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Les Miserables variant lyrics
Posted by darquegk 2013-01-21 11:15:35


I found an old Microsoft Word document of the Les Miserables libretto, probably transcribed from the hardback book with its minimal stage directions. It has a few (but very few) of the alternate lyrics that have cropped up in revisions and revivals through the years noted, but not too many.

Does anyone know off the top of their heads some of the changed/alternate lyrics, or any Web compendium that lists all the changes?

It took me quite a while to track down the only one that stuck in my head, Gavroche's alternate "political" lyrics that replace the "Watch out for old Thenardier" verse. Was this one in any iteration of the stage show, or just the film? While it robs a bit of buildup to the Thenardier rise-and-fall subplot, it fixes a fairly large plot point that no one ever establishes the revolution's background and context, hence the "Is this about the French Revolution" question that always gets asked.

There was a time we killed the king
We tried to change the world too fast
Now we've got another king
And he's no better then the last
This is the land that fought for liberty
Now when we fight we fight for bread
Here is the thing about equality
Everyone's equal when they're dead
Take your place
Take your chance
Vive la France
Vive la France!

Les Miserables variant lyrics
Posted by michellek45 2013-01-21 13:00:17


There are a lot of little random lyric-changes for the movie; that is one of them. The scene when Javert first arrives in Montreuil-Sur-Mer and he has the exchange with Valjean that starts with "Please know me as Javert" is also new to the movie. Then there's the entire cutting of the song "I Saw Him Once," which only appears on the OLC recording. Get a copy of that recording and one of the 25th anniversary cast; you'll notice some changes.

Les Miserables variant lyrics
Posted by LizzieCurry 2013-01-21 13:27:08


Fantine's Arrest has gone through numerous changes, some which started with the Australian revival tour (I think) -- Bamatabois says something about calling her an ugly slut -- and then there's that annoying "for certain as the eagle flies" line that Enjolras started singing in the West End sometime in 2006ish.

Les Miserables variant lyrics
Posted by RENT's_Awakening 2013-01-21 15:15:54


I like keeping track of the interchangeable Javert lyrics in Stars:

"Fallen from God, fallen from Grace" is what is usually sung, but the libretto has always said grace both times.

"And so it has been, for so it is written" is usually sung "And so it must be" although the libretto has always said the former.

And of course, although the libretto has always said "One more day til revolution" most Javerts insist on singing "One day more til revolution"

^things I spent a lot of time thinking about when I played the role

Les Miserables variant lyrics
Posted by darquegk 2013-01-21 15:21:36


Who originated the Colette/Cosette bit? Was it Gary Beach in the Broadway revival? I know it's been around for a long time before the film made it somewhat permanent by recording it.

Les Miserables variant lyrics
Posted by LizzieCurry 2013-01-21 15:43:23


I think it started with Nick Wyman during the 10th anniversary on Broadway.

Les Miserables variant lyrics
Posted by CATSNYrevival 2013-01-21 16:16:24


^The 25th Anniversary tour recording preserved that bit before the film did.

Les Miserables variant lyrics
Posted by chewy5000 2013-01-21 18:18:58


Not lyrical, but what about the fact that every single actor who plays Javert tries to come up with a completely original rhythm for his bit in the Prologue?

Les Miserables variant lyrics
Posted by MikeInTheDistrict 2013-01-21 18:50:23


^ Probably because Javert's lines are so awkward and scan so poorly. It's always a battle trying to make those lines sound like they should even be there. "And I am Javert" is pretty unsalvagable, IMO.

Les Miserables variant lyrics
Posted by My Oh My 2013-01-21 19:33:56


"I like keeping track of the interchangeable Javert lyrics in Stars:

"Fallen from God, fallen from Grace" is what is usually sung, but the libretto has always said grace both times.

"And so it has been, for so it is written" is usually sung "And so it must be" although the libretto has always said the former.

And of course, although the libretto has always said "One more day til revolution" most Javerts insist on singing "One day more til revolution"

^things I spent a lot of time thinking about when I played the role."


In my experience, it's the other way around. And I have 25+ years of obsessive, nit-picky experiences with this musical, LOL. But my experience isn't everyone else's, so not saying you're wrong either.

But yeah, complete opposite, as far as I know. Most of what you said is the norm is associated with Quast's turn as Javert.

Les Miserables variant lyrics
Posted by My Oh My 2013-01-21 19:49:20


Some of my favorite variant lyrics that have become standard. And for the better, to me, at least:

1. "Epilogue"

"Take my hand and lead me to salvation."

became

"Take my hand, I'll lead you to salvation."

Why it's better:

The former makes it seem Fantine and Eponine have been stuck in limbo and are relying on Valjean's croaking to finally lead them towards the light.

The superior latter gives the impression they appear to lead the freshly croaked Valjean to the big spaghetti monster in the sky who lives in a castle on a cloud. I'm kidding, but you know what I mean.

2. "Eponine's Errand"

Gavroche: "...have no fear. Don't you worry auntie dear, you can always find me here."

became

Gavroche: "...have no fear; you can always find me here."

Why it's better:

The former is too wordy and the auntie bit sounds tacked on and randomly cutesy, making us lose sight of the very important thing that has just occurred: Gavroche becoming acquainted with Javert well enough to recognize and reveal him later on in the play.

The latter gets the job done with minimal distraction and there isn't the tiring insistence on making Gavroche as cutesy as humanly possible. And it reduces the show's running time by discarding random excesses, something that is never a bad thing.

By the way, that change isn't so much variant lyrics but a welcomed cut from the infamous first round of cuts done on Broadway in order to avoid musician overtime costs.

There are more but I need to pry myself away from the 'puter and get some things done. I've been a complete bum this three-day weekend. =)



Les Miserables variant lyrics
Posted by GlindatheGood22 2013-01-21 21:58:29


There's another variation in the epilogue. When Cosette comes in Valjean sometimes sings:

"It's the story of those/one who always loved you
your mother gave her life for you and gave you to my keeping"

and other times:

"It's the story of one who turned from hating
a man who only learned to love when you were in his keeping."

I believe the movie uses the second version. Not sure which I think is better.

Les Miserables variant lyrics
Posted by CATSNYrevival 2013-01-21 22:44:17


Was it ever really "Take my hand and lead me to salvation?"

That doesn't even make sense to me. It sounds like something from that other thread where we posted about misheard lyrics.

Les Miserables variant lyrics
Posted by darquegk 2013-01-21 22:53:27


Yeah- early published sheet music had it, and derivative works like licensed choral medleys uses AND instead of I'LL still

Les Miserables variant lyrics
Posted by My Oh My 2013-01-22 00:21:51


Another one:

3. "On My Own"

"Without me, his world would go on turning. The world is full of happiness that I have never known!"

became

"Without me, his world would go on turning--a world that's full of happiness that I have never known!"

Why it's better:

The former makes a character--Eponine--who is often said to be nothing short of a whiner, come across more like exactly just that.

The latter connects the seemingly random lack of happiness bit with Marius' zero amount of romantic love for her and his being perfectly OK with that. Eponine, in the play at least, is accustomed to surviving on the streets and it's all she knows, so to give the impression she thinks it stinks independently of her issues with Marius doesn't seem too believable and is rather cloying. Furthermore, she has just shouted at us that she has "only been preeeeteeending!" The latter completes that thought with her realization that although she has the street smarts that enables her to survive, she never knew true love and happiness as she does with Marius, and the contrast makes everything else seem like a big lie. Yes, all of that from changing "the world" to "a world." It's in the connection and continuity. The former comes across like a randomly independent complaint that comes out only after she fails to woo the dude Marius. The latter continues her story of being knee deep in her delusions; a survival tactic that has worked up until that point.

Of course, people aren't limited to only what I've written above, and most people don't care what she really means or what some dude on the internet says, and I'm sure that's just another sad, weepy, depressing number that has become the sad emo girl's anthem of woe.

I know this because people always give me contorted looks when I say Eponine's story is more than the supposed love triangle thing and Cosette some rich bitch that Mme. T should have stomped on and cooked into a meat pie, or something. Oops.

Les Miserables variant lyrics
Posted by eatlasagna 2013-01-22 01:09:00


how about... Fantine at the end sings "you raised my child with love" was changed to "you raised my child in love"...

i don't know which i like better.. but i lean towards the latter... just sounds like he surrounded her in love rather then just giving it to her... i doubt that makes sense but i can't really explain why.. ha... even though i like "in love" rather than "with love"

Les Miserables variant lyrics
Posted by michellek45 2013-01-22 02:12:16


I have always hated the "Take my hand and lead me to salvation" line. Like My Oh My says, it implies that Fantine and Eponine have just been chilling, waiting to get to the good part of being dead until Valjean comes around. Which makes zero sense for Eponine- she doesn't even know the guy, what is she doing waiting around for him? At least with the other variant you can make it seem like the fact she's there at all is because of his connection for Marius, and she's doing Marius a favor by looking after his "father."

As for the variant GlindaTheGood brought up, I definitely prefer the "It's the story of those who always loved you..." This one puts the emphasis on Cosette, while the other puts it on Valjean. I don't think Valjean's the kind of guy to make his life story about himself; he'd rather Cosette know about Fantine's contributions to her life than his own, and, in the book at least, he tends to underplay the affect he's had on her.

Les Miserables variant lyrics
Posted by My Oh My 2013-01-22 02:45:34


I prefer "in love," too, but I can't recall it ever being "with love." But that's my experience. I don't doubt you've heard different actors do variations of that bit.

That reminds me, and it's sort of off-topic so sorry, but it kills me every time someone says that Eponine's appearance at the end of the stage version makes no sense and they always use Valjean's non-relationship with Eponine as rationale. Some of the more loopy conspiracy theorists claim it's an evil detail strategically tacked on courtesy of supposed Cosette haters Nunn and Caird, that work in concert with the demonically darkened dress of Cosette to ERASE her and to highlight Eponine. And people call me crazy?

Anyway, not saying the Bishop at the end doesn't work. In fact, it works beautifully and I'm not at all upset about that detail in the film. But I stop short of saying the stage version having Eponine up there being something the film corrected and for one very obvious reason that seems to have escaped most people: the power of love, in its various forms, is a recurring theme in the show and it saves the day on more than one occasion, even among all the injustice and tragedy.

We see Valjean's love for himself make him successful in life and die a man of faith who touched many people the same way one once touched him; we see the rescuing of a little girl in a terrible situation and raised in love; we see it in the hopes, dreams, and resolve of the students and civilians in their fight for a better tomorrow; we see it in the unrequited love of a girl who gives her life for someone who is blind to feelings that prove too powerful for her; it is loud and clear in the degradation and ultimate death of a mother who goes the extra mile for her daughter; and it's certainly there in an inspector's warped idea of what he's all about, that it kills him when it turns against him and reality kicks in. It's more affecting in Les Mis than in other stories because of the extreme situation they are saturated in and, in the end, a simple act of love is all it takes to affect great strides of progress in the lives of so many.

Eponine's story certainly qualifies as one of extreme sacrifice in the name of love, so having her there in one of Marius' most important moments makes perfect sense, especially with how Valjean, Fantine, and she share the same musical theme, all during moments where they naively slip into a reverie as only someone saturated in misery and in danger of losing their innocence, can and would, in place of growing hateful and bitter, adding to the misery around them. It plays as Valjean is released from prison and wanders in the free world somehow hopeful that it will love him back even if it never has; Fantine uses it at the very brink of death, as she deliriously pictures her Cosette before her in happier days; and Eponine wanders the streets on the eve of the insurrection happy with the company she's keeping in her head.

It all ties together beautifully at the end.

Just thinking about the Bishop there at the finale chokes me up, and with Colm in the role, well, perfection. It's a change that is easier to understand right off the bat, but Eponine's presence isn't as random and senseless a thing in the stage version as people claim.

Les Miserables variant lyrics
Posted by michellek45 2013-01-22 03:16:47


I always viewed Eponine's presence in the epilogue as her being a sort of "guardian angel" to Marius, that she's made peace with his love for Cosette and that she genuinely wishes him happiness. It would make even more sense for them to include her in the film since, from DYHTPS on, she does act as Marius' physical guardian angel. She's always there, trailing just a few steps behind him, or waiting on the edge of the shadows. If you watch, you'll see that for almost every frame of Marius, there's one of Eponine. Going more off-topic, I think it's interesting that she is the one character in the story who is redeemed through a love that is not returned, unless you want to count Grantaire, and her love is also the one that requires the biggest sacrifice. She literally gives her life for him. I suppose you could make the same argument for Fantine and Cosette, but at least Fantine is doing it for someone who already loves her; Eponine does it expecting nothing in return, other than to see Marius survive the barricades.

Fantine and Valjean's tether of hope in their darkest moments is Cosette, who loves them both very much. I've always sort of viewed Eponine and Valjean as opposite outcomes of the same situation: the poverty of their youths, the ruin of them by outside forces (Valjean by prison and Eponine by her parents), the lack of hope or love in their lives. Valjean is saved through the Bishop and later Cosette, while Eponine, I think, has to "save" herself. She certainly doesn't save her physical body, but her soul, which Hugo seems more concerned with, is absolutely redeemed in her final act of throwing herself in front of the musket to keep Marius alive. I do wish Hugo would have given us more internal analysis of her like he does for the other characters, because I would love to see what he would write at that moment, when she decides that Marius' life is more important than her own. Did she do it because she felt guilty for leading him to the barricades in the first place? Or because she realized her plan of them dying together was inane and illogical? Or because she simply could not bear to see him die? I think part of the reason I like Eponine so much is because her motivations aren't as clear or straightforward as the other characters'.

Les Miserables variant lyrics
Posted by gypsy101 2013-01-22 03:36:26


I liked the original opening to On My Own.
"And now I'm all alone again, nowhere to go, no one to turn to.
I did not want your money sir, I came out her 'cause I was told to."
The change makes her so whiney.
"And now I'm all alone again, nowhere to turn, no one to go to.
Without a home, without a friend, without a face to say hello to."
I always felt like the original gave her a quiet dignity. She's lived a hard life, why is this old man busying himself with giving her money?
Although, of course, cabaret singers would never have appreciated singing the original lyric.

Les Miserables variant lyrics
Posted by darquegk 2013-01-22 13:57:32


Regarding the rhythms of the Prologue, a fair number of the recitative rhythms are taken freely throughout as a conscious creative choice. Even "Who Am I/One Day More" is given a flexible rhythm primarily to cover the fact that the rhythm as written on paper is almost impossible to sing, calling for Valjean to sing the words "second time, one day more" within the space of one beat, instead of two and a half as is almost CONSTANTLY performed.

Les Miserables variant lyrics
Posted by darquegk 2013-01-22 14:00:46


One more variant lyric that I can't believe I forgot- Instead of Thenardier's Inn recitative ending with "And their money's good as yours!" delivered to the audience with a wink according to the 2002 revival score, the film ends it with "And they crawl out on all fours!" I like this change, because I think that the lyric is less awkward, with a clever bit of wordplay on the "homing pigeons flying" image, but it gets rid of a slightly awkward bit of direct address to the audience- why, even in a Brechtian sense, would Thenardier compare the audience to his thugs?