It Finds Me When I Need It

January 24, 2019

Like many actors, I appreciate having a personal soundtrack that I listen to before the show, usually when I making my way to the theatre. Sometimes the songs are meant to excite me, get my blood pumping, leave me ready to tear down walls. Other times, it helps reframe my mind more into the head space of my character. And there’s the time where my preshow soundtrack was vocal warmups, because I was doing a musical and that scared the bejeezus out of me.

When I am paralyzed with doubt shortly before starting a rehearsal – which always, always happens – Maegan reminds me that I should compile my playlist. Sometimes, I’m able to do that pretty quickly. I can identify songs that speak to me in a way that feels right for the show. It helps me get over the paralysis and move on to doing the work I need to do before that first rehearsal (or else this will surely be the one where I’m found out to be a fraud).

Sometimes, though, that playlist won’t materialize. I’ll think about it (but I won’t brood over it), but I’m just not able to put together a list of three to five songs that work. Such a simple task, and yet…

And then, at some point in the process, be it early on or (like for Glass) late in the game, I realize that I’ve been listening to the same songs between home and work. It happened last night, as I once again put on the Red Hot Chili Peppers. As I was singing along (incredibly well, mind you, totally in tune and on key), I listened to the words. “Holy crap”, said I, “that sounds like Tom.” To me, that is, it sounds like Tom. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else, but it does to me, and it clicked at that moment. Here are some of the lyrics that jumped out:

Standing in line to see the show tonight
And there’s a light on, heavy glow
By the way I tried to say
I’d be there waiting for
Dani the girl is singing songs to me
Beneath the marquee

– “By the Way”, Red Hot Chili Peppers

Can’t stop, addicted to the shindig
Chop Top, he says I’m gonna win big
Choose not a life of imitation
Distant cousin to the reservation
The world I love, the tears I drop
To be part of the wave, can’t stop
Ever wonder if it’s all for you?
The world I love, the trains I hop
To be part of the wave, can’t stop
Come and tell me when it’s time to

– “Can’t Stop”, Red Hot Chili Peppers