Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

October Special: “Hadestown” (Hadestown #1)

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Please join me, Bacon friends, on a journey with Hades, Persephone, Orpheus and Eurydice… Hermes tells a mashed-up, modernized tale. It is dark, and brilliant. And also – filled with light. It is just right for October, and always.

“Hadestown” opened on Broadway in March of 2019, receiving 14 Tony nominations and winning 7, including “Best Musical”. I’m obsessed.

The main characters are:

Hermes – narrator, fleet of mind and foot. He intervenes in the story occasionally, yet he never doubts that the Fates are in control (“they was always singin’ in the back of your mind”)

Orpheus – a penniless poet who plays the lyre (the liar?)

Eurydice – a girl who knows hunger, who falls in love with him

Hades – god of the Underworld (warped in his loves) – who believes the workers of Hadestown are “his children” – and subject to his control

Persephone, his wife and goddess of Spring, who leaves Hades each year to bring life and joy to the world. Their relationship is fraught, to say the least.

What happens when Eurydice, the songbird, chooses Hadestown? What happens when Orpheus, the poet and liar/lyre, comes to find her? Can either, possibly, survive? Is there any hope for Hades and Persephone – jaundiced, ill-suited, perhaps – also bound together by Love? And – seasonless – Hope?

***

Today I bring you two versions of the opening number – “Road to Hell” –

 

“Road To Hell”
(from “Hadestown: The Myth. The Musical. (Original Cast Recording)” soundtrack)

[Hermes:]
Once upon a time there was a railroad line
Don’t ask where, brother, don’t ask when
It was a road to hell – no! it was hard times
It was a world of gods and men

[Hermes & company:]
It’s an old song
It’s an old tale from way back when
It’s an old song
But we’re gonna sing it again

[Hermes:]
Now on the road to hell there was a railroad line
And there were three old women all dressed the same
And they was always singin’ in the back of your mind
Everybody meet the fates!

Now on the road to hell there was a railroad station
And a man with feathers on his feet
Who would help you to your final destination
Mr. Hermes – that’s me!

[Hermes & company:]
It’s a sad song
It’s a sad tale, it’s a tragedy
It’s a sad song
But we sing it anyway

[Hermes:]
Now, on the road to hell there was a railroad line
And a lady steppin’ off a train
With a suitcase full of summertime
Persephone, by name

There was a railroad line on the road to hell
There was a young man down on a bended knee
And brother, thus begins the tale
Of Orpheus and Eurydice!

[Hermes & company:]
It’s a love song
It’s a tale of a love that never dies
It’s a love song
About someone who tries…

5 Comments

  1. So glad art continues to persevere – thanks for sharing this!

  2. One of my obsessions! Such a great version of the story: we know the ending of the story and yet we sing (listen to, tell) it again and and again… because it makes us feel. Thanks for reminding of it this morning!

  3. A provocative way to start a Wednesday morning! Have always been fascinated with this story and it’s many dichotomies.

  4. Jennifer, thank you for sharing a litle piece of New York. I so miss that city and its many small and hidden delights. You brighten so many of my days, I hope you know how much many of us look so forward to Bacon.

  5. first song, first line, first hum = hooked.

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