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  • Writer's pictureSimon Rushby

One Song Glory from Rent by Jonathan Larson

Updated: Feb 5, 2021

#listeneveryday 3 Feb 2021

Jonathan Larson's musical Rent premiered in New York in 1996 and ran on Broadway for 12 years, winning numerous awards. Loosely based on Puccini's opera La Bohème, it tells the story of impoverished, struggling young artists living in New York in the 1980s. A big focus of the story is that many of the leading characters have AIDS.

Roger Davis is a singer-songwriter who contracted AIDS from his last girlfriend (who took her own life) and dreams of having a hit song, a legacy before he dies. One Song Glory occurs early in the show and lets us into Roger's mind, his incessant repeating of the word 'glory' revealing his obsession with making a success of himself and his fear of being forgotten when he dies.

Though it feels and sounds like a rock song, the fractured lyrics and contrasting emotions of the song make it more like a heartfelt, stream-of consciousness plea from the 'pretty boy front man who wasted opportunity'. The song never quite ends - he gets interrupted from his monologue by the unexpected arrival of Mimi, a neighbour, in one of the close nods to Puccini's opera that pepper the plot.

Tragically, Jonathan Larson never got to see his show open. On the morning of its first preview performance, he died suddenly and unexpectedly from an undiagnosed heart condition.

More to listen to

Seasons of Love - the famous signature song of Rent. This performance is from the film version, released in 2005 and featuring Idina Menzel, who began her stellar career with this show.

Light my Candle - Mimi and Roger's first meeting, which follows straight on from One Song Glory. Mimi flirts with Roger, but he is finding it hard to forget about his girlfriend who died.

Che Gelida Manina - Rudolfo's aria to Mimi, who he has just met, in Puccini's La Bohème. There are direct parallels between this scene and Roger and Mimi's meeting in Rent - not least how cold she appears to be.

A new #listeneveryday post is published every weekday! Comment below or tweet @SimonRushby with your suggestions for future music.

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