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In praise of musicals about famous men

As many people know, I generally like holidays of all shapes and sizes.  I refer to some things that are not holidays as holidays because they evoke a holiday-type spirit and hope to convince others that these are occasions for joy and celebration. Really, if people had any sense, these days would be marked on calendars as a matter of course.  But before you think that I have no discernment in my merry-making, not all holidays are created equal.

To ensure that I don’t completely exhaust my celebratory reserves, I have a personal hierarchy of holidays.  At the top of my list are the secular, make-it-yourself holidays.  And, if there are fireworks involved, well, that holiday’s stock gets just a little higher.  So, you can just imagine, in light of my love of fireworks, meat cooked over open flame, and Americana, how much I adore the Fourth of July.

This particular Fourth, I’ve been circling back to one particularly apt musical.  One that’s often forgotten and hardly ever on t.v., even though it would make for a nice run-up to Independence Day.  I’m – of course – referring to 1776. Having been born in the 1908s, I sort of missed the cultural moment that would have made this musical a part of my childhood; however, I have many friends who hold 1776 dear and have convinced me that I didn’t know how much I loved the Founders until I saw them hashing out the Declaration of Independence in song.  Think about it: John Adams as the main character in a musical?  Why aren’t they showing this in the schools?

I haven’t completely missed the boat on 1776, though.  For reasons that aren’t exactly clear, there have been several local revivals of the show, so I’ve been able to witness the magic of a singing John Adams and Thomas Jefferson myself.  But 1776 enthusiasts – and there are more of them than you’d expect – hold the movie in special regard.  So, today, I present some memorable moments of independence declaring, nation-building in song.

Let’s start at the beginning:

While it is often left out of the history books, Thomas Jefferson had some writer’s block that only Martha Jefferson could cure….

Here’s a song that shows us that some things aren’t new to our political system:

And, finally, the winner in the categories of: 1.) Holy crap, someone wrote a song about that for a musical? and 2.) Most ominous song in a musical:

Happy Fourth of July!


2 thoughts on “In praise of musicals about famous men

  1. Indeed, 1776 puts that whole John Adams miniseries thing they did on HBO to shame! Yes, the miniseries featured realistic depictions of both smallpox vaccinations and early breast cancer surgeries… but personally, I’d rather watch Thomas Jefferson DANCE. More fun and, heck, maybe even more historically enlightening as well.

  2. Ms. H, you’ve also forgotten that the romantic lives of the Founders, while pronounced in both films, are significantly less creepy in 1776. After all, John Adams merely admits that “he burns” for his wife in the musical, whereas in *John Adams* I started yelling, “This is happening. THIS IS NOT A DRILL” during that reunion in Paris.

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