Friday, June 13, 2008

20 Great Broadway Songs of the Past 10 Years: “This Is Not Over Yet”

While it was unjust, the real tragedy was not that Parade closed after only eighty-four performances. The real tragedy is that it will have taken ten years for a second Jason Robert Brown show to have made it to Broadway when 13 opens this fall (and no, Urban Cowboy doesn’t count).

Here’s another one of those great scores loaded with genius songwriting, ripe with emotion and intelligence. My favorite song of the bunch, though, was aired on the Tonys telecast, “This Is Not Over Yet.” I’ve often said that if I was magically gifted with a beautiful singing voice, I’d sing “This is Not Over Yet” first.

Lyrically, I love it for its intelligent use of rhyme. Jason Robert Brown writes songs where songs don’t rhyme for rhyme’s sake, but the lyrics works together with the music to propel the ideas forward. Look at the section:

Tell my uncle not to worry!
Tell the Reaper not to hurry!
Make the hangman stop his drumming
‘Cause I’m coming into town to win the day!
Somehow I haven’t with my scheming,
Screwed things up beyond redeeming,
And we’re finally on our way!

When he uses internal rhyme to pair drumming with coming, he’s speeding up the pacing of the song, reflecting the hope and excitement building within Leo Frank, furthered by the tempo created by the remaining rhymes and the use of alliteration in the t and s sounds.

Musically, the song soars, rivaling a romantic ballad in the final moments as Lucille comes in. Indeed, it is a song that is both about Leo’s hope and also the newfound love between these two people whose week marriage has only been strengthened by adversity.

Inside the liner notes of the OBCR, there is a note that says a contribution toward the recording was made in memory of Mae Holliday and Chickie Brown. I can’t think of a better way of being memorialized than in the preservation of this amazing, majestic, and powerful score.

the Broadway Mouth
June 13, 2008

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