Les Misérables

This week’s #weekendbeads theme is music. I spent some time thinking about what I was going to do before realizing that the answer was right in front of me: for the last few weeks I’ve had the Les Misérables 10th Anniversary Concert CD on our sidetable and the songs playing in my head!

I’ve only seen Les Mis in person three times, but it is by far my favourite musical. Before it finished its run in Toronto years ago, I bought the best ticket I could get (third row, almost centre) so that I could see it one last time. I could see the spit flying from their mouths as they emoted the songs.

The iconic image for the Les Misérables musical is Cosette superimposed over the colours of the French flag. I picked red, white, and blue beads for the flag, but I don’t have a bead to represent Cosette. To be honest, she’s one of my least favourite characters anyway, so I chose to focus more on Jean Valjean, the main protagonist, and a few of my favourite songs.

One of my favourite exchanges is right at the beginning between Valjean and the police inspector, Javert. It’s very emotional and features the first of several great back-and-forth dialogs between the two. I chose the yellow Citrine bead to represent Valjean’s yellow ticket-of-leave that brands him as a criminal and then the Neverending bead to represent the silver that the Bishop gifts to him shortly after, giving him the opportunity to break free of his criminal past (see the exchange between Valjean and Javert in this YouTube clip: Prologue from the 10th Anniversary Concert).

Now bring me prisoner 24601
Your time is up
And your parole’s begun
You know what that means

Yes, it means I’m free

It means you get
Your yellow ticket-of-leave
You are a thief

I stole a loaf of bread

You robbed a house

I broke a window pane
My sister’s child was close to death
And we were starving

You will starve again
Unless you learn the meaning of the law

I know the meaning of those 19 years
A slave of the law

Five years for what you did
The rest because you tried to run
Yes, 24601

My name is Jean Valjean!

And I’m Javert!
Do not forget my name
Do not forget me

The middle of the musical features some of my least-favourite songs (like Castle On a Cloud and pretty much anything featuring Cosette’s one-time caregivers, the Thénardiers) but also one of the anthems of the musical, Do You Hear the People Sing? I chose Love Cage to represent the people longing for their freedom.

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the song of angry men
It is the music of the people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

[Song in concert]

My favourite songs are near the end as the revolution begins. Drink with me captures the students’ sober realization that they might not survive the next day’s battle. I used my Hannibal bead and amber to represent their celebrations, but also added the black glass to represent their melancholy mood as they celebrate one last night with their friends.

Drink with me
To days gone by
Can it be
You fear to die?
Will the world remember you
When you fall?
Could it be your death
Means nothing at all?
Is your life just one more lie?

[Song in concert]

Bring Him Home is beautifully haunting. Jean Valjean prays that Marius will be safe in the battle. Although the gender isn’t quite right, I used the Maternity bead to represent the bond between Valjean and Marius.

He’s like the son I might have known
If God had granted me a son
The summers die
One by one
How soon they fly
On and on
And I am old
And will be gone
Bring him peace
Bring him joy
He is young
He is only a boy
You can take
You can give
Let him be
Let him live

[Song in concert]

One of my favourite songs is Empty Chairs At Empty Tables, Marius’ tribute to his lost friends. It starts fairly quietly and then rises in emotion, hitting a pitch when he realizes that the sacrifices of his friends might be for nothing. I used Dark Soul, Broken Heart, and Love Hurts to capture his broken spirit.

There’s a grief that can’t be spoken
There’s a pain goes on and on
Empty chairs at empty tables
Now my friends are dead and gone

I can hear them now!
The very words that they had sung
Became their last communion
On the lonely barricade
At dawn

Oh my friends, my friends forgive me

That I live and you are gone
There’s a grief that can’t be spoken
There’s a pain goes on and on

Phantom faces at the window
Phantom shadows on the floor
Empty chairs at empty tables
Where my friends will meet no more

Oh my friends, my friends, don’t ask me
What your sacrifice was for
Empty chairs at empty tables
Where my friends will sing no more

[Song in concert]

I hope that you’ve enjoyed my little trip through Les Mis! After I chose it for this bracelet, I realized that it also tied into last week’s theme of books. Although I haven’t read the book that the musical is based on, this has inspired me to read it.

Do you have a favourite song or album that really resonates with you?


    1. Thank you, Susan, it was exciting to find beads that matched the songs. I don’t think that my husband would choose to listen to musicals, either. But he indulges me for Les Mis. He is even going with me to see Colm Wilkinson in December!

  1. Wow, third row centre! That must have been incredible! I’ve only ever sat in the cheap seats for any show, ha ha! What a great theme bracelet! Now I’m singing Empty Chairs at Empty Tables in my head. Such a great musical!

    1. It was incredible, Martha! I figured that it might be my last opportunity to see it, so I wanted to make it worthwhile! :D

  2. Only three times! You’re very lucky,Tracy. Les Miserables does have some of the most beautiful, moving music, I agree. Your bead choices are beautiful and so are your photos of them. There is not enough room on IG to adequately share you passion, and do it justice, as you have on your blog post. I loved reading this and to learn how much it means to you. Thank-you for sharing this with us. I think I will watch the movie version of it tonight, because you have inspired me to enjoy it again!

    1. Thank you Sarah :) Yes, when I started to put together the bracelet I realized that I had more to say than I could really say on Instagram. I was really excited to share this one on Sunday. And I’m still humming the songs days later! :D I have started searching out the DVD of that 10th anniversary concert as I think that they did such a good job of it. And I may also have to find the most recent movie. Surprisingly I have not seen that one!

        1. Aww, is the movie really that bad? I saw a clip of Eddie Redmayne as Marius and he didn’t seem that bad. Although Hugh Jackman didn’t live up to Colm Wilkinson (but it would be very hard to do as well as Colm Wilkinson!)

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