I keep having a recurring thought….
I may be alone here, but stick with me and we’ll see….
I first heard “Les Miserables” on an actual record album when it opened on Broadway in 1987. It would be several more years before I actually saw it on stage. I was in my 20’s and facing something I never thought I would face a that time in my life….
Death. Young people I knew were suddenly dying….
AIDS was at it’s most deadly peak and I was starting to see people disappear. They did that then. They disappeared to die quietly in small towns and big cities while the rest of us were stunned and not sure how to go on with this new normal….
Most of America was still trying to work through this while so many young men just …..disappeared.
I think that’s why the song that stood out for me from “Les Miserables” then was “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”. We didn’t realize it was a revolution then, but it was….
A quiet, deadly one….
We weren’t all brave and selfless, but we couldn’t miss the empty chairs at empty tables…
It was quite a different context, but it seemed to resonate with me– and I think quite a few others.
And it changed our world….
I think that may have been what made “Les Miz” relevant to our generation….
I think this subtle, subliminal, un-intentional subplot meant more to a lot of us than we realized then and may have added a gravitas for us that the rest of the show may not have otherwise reached….
With this one song, the show became part of the time and place for so many of us…it made it real and in the moment for just that moment.
Like I said, you may not be with me on this, but I think more Gay men may have had this reaction- whether or not they were aware of it- than they realized….
I know I did…
I loved how Eddie Redmayne performed this song in the movie- even if I had issues with the movie as a whole- but his very real version is not on YouTube yet. But Michael Ball’s excellent concert version is…