A mini analysis of The Last Five Years

I went on a musical theater tirade to my friend today after she said she hasn’t heard of Jason Robert Browns’ The Last Five Years. After explaining the storyline to her (for those not in the know, the musical looks at the relationship between Cathy Hiatt and Jamie Wellerstein; she tells the story from end to beginning, he tells it from beginning to end, and it’s no secret that they broke up), I got to thinking about the lyrics and noticed the progression of Jamie’s feelings for Cathy  in the songs where he’s addressing her and he mentions his love.

Shiksa Goddess: “I could be in love with someone like you.”

The Schmuel Song: “Have I mentioned today how lucky I am to be in love with you?”

If I Didn’t Believe In You: “If I hadn’t believed in you, I wouldn’t have loved you at all.”

I Could Never Rescue You: “All I could do was love you hard and let you go.”

Other notes:
– In “Shiksa Goddess” and “If I Didn’t Believe In You,” the lines mentioned are the only times that he says “love” in the song.
– The only reason he said “love” a second time (technically, first) in “The Schmuel Song” was because he was telling her a story.
– In “I Could Never Rescue You,” his final goodbye to Cathy, he reiterates that he loved her three times in four lines.
– He says to another woman in his second-to-last song of the show, “And since I have to be in love with someone, since I need to be in love with someone, maybe I could be in love with someone like you…” My heart breaks every time I hear that.
– In the wedding song, neither Cathy nor Jamie actually say the word “love”, which is magnificent and reminds me of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Recuerdo.”

I haven’t given as much thought to Cathy’s songs, I’ll admit. Maybe when I’m procrastinating on my History 406 project (I’m doing a full analysis of Frank Wildhorn’s The Civil War…yeah, I hadn’t heard of it either), I’ll get to it from her point of view.


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