one of the faster songs and began to weep as I sang...
"And when you're living in America, at the end of the millenium, you're what you own..."

I don't own very much...and it's not really about having it all anyway. I'd be happy with a car that has functioning air-conditioning all of the time instead of 40% of the time.

It wasn't that verse that made me weep for the superficialness of it. Nor was it the vapid and shallow fact I just mentioned about my worldly possessions.

What really tore me up was when I kept tickling the ivories and delved deeper into the song...

...Dying in America
At the end of the millenium


We're dying in America
To come into our own
And when you're dying in America
At the end of the millenium
You're not alone

I'm not alone

I'm not alone


Jonathan Larson wrote those lyrics at roughly the same age as I am now. He knew the awkward times and challenges of being a struggling thirty-something. When I played and sang those lyrics slowly...almost as a ballad...everything hit me hard.

I realized that as much as I struggle, as much as I feel like I'm going through this life all by my lonesome, I'm not alone.

I have amazingly caring (albeit sometimes over-caring) parental units. I've got a loving partner who takes damn good care of me. I have dear friends who have moved across the country. Heck, I've even friends in other countries who I am certain still cherish me as much as I cherish them.

I looked over at my dog, Chopstick, as I was realizing that life isn't hopeless. His confused and adoring eyes looking up at me as I wept.

I'm surrounded by love.

Why, I could see it in his eyes.

Side note: The film version of RENT comes out in theaters in November 23rd. Give thanks this Thanksgiving and GO SEE IT!

Another side note: The soundtrack for the film is released TODAY...I can't wait to buy my copy after work!

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