“I Believe” (from “The Book Of Mormon”) – Amazon Advent Calendar day 16

Album Art

I Believe [Explicit]

Andrew Rennells & Ensemble

The Book Of Mormon

Genre: Broadway

As I write this, I’m watching a nice little special on Turner Classic Movies about holiday films. Famous people (Chevy Chase, Chazz Palminteri), once-famous people (the guy who played the mean kid in “A Christmas Story,” the woman who played Zuzu in “It’s A Wonderful Life), and a bunch of writers (here as a livelier alternative to just cutting to a screenshot of a relevant Wikipedia page when some facts need to be presented) share stories about their favorite flicks.

Many of these stories begin with cozy remembrances of the first times they saw “Miracle On 34th Street” or “Holiday Inn,” and how closely they associate those movies with childhood Christmases with the family, etc.

Lovely. And it makes me wonder how we’ll be telling these tales in the future.

“So I’m on a usenet newsgroup and someone is talking about this amazingly funny cartoon where Jesus fights Santa. It was such a long thread that I upgraded to the latest version of Netscape, downloaded the right video codec, shut down my Mac LC and restarted it, and then, at 2 or 3 AM when I knew that server load would be low and I’d have plenty of downstream bandwidth, I dialed my SLIP server, typed the right address into the client, and watched ‘The Spirit Of Christmas’ by Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

“My browser kept locking up partway through, and I had to restart three or four times and keep playing with Conflict Catcher before I figured out what was making the plugin unhappy. And I think I was getting barely any throughput, so even when it worked, it was pretty blocky. But I posted a question to the Comics and Animation forum on Compuserve and somebody was able to tell me how the last thirty seconds ended.

“It was the best Christmas ever. Right from the moment when Jesus called Santa a ‘****ing pussy’.”

I look forward to telling that story into a camera some day when I’m in my Sixties.

You might not like “South Park” — even I get grossed-out and offended by some episodes — but man, you can’t deny Parker & Stone’s talent and work ethic. By the time I heard that they were about to open a Broadway musical, I thought “Sure. Why the hell not?”

In fact, nothing they ever wrote into any episode — not even the one where Wendy gets breast implants — offended and hurt me as much as their unconscionable decision to write a show that’s brilliantly funny, put one of the best numbers from the whole show into the Tony Awards telecast, regularly sell the endlessly-playable cast album for next to nothing…and ensure that tickets would be unaffordable and completely unobtainable.

Oh, for cripes’ sake. I’ve been sitting here and sulking for almost a whole minute! You’re supposed to, you know, assure me that I’m totally right and praise me for being so brave in the face of adversity and then offer me a Drumstick frozen iced treat. Instead, you’re just look away awkwardly.

(sigh) Thanks, nice of you to make the belated effort, but pointing out how many people are involved in staging a musical like “Book Of Mormon” and reminding me that it’s only fair that they be paid a wage commensurate with their value isn’t helping.

I guess I should just soldier on.

Well, the nice thing about tickets I can’t get that are priced above what I can afford is that I needn’t protect myself from spoilers. I bought the album after seeing the Tonys, and then read the libretto so I could actually understand what the songs were about. It’s clear that the producers deserve their success. It’s creative, it’s massively-funny, it doesn’t care about offending people, and yet it hasn’t the slightest intention to offend anybody. They’ve pulled off a great trick: they’ve created a musical that’s critical of certain elements of religion while praising, in a real sense, other elements.

All the while, it has a bright center and a good heart. For $150, I want to leave the theater feeling happy, not as though all is lost, existence is futile, and happiness is a veneer that can only be obtained by the vain, selfish, cynical, and corrupt.

I mean, you’re stepping out of the theater and into Times Square. New York City has already got that stuff covered, you know?

The album is full of great tracks. “I Believe” comes in that pivotal second act moment when our hero, who was thoroughly beaten-down and discouraged and ready to give up, reconnects to his passion and resolve. Yes, he’s singing about utter nonsense, but it’s a bit like watching a little kid twirling and twirling in circles. “It’s pointless,” you think, “but dear God, he does look happier than I’ve felt all year.”

Try or buy “I Believe” from the Amazon MP3 Store. As usual, the link contains my associates code, and anything you buy on Amazon after clicking that link results in my receiving a small kickback in the form of store credits.

But don’t just buy that one track: this week, the whole cast album is on sale. Just five bucks! Five piddling, stinkin’ bucks! Go! Buy it!

5 thoughts on ““I Believe” (from “The Book Of Mormon”) – Amazon Advent Calendar day 16”

  1. Great song if you like blatantly making fun of a group of people and their beliefs! I wouldn’t think that you would find this kind of stuff entertaining. Very disappointed.

  2. Poor Brett seems disappointed by not having his expectations of you validated. I come with no such expectations. I will give this album a try. Thanks, Andy!

  3. @Brett — The impression I got (from the music, from interviews with Parker & Stone, and by the Church’s public reaction to the show) was that they weren’t making fun of a religion as much as they were doing the usual job of satire: create an absurdist version of reality that’s entertaining. All along (they claim) Parker & Stone were confident that the Church would be cool with it.

    But I certainly can respect a reaction to this show that differs from my own.

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