THE SATURDAY LIST: My Favourite TITANIC Songs

TITANIC

Above: The playbill for the original Broadway production of TITANIC

People often ask what one’s favourite song from a show is. When it comes to Maury Yeston and Peter Stone’s Titanic, this is a really difficult topic because so much of the score is wonderful, so I’ll cheat a little and answer it this way…

1. Favourite Song i.t.o. Lyrics

“There She Is”: What I love about this lyric is how it manages to create an image of the ship through words. It’s more than just the choice of words though; it’s about the the choice of words with specific vowel and consonant sounds that help to establish not only the size of the ship but also the feeling of seeing it, without anyone actually seeing it at all. This short piece in the mammoth opening sequence is more effective than any of the establishing shots of the same ship in a certain film that premiered around the same time as this show….

2. Favourite Song i.t.o. Tracks on the OBCR

“Hymn/The Latest Rag:The build in this number is invigorating; the contrast between the hymn and the rag is so much fun; and the counterpoint in the later section of the rag is thrilling.

3. Favourite Song i.t.o. Character Definition

“The Proposal/The Night Was Alive”: While the former section further extends the character of Barret, the latter section draws such a vivid picture of Harold Bride that he becomes one of the most memorable characters in the show.

4. Favourite Song i.t.o. Marriage of Lyric to Music

“No Moon”: I think this song captures the contradictory restless-calm mood of the sequence in which it appears perfectly.

5. Favourite Song i.t.o. Music

“The Collision”: I love how such an understated piece of music communicates such a monumental moment in the narrative. The effect is chilling.

6. Favourite Song i.t.o. Scene Structure

The “To the Lifeboats” sequence from “Getting in the Lifeboat” through “We’ll Meet Tomorrow”: I love how this zooms in and out of the chorus and from character to character, bringing to the fore some of the musical themes from earlier in the show and ending in a unified anthem that makes everyone on the ship equal, at least in terms of the experience in the midst of which they are all caught.

That’s about as close as I am going to get to choosing a favourite song in this show! These days, I find myself returning to my cast album of the stage score -snippets of which you can hear in the playlist below – rather than the film. It’s a moving piece of musical theatre, from the opening sequence to the haunting contra-punctual duet mentioned above “The Proposal/The Night Was Alive”, from the exquisitely structured sequence at the end of the first act (where the ship hits the iceberg) to the chilling lifeboat sequence that climaxes with the stirring anthem, “We’ll Meet Tomorrow”. And any of these is many times better than “My Heart Will Go On”…

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6 Responses to THE SATURDAY LIST: My Favourite TITANIC Songs

  1. Anne Breslin says:

    My favorite show. I’ve done it twice!

  2. Kyle Kepulis says:

    No love for “The Blame”? All your choices are fantastic, too, though. I also have a fondness for “Barrett’s Song” and “Lady’s Maid”.

  3. Anne Slovin says:

    “I’ll be coming back to you, Darlene…”

  4. Janet Kohler Dueweke says:

    I remember seeing this at the Kennedy Center several years back – such a very pleasant surprise.

  5. David Fick says:

    I’m glad to see other fans of the show commenting here!

    Kyle, on “”The Blame”: I once wrote a blog on the lyrics of Titanic, in which I wrote particularly about the problems I have with this number. Here is the relevant extract from that piece.

    “The Blame” get the lyrics right and much of the song’s musical composition supports what is going on – but it’s ultimately not specific enough throughout when it comes to the music. Because the song tries to stick too tightly to a structural pattern, each character ends up repeating blocks of melody established by another character. This could be used to great effect, but in this case it remains a proposal that hasn’t really been fleshed out in the song itself. It’s as if dialogue that existed between the characters was planted onto an established composition, without any thought as to whether the music matched up perfectly with what each specific character was saying and feeling in every moment in the song, so characters who are facing off in this scene sound like they’re agreeing at times or sound less connected emotionally than they should be. Basically, the music doesn’t completely fulfill its task in conveying what’s going on dramatically in the scene in a specific and complex fashion in certain parts of this song.

  6. Ana-Brit Asplen says:

    Had the music stuck in my head earlier today! My college did it this past fall and I did followspot for it. Had to watch it 18 times in three weeks…

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