4.30.2007

I am warning you Javert, I'm a stronger man by far

It's pretty hard to post one song from Les Misérables without giving it some context. This song is a confrontation between Javert (police inspector) and Jean Valjean (the main character of this story). Valjean did some time in a chain gang for stealing bread, Javert was his primary captor. Eventually he was paroled, but skipped out on it in order to make a living. In the process, his life is changed by God and he becomes a really really good guy. At this point in the story, Valjean has just revealed himself in because an innocent man is about to be imprisoned for his crime (mistaken identity). BUT there's more! Valjean promises a dying woman that he'll take care of her child. That's when Javert catches up with him and we have this confrontation. Two minutes into this song there's a switcheroo - Javert continues to direct his words to Valjean, but Valjean directs his to the dying woman (Fantine).

"Confrontation" has always been my favorite song in the musical, which, until recently i had not listened to in about 10 years. Something about listening to the Arcade Fire's Neon Bible made me think about these songs and I went out and bought the CD. The music is a bit dated, but the songs are as compelling as they ever were. I listened to my tape as a teenager over and over and over. After 10 years i still had much of it memorized.

Valjean eventually ends up saving Javert's life, some 15 or 20 years later. Javert, who's life has been driven by rules and order and strong black and whites, has up till then believed that a man cannot change his ways - he's hunted Valjean his entire life. He kills himself, singing "There is nothing on earth that we share, it is either Valjean or Javert."

True fans of the musical will hate my synopsis. Sorry. It's absolutely inadequate but it serves its purpose.

Les Misérables - Confrontation (Javert / Valjean)

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