John Adams


I know it’s crazy, but since I was a little girl my favorite musical was 1776. This is a musical based on our founding fathers, which sounds like it should be a comedy. In 1977 my brother, an avid musical lover,  had the record, yes record, and he would play it all the time. When he wasn’t around I would sneak into his room and borrow the record. Which usually got me into a good amount of trouble.

I loved singing those songs. My favorite character is the portrayal of John Adams.  At one point in a heated debate over Thomas Jefferson’s point of view on slavery, the Southern delegates walks out of congress. Those for independence feel an overwhelming sense of defeat as the final vote to sign the Declaration of Independence is the next day. After a brief time out, Adams composes himself, devises a plan of action to win back the South, and is moved to sing “Is Anybody There”. This song was song with such passion and strength, and the lyrics were all about commitment. At the time, I just liked the excitement and energy of the song. It wasn’t until much later that I understood the value of the lyrics.

Adams:
Is anybody there?
Does anybody care?
Does anybody see what I see?

They want to me to quit; they say
John, give up the fight
Still to England I say
Good night, forever, good night!
For I have crossed the Rubicon
Let the bridge be burned behind me
Come what may, come what may

Commitment!

The croakers all say we’ll rue the day
There’ll be hell to pay in fiery purgatory
Through all the gloom, through all the gloom
I see the rays of ravishing light and glory!

Is anybody there? Does anybody care?
Does anybody see what I see?

I see fireworks! I see the pagaent and
Pomp and parade
I hear the bells ringing out
I hear the cannons roar
I see Americans – all Americans
Free forever more

How quiet, how quiet the chamber is
How silent, how silent the chamber is

Is anybody there? Does anybody care?
Does anybody see what I see?

Ooof right. I mean, well, can’t you feel it? Ooof! Not only has this musical taught  a great deal about John Adams, our founding fathers, and the Declaration of Independence, it also teaches of Attitude, Commitment, Teamwork and Trust. And one interesting aside, this musical was based on the letters of John Adams, Abigail Adams, and Thomas Jefferson.

I’m fairly certain, the songs, and lyrics were not sung by Mr. Adams, or that our founding fathers really sang any of these songs. I do believe that this song captures who Adams was, and his beliefs in commitment.

Happy Fourth of July to you all! Enjoy your holiday, the cooking out, the fireworks, the baseball games, the pool parties, and watching the movie musical of our founding fathers…1776!

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2 responses to “John Adams

  1. Sheila Schultz

    I’ve been a theatre critic for 13 years. I also love the musical – the movie & stage production. No, the historical characters did not sing these songs, but the song writer, Sherman Edwards, is a history buff & did a lot of research. Parts of some songs, selected lyrics, include direct quotes from Adams, Franklin & Jefferson, as well as other characters in the play.

    I hope you’ve had a chance to see the movie of 1776. There are 2 versions – the original is great, however it has many cuts by the producer that were later restored in the Director’s Cut of the movie.

    If you’d like to read a copy of my review, send me your email address & I’ll attach it to an email. BTW, I’m reviewing another version of it in a few weeks.

    P.S., If you get your hands on a copy of the Director’s Cut of 1776, I highly recommend that after watching it, you go ahead and re-watch it with detailed commentary from the director & book writer. You’ll learn a lot about history as well as the musical, as I did.

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