Saturday, February 10, 2007

On My Own

Lea Salonga as Eponine (Tenth Anniversary Concert, London, 1995) during On My Own

While I had read the book a couple of years earlier, the song On My Own was the first thing I ever heard from - or about - the musical production of Les Misérables. So I thought it would be suitable to start with an entry about that song!

I remember watching a science program on TV (maybe in 1989?) and they talked about the special effects used in the London musicals - including the boat and the candle sticks in The Phantom of the Opera. They also talked about sound effects, and when doing that they showed Eponine singing On My Own. I loved the song right away!

A year or so later it became quite popular, although I’m not sure what brought that one really - it seemed everyone (at least in my generation) was very familiar with this song, although most of us had never seen the musical. I can only guess that it was the Swedish production of Les Misérables that brought on the interest here as well (even for the English version).
There are a couple of interesting facts concerning this song. First of all, when the musical was translated from English to French, they did some major changes. One of them being that the song L’Air de la Misere sung by Fantine, became Eponine’s On My Own, with completely new lyrics!

Also, the beginning of the English version was changed when it moved to Broadway.

And now I’m all alone again
Nowhere to turn, no one to go to
I did not want your money, sir,
I came out here ‘cos I was told to

And now I’m all alone again
Nowhere to turn, no one to go to
Without a home, without a friend
Without a face to say hello to

The big difference here is that the first version connects to Eponine’s meeting with Jean Valjean (when she’s been sent to give a letter to Cosette from Marius), while the second version makes the song work completely on it’s own. You can hear it, and know nothing of Les Misérables, and still completely understand the song.

The first version adds a bit of extra understanding to Eponine’s anger and disappointment, as she‘s not only upset about Marius preferring Cosette to her, but the fact that although she‘s chosen to risk her life being on the barricade (for him), he has simply sent her off to as a messenger to Cosette. Obviously, even though she does go to deliver the letter, she finds the whole thing very embarrassing, especially when she is caught by Jean Valjean, and made to give the letter to him instead. She didn’t come as a beggar - she came to give Cosette a letter!

The second version possibly adds some more sadness to the song though, as this is the only time we hear Eponine state she doesn’t have a home anymore. Apparently, by socializing with Marius, and then ruining her father’s attempt to rob Jean Valjean, Eponine is no longer welcomed at her parents’ house. She gave up everything for Marius, and this song truly shows how lonely Eponine is. (Yet it’s contains many other emotions as well).

Apart from those two lines that were changed, the two versions are pretty much identical. I think I prefer the first one, because I really LIKED those lines they changed, but as a separate song it works so much better without them, so I can understand why they changed them. Like I said, it does also slightly sense the theme of the song a bit.

But no matter what version, I think this is a really wonderful song - one of my big favourites from Les Misérables! For sure one of the most beauitful ballads ever written!


Anonymous Dakota said...

cool info about On My Own!
I'm looking forward to read more Les Misérables related stuff here in your blog! :)


P.S. what font did you use for the On My Own graphic?

February 10, 2007 11:57 PM  
Blogger The Darkest Night said...

Thanks Dakota!
I'm really glad you enjoyed it!

Feel free to post your own comments to "On My Own" here too :)

I think the font I used for this graphic was "Vivaldi"

February 11, 2007 2:11 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

VERY interested reading! :D I'm sure this blog will be a sucess!!!

February 11, 2007 1:52 PM  
Blogger The Darkest Night said...

Thanks a lot Jessica! :)

I hope so!

I will try to be as active as I can here... I've already decided about my next entry.. just have to find the time to write it *lol*

February 12, 2007 12:46 AM  

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