Here me now, oh thou bleak and unbearable world:
Thou art base and debauched as can be,1 [but] just because you find that life’s not fair,
it doesn’t mean that you just have to grin and bear it.2 The play isn’t over by a long shot yet: There are heroes in the world!3
Will you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me?4 ‘Cause just to sit still would be a sin.5 And though you’ll never know all the steps, you must learn to join the dance.6 Maybe you’re going to fall, but it’s better than not starting at all.7
Realise that everyone is fighting just like you.8 Fight just a little.9 I’ll always be there, as frightened as you, to help us survive being alive.10 Wrongs will be righted, if we’re united; let us seize the day.11
Make them hear you.
And tell them in our struggle, we were not the only ones:12 Tomorrow, there’ll be more of us13 willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause.14 Let the new day dawn15…the sun will rise.16
Sources 1 “I, Don Quixote”, Man of La Mancha (Colm Wilkinson) 2 “Naughty”, Matilda (Royal Shakespeare Company) 3 “There Won’t Be Trumpets”, Anyone Can Whistle (Bernadette Peters) 4 “Do You Hear the People Sing?”, Les Miserables (1985 Cast Recording) 5 “I Know Where I’ve Been”, Hairspray (Queen Latifah) 6 “Through Heaven’s Eyes”, The Prince of Egypt (Brian Stokes Mitchell) 7 “Everybody Says Don’t”, Anyone Can Whistle (Mandy Patinkin) 8 “Anyone But Me”, Real Women (written by Jackie Ozorio and Matt Samer) 9 “She Used to Be Mine”, Waitress (Sara Bareilles) 10 “Being Alive”, Company (Bernadette Peters) 11 “Seize the Day”, Newsies (Original Broadway Cast) 12 “Make Them Hear You”, Ragtime (Brian Stokes Mitchell) 13 “The Story of Tonight”, Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast) 14 “The Impossible Dream”, Man of La Mancha (Colm Wilkinson) 15 “Till We Reach that Day”, Ragtime (Original Broadway Cast) 16 “Endless Night”, The Lion King (Jason Raize)
It’s important that the main piece ends the way that it does. But after you’ve had a moment, listen to the outro. It’s equally important. And when you’re ready, get a bit more hopeful with Broadway Preaches: Action for Change.
listen to the main song compilation:
A shtetl iz Amerike, (America is a shtetl) amekhaye khlebn! (Where I swear life is great!)1 What other place can compare? The American Dream!2 I see Americans, all Americans, free forevermore.3
So…you think justice has a voice?4 Life is alright in America – if you’re all-white in America.5 What’s white looks whiter; what’s black looks blacker… I ain’t done nothin’, but I’m going to die.6 Molasses, to rum, to slaves: ’Tisn’t morals, ’tis money that saves. Shall we dance to the sound of the profitable pound?7
You’re living in America; leave your conscience at the tone.8 Listen to the sound, take a look around: We’re the other national anthem, folks, the ones that can’t get in9…immigrants. We get the job done.10 Their dreams were yours; their dreams were mine, but in those dreams were hidden dragons.11
Let us at last make this the land of opportunity for all people, not just the owners.12 Do you hear the people sing, singing the song of angry men? It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again:13 No more the meek and mild subservients we, we’re fighting for our rights militantly.14 Tell those with power, safe in their tower, we will not obey.15 “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…” We fought for these ideals, we shouldn’t settle for less.16 There’s a hunger in the land; there’s a reckoning still to be reckoned.17
Picket lines and picket signs, don’t you punish me with brutality!18 And say to the others who did not follow through: “You’re still our brothers, and we will fight for you.19 We’ll bleed and fight for you. We’ll make it right for you.”20
Brother, brother, brother, there’s far too many of you dying,21 dying in America.22 All this pain and devastation, how it tortures me inside.23
Every day I wake up knowing what you’ve lost and what is owing:24 A day of justice we have been denied, where a man can live, and a child can play.25
There’s a cry asking WHY,26 when did man lose his reason? Save us, my God, if you’re there….God, can you not feel the terror? Like a fire in the air,27 when’s it gonna end? When we gonna live?
Something’s gotta happen, or something’s gonna give28 – gotta rise up, tell your sister that she’s gotta rise up.29
Will justice be demanded by ten million righteous men?30 Revolution, justice, screaming for solutions, forcing changes.31 If you don’t like what we say, try living here a couple days. Watch all your friends and family die.32
I hate you. God damn America.33
I hope that you burn.34
listen to the outro:
No man, no madness, though their sad power may prevail, can possess, conquer, my country’s heart: They rise, to fail.35
Sources 1 “A Shtetl Iz Amerike”, Ragtime (Original Broadway Cast) 2 “The American Dream”, Miss Saigon (1995 US National Tour Cast) 3 “Is Anybody There?”, 1776 (Film) 4 “Everything You Ever”, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (Neil Patrick Harris) 5 “America”, West Side Story (1961 Film) 6 “Nothin’”, Scottsboro Boys (Original Cast) 7 “Molasses to Rum”, 1776 (1972 Film) 8, 22 “What You Own”, Rent (2005 Film) 9 “Another National Anthem”, Assassins (Original Cast) 10 “Yorktown”, Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast) 11 “Sunset Boulevard”, Sunset Boulevard (Alan Campbell) 12, 33 “The Night That Goldman Spoke”, Ragtime (Original Broadway Cast) 13 “Do You Hear the People Sing?”, Les Misérables (1985 Cast) 14 “Sister Suffragette”, Mary Poppins (1964 Film) 15, 19 “Seize the Day”, Newsies (Original Broadway Cast) 16 “Cabinet Battle #1”, Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast) 17 “At the End of the Day”, Les Misérables (1985 Cast) 18, 21 “War / What’s Going On”, Motown the Musical (Original Cast) 20 “Dear Theodosia”, Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast) 23 “The Plagues”, The Prince of Egypt (1998 Film) 24 “He Wanted to Say”, Ragtime (Original Broadway Cast) 25 “’Till We Reach that Day”, Ragtime (Original Broadway Cast) 26 “I Know Where I’ve Been”, Hairspray (Queen Latifah) 27 “Madame Guillotine”, The Scarlet Pimpernel (Original Broadway Cast) 28 “Look Down”, Les Misérables (2012 Film) 29 “Rise Up”, Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast) 30 “Make Them Hear You”, Ragtime (Brian Stokes Mitchell) 31 “La Vie Boheme”, Rent (2005 Film) 32 “Hasa Diga Eebowai”, The Book of Mormon (Original Broadway Cast) 34 “Burn”, Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast) 35 “Anthem”, Chess (Rodrick Dixon) 36 “Edelweiss”, The Sound of Music (1965 Film)
This Passover, Jews around the world are sheltering in their homes as children ask “Why is this night different from all other nights?”, even though every night now feels the same.
This Holy Week, Christians across the globe are wondering how to celebrate a resurrection while so many are dying.
This year, millions all over the planet are suffering from the same hunger, illness, exploitation, and insecurity as they did long before – and will long after – COVID-19 gave pause to those of us with privilege.
I rewrote the lyrics to Thiele and Weiss’ “What a Wonderful World” to capture my mixed feelings of despair and hope at the moment. Thanks, always, to the brilliant Mr Louis Armstrong, who lived his life in a world that denied him rights and yet still saw great beauty. We owe him and so many others so much more. May we use these days to give it to them.
And please – add a verse! What’s giving you hope these days? Share a few lines in the comments. I’ll start…
Heal our Hurt, Broken World
I see war and greed Famine and flu All of our hate Will kill me and you And I think to myself What a hurt, broken world
I hear thousands cry Trauma and woe We’ve caused more harm Than we even know Yet I hope to myself We might heal this hurt world
The colors of the rainbow So pretty in the skies Are also on the masks worn By nurses saving lives I see strangers cross streets Waving “How do you do?” Keeping their distance To save you
I see milk dropped off For Old John next door Hands lending aid Without keeping score And I know in my heart We could heal this hurt world