2016-04-07

rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
This was inspired by a tweet from [personal profile] hollymath about singing at the next Glee Club, and whether there were "enough" LibDem Hamilton fans to include songs from it.  Despite having no idea yet about when I shall next get to Glee Club[1], I found myself pondering the question every time I listen to the cast recording[2].

Glee Club is a long-standing feature of LibDem (and previously Liberal) Party Conferences: late on the final evening people gather and sing for a good few hours, aided by the regularly-updated Liberator Songbook[3], and possibly also by alcohol.  I'd group the songs sung into three rough categories:
  1. Contemporary political songs from assorted points in history, sung pretty much straight (e.g. The Land, We Shall Overcome)
  2. Filks on well-known songs which comment on specific political events/arguments/personalities - there's usually at least one or two new ones of these each year, and the best keep on being included each year (e.g. The Lib/Lab Lie, Letterboxes, 12 Days of Merger/Coalition)
  3. Songs sung for the sheer joy of them (e.g. the various regional songs, anything performed by Pauline P)
The sung-through nature of Hamilton means most of the songs depend strongly on context, and/or have sung or spoken narration & dialogue embedded within.  This makes the cast recording delightfully complete, but does make it harder to pick out songs that work in isolation.  Some of my favourites are also so technically challenging I'd not want to try them in a Glee Club setting, e.g. Guns and Ships or Non-Stop.

Category-1 songs:
Cabinet Battle #1 is explicitly political, though for Glee Club you'd need a confident performer to lead each section, and I think you'd have stop it at "I'll show you where the shoe fits" for it to work as a one-off.

The Room Where It Happens is all about power and who takes decisions and how (there's a whole lot of resonances for coalition e.g. "no one really knows how the parties get to yes / the pieces that are sacrificed in every game of chess"); for Glee Club I'd start it at "Two Virginians and an immigrant walk into a room" and cut the opening dialogue between Burr and Hamilton.

Category-3 songs:
The Story of Tonight is a very feel-good little song about friendship and common cause, though not explicitly political

Hurricane in isolation is beautiful, and has a certain appeal to anyone who's written leaflet after leaflet attempting to persuade the public to vote for them.


You'll notice I've included nothing in category-2 - I think Hamilton is novel and excitingly political all by itself; maybe when it's old hat I'll be ready to think about filking some of it for political commentary, but that isn't this year.  Also, I really love My Shot but it's really a bit long and complicated for a group mostly new to it; I think Wait For It is beautiful but the central attitude of "I'd rather wait for things to be explained/improved than do anything active about it" doesn't feel very LibDem.

If I had to pick just one, then I'd pick The Room Where It Happens.   Though I confess I'd love to hear Pauline singing Burn.




[1] September is too far away for me to predict my state of recovery, but not so far away that I can handwave it as "surely I'll be done by then", as I have for e.g. Helsinki 2017.  Also, politics really is off my priority list while I focus on a) recovery b) family c) work d) study so it's hard to justify the time/expense of Conference even when I am recovered.

[2] Yes, that's still pretty-much daily, yes it's been nearly three months, when normally I get over this repeat-listening phase in a week or two

[3] When I helped my mother move house a few years ago, I unpacked her collection of Songbooks, and spent a happy hour or two reading through them.  I estimate it as at least 2/3 complete and has a lot of low numbers.  The selection of what songs are included each year is its own little commentary on the political context.  One day I want to write that up (or to read someone else doing so ...)



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