Bleh with Barry

Random with a cynical twist of lime.

I Miss the Mountains: Spoiler Alert

with 4 comments

In the show Next to Normal (N2N), Alice Ripley’s character Diana sings a song called “I Miss the Mountains” in which she talks about missing the pain that she had when she wasn’t in a drug induced stupor. She talks about when she was younger and how she misses the woman that she used to be. Yesterday, while at dinner with some of my friends, we were discussing N2N and this song came up. I was saying that I enjoyed the songs that Diana sings because 1: they’re beautiful and 2: they’re in my range if I sing them in lower octaves (I’m a baritone and the men in the show are all pretty tenortastic).

One of my friends who is familiar with the musical as well, we actually saw it as a group in NYC, made the comment that the song doesn’t fit with the overarching musical feel of the show. It is a rock opera, and this number feels very much like a power ballad…not very rock opera-y.  It doesn’t rely on the drum set or the electric guitar to convey the emotion…it mainly uses Alice Ripley’s voice and a few softer toned instruments like the piano and strings. It is a beautiful piece that shows that she has hope for herself to feel again (however derogatory this may be for her health and wellness). The imagery used in the song paints a wonderful picture of someone struggling emotionally against themselves and the medicine that is keeping them “balanced and on an even keel”. While “everything is perfect, nothing’s real” for them. Finally at the end of the song, she decides that she will risk it without medicine so that she can feel again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2CXMXEIPI0

But going back to the idea of the song not fitting, I agree with my friend. It is a beautiful song, yet it does seem out of place in the musical. With musical form, it is the odd ball. However, I will say that in my mind it does fit. The reason being that the song itself is a moment of clarity for Diana in the cacophony of the life that she lives in…of the musical that she resides it. It allows us a brief peek into the  calm that Diana is feeling and the fact that it doesn’t feel “normal” or real to her…it is outside the realm of reality that she has been living in…the song itself represents the drug induced stupor that Diana is in…it is calm and seemingly wonderful, but in reality, it is not what she is used to…it is not what makes her come alive. The fact that the music change is symbolic of the change that has occurred to her between this song and “My Psychopharmacologist and I”…it’s actually quite brilliant within the framework of the musical.

My other reason for the song is that I believe every musical writer writes with some idea in mind of having a stand alone song and “I Miss the Mountains” is this. If you watched it performed anywhere, you can get a feel for the song without having to have the overarch of the story. Honestly, I believe that it is good for any musical that is going to try to drum up publicity with concerts to have at least one number like that, and this one does just that. It gives enough of a hint at the story to be intriguing and has its own meaning and structural support as a solo piece.

So, yeah, I think it’s quite obvious at this point that I am enamoured with N2N…It’s a wonderful show that I would suggest everyone seeing if they get the chance. If not, I recommend getting the soundtrack and listening to it on repeat so that you can begin to fall in love with a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize Winning masterpiece.

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Written by barryr22

April 13, 2010 at 11:59 am

4 Responses

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  1. I think you’re spot on. But I think the stand-alone song that they bank on the most is Superboy and the Invisible Girl. There’s a LOT of youtube videos of that song.

    Creaves

    April 13, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    • But it doesn’t really make sense without the context of the show…”I Miss the Mountains” can because it is relatable to anyone…missing their life, feeling the pain…wanting something other than what they have.

      barryr22

      April 14, 2010 at 12:02 am

      • On the contrary. Every girl I know at that age could identify with “Superboy.”

        Creaves

        April 23, 2010 at 9:31 pm

      • Still, it doesn’t have the vast connectivity that “I Miss the Mountains Does.” Plus, every girl is going to hear it and think “I can sing like that”…enter a whole host of crappy renditions of said song…not everyone is going to think they can sing this song.

        barryr22

        April 23, 2010 at 9:32 pm


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