Green Room

Do they Hear the People Sing?

posted at 10:29 pm on June 14, 2010 by

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!

First, a confession – I am a big fan of musicals. If I were to compile a bucket list, seeing a Broadway show would be near the top. It would fall only slightly below actually performing in one, as I’ve always harbored a secret desire to play Seymour Krelborn in “Little Shop of Horrors.” What impresses me about musicals is the ability of the songwriters and performers to advance the plot using both song and narrative. Music is a powerful medium. Plato once wrote that “music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue.” I sincerely believe that music can communicate ideas in a more powerful way than narrative because words are easier to remember when married to melody. Anyone who’s ever had an earworm song stuck in their head has experienced that power.

Although I’ve never seen the play, some of my favorite songs are from “Les Miserables.” Some of the songs are fun to sing (“Stars,” “I Dreamed a Dream”) and others have the ability to create goosebumps and/or emotion (“Empty Chairs at Empty Tables,” “On My Own.”) One of the strongest songs in the play is “Do You Hear the People Sing,” which is quoted at the beginning of this post. It is a defiant song – at times, it almost feels more shouted than sung. The characters who sing it are clearly fed up with the status quo and are communicating not only that frustration, but also a willingness to fight for what they believe in, no matter the cost. It is a song performed by those who are tired of being ignored by people in power.

In other words, it’s the perfect tea party anthem. I can’t remember where I saw it, but I’ve heard that Laura Ingraham has used it as bumper music on her radio show. As I watch what is going on in Washington, DC, it’s a song that has come to mind on numerous occasions.

The political ruling class in this country is ignoring us, and has been for some time. The true roots of the tea party movement were planted when the GOP ran Congress and used their power to engage in an orgy of government spending. Their largesse angered fiscal conservatives, many of whom stayed home in 2006, the year Democrats regained control of Congress and the nation’s checkbook. In 2008, the fad of Bush-hating was at its peak and America expanded the Democratic majority in Congress and elected a president who lied about his desire to enact a net spending cut. That president and Congress, reveling in their power, quickly passed a stimulus bill that did little more than reward Democrat constituencies. After that bill was passed, in the summer of 2009, the people began to sing. Tea parties cropped up around the country and those who participated were quickly dismissed as racist cranks by the Democrats and the media.

At the end of that year, the Senate, at the insistence of the president, passed a healthcare bill full of kickbacks and special deals. In January of 2010, the public’s song grew louder when Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown won the Senate seat formerly held by the late Ted Kennedy. Later that year, the tone-deaf president and his Congressional enablers – Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid – muscled the healthcare bill through Congress. When Republicans failed to win special elections, the powerful thought the people had stopped singing. They were, and are, wrong.

Openly defying the will of the people has only made their contempt for the populace more brazen. The people are still singing, but in their arrogance, those in power continue to spoil themselves with our money, demand special treatment even if it inconveniences others, and steal from the next generation to appease the perpetually greedy. With every dollar they request, Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress are adding links to the chains of debt that will enslave future generations of Americans. As the father of two daughters whose quality of life will be impacted by the effects of that debt, I take that personally. Watching the president put his own ideological ambitions above the fiscal well-being of this country makes me join in the chorus of a people who are unwilling to simply lay down and accept that fate. For the sake of my daughters and those of their generation, I have joined in the fight that will give them the right to be free.

In five months, we have the opportunity to rebuke those who have spent a year and a half ignoring us, mocking our concerns and belittling us as racists and haters. Between now and then, I encourage you to donate to candidates who will fight on our behalf and work to help them get elected. Join in the chorus and show the arrogant statists in government where political power truly resides.

The majority of songs in “Les Miserables” are pretty depressing. However, in the epilogue, the play takes an unexpected turn toward the positive:

Do you hear the people sing
Lost in the valley of the night
It is the music of a people
Who are climbing to the light

For the wretched of the earth
There is a flame that never dies
Even the darkest night will end
And the sun will rise.

These lyrics are a good reminder that although we may be angry, there is no reason for discouragement. The flame may flicker at times, but it never dies.

Now, onto November.

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Love Les Miz.
Love the song.

Love the post.

I’ll stand at the barricade with you, Slublog, whenever, wherever. (Metaphorically, speaking, of course.) Although, “Stars“? That’s your idea of a fun song to sing? 😉

Abby Adams on June 15, 2010 at 10:38 AM

Slu, I saw the headline this morning and the song has been in my head all day. It is fitting.

(And cheers to Gov. Jindal for actually getting a barricade started today.)

MamaAJ on June 15, 2010 at 6:35 PM

this post is just kinda missing something though…something like this:

das411 on June 16, 2010 at 12:16 AM

Drink with me to days gone by
’Long as there’s no DUI
Will the world be free to drink alcohol?
Could they ban it ’cause it isn’t halal?
I’d just like to see them try.

ClassicalMusicNerd on June 16, 2010 at 4:17 PM