Songs I Have On Permanent Repeat

Songs I Have On Permanent Repeat

Liz Vestal

New Year’s makes one take stock. Look back, reflect on the year. Where you are, what you want to do. I thought about writing the cliché “shows I want to see in 2016” list and maybe I still will but I found myself reflecting on my favorite shows. From there certain songs kept running through my head. A few chords, a chorus, sometimes even one note is all it takes. Listen to the right song and not only does it transport you back to the first time (or every time) you saw that particular show. Sometimes though, a song transcends the show it is from and becomes something so much more. It becomes a part of your life, your soul, lifts you through the darkest times and adds joy to the blissful times. Here are the songs that do that for me.

“Who Will Love Me As I Am” Sideshow, 1997

While I was not fortunate enough to see the original production (or the recent revival which will go down as one of the biggest regrets of my life), this song and the entire album became the soundtrack of my high school years. As a quiet, introspective theater nerd with few friends and even fewer who appreciated theater I felt a kindred spirit to both Daisy and Violet brilliantly sung by Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner.

Their Act 1 Finale resonated with me in a way few songs ever have. It’s all anybody wants isn’t it? To be loved, appreciated and valued for who they are? Throughout high school, college and well beyond I thought this a far-off concept. To happen to others, to happen in movies, on stage but not to me. Those feelings of loneliness, of wondering, waiting, begging to be noticed are very much a part of me. When I hear this song now however, I smile because I found someone to love me as I am. I tell that shy 16-year old inside me to just wait. It gets better. 

“There’s Been a Change in Me” Beauty & the Beast, song added 1998

Beauty & the Beast is one of my favorite movies, stories, and shows. I’ve seen it 7 times and each time it’s better than I remembered.

The first time I heard this song was sometime in 2005. I was 24 and suffering from a quarter-life crisis (I’m advanced for my age, what can I say). Friends were finding their soul mates, moving up career ladders. As for me- I was 2 years out of college, living at home with my parents, finding out my dream job and career aka what I’d worked for all through college, was more of a nightmare and my love life was about on par with that of the Mother Abbess in the Sound of Music. I had no idea this song had been added to the show but I instantly adored it. Hearing it changed me. It lifted me from the depression and feelings of crap that had begun to settle. There was a change in me, I could control my life, control what happened around me, to me. Even now this song evokes a spark in me I can’t quite explain but I know when I listen to it (by Susan Egan- the original and best Belle) I remember I’ve changed before to fit what comes my way and I’ll change again. 

“Something Wonderful” The King & I, 2015

I grew up on old movie musicals and no one does it better than Rodgers and Hammerstein (if you think otherwise we’ll discuss that in a later post). They integrated lyrics and music together in a way few can match then or now.

This musical has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember so can’t remember the first time I watched the movie, but I remember fast-forwarding often through Lady Thiang’s song. As a kid, I didn’t get it. I found it slow, and it just didn’t hold my interest. Skip ahead to last year when the revival of this show was announced featuring my favorite (and yours too I’m sure) Kelli O’Hara. I immediately began dropping hints that this show would make a wonderful birthday present. The boy obliged and we saw the show this past July. Kelli was phenomenal, as I knew she would be, but Ruthie Ann Miles and her portrayal of Lady Thiang left me breathless. All of a sudden, I got it. I understood Lady Thiang and this song, the song I had ignored for so long hit me like a ton of bricks. Maybe it’s because I’m in love. Maybe it’s because my man is something and someone wonderful. I know I’ll live every word of this song as long as we’re together. 

So there’s my songs, some of them anyway. The songs that with every chord, every note helped me through my dark days, brought smiles and tears to my eyes and even years later bring me right back to the theater. What are the songs on permanent repeat in your head?

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