Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Cast Album Discoveries: The Memory Show

I've been alternating the albums in my Top 150 Albums By Women project with cast albums, so I'll share my favorite five from these as I listen to them as well. 

I knew absolutely nothing about The Memory Show when it got added to my rotation. I have a giant list of musicals I don't know and choose from them at random when I need a new one to listen to. Turns out, this is a two-woman musical about a mother and daughter working through their troubled relationship after the mother is diagnosed with Alzheimer's. The music is often very discordant and jarring, and the mother's songs are written in a range that make her often very unpleasant to listen to, but that doesn't necessarily mean I didn't like it. The abrasive sound of many of these songs matches the tone of the lyrics and, I presume, the tone of the show's book as well. Here were my top five from this cast album.

5. When My Mother Dies

One of the more upbeat tunes on the album, which is kind of interesting given that it's a laundry list of all the things the daughter needs to take care of when her mother dies. I find the fairly lighthearted vibe of the song interesting in contrast to the lyrics, and then the transition to a more serious tone in the latter half of the song is very moving.

4. Lullaby

This one has gone in bursts for me. At first I was bored by it, then I was very moved by it, and now I can feel it moving back to boredom, but I still like it enough to put it in the top five. I like the simplicity of the lyrics. It closes out the show, with the daughter acknowledging she can't do much to soothe her mother in her final days, but she can give her a home and sing her to sleep with a lullaby. Very pretty.

3. I'm On To Her Now

The least pleasant to listen to of these top five, but the lyrics are devastating -- a window into the fear and paranoia felt by the mother, who is certain that her doctor and her daughter are conspiring to make her think she's crazy so they can lock her up somewhere and take her things. It's a dark and unsettling song.

2. Yom Kippur

A flashback song that goes back to the daughter's memories of growing up with her mom. The first part of the song is a dialogue between the two of them, and the second half is just the daughter singing about how she loves the idea that Yom Kippur lets you change, start over, do something new and be a better person, and how disappointed she is that her mother is "still the same crappy person." I find it very moving.

1. You Remember Him Wrong

The only real duet between the two characters, this song is probably my favorite use of the musical dissonance in this show. The harshness of the chords and the tunes between the two characters (as they sing about their contrasting memories of the mother's now-dead husband) really helps to exacerbate the fact that they don't connect on any level. It's just an interesting one to listen to, and it didn't fade at all the more I listened to it.