Song of the Day #759: ‘On My Own’ – Frances Ruffelle

Les Miserables was the first musical cast recording I ever owned. The soundtrack was given to me by my girlfriend in our senior year of high school. She was a musical theater type herself — the lead actress in all of our school plays — and I suppose she wanted me to better appreciate her world.

I never became much of a drama kid — backstage work and a bit part in The Man Who Came to Dinner pretty much covered it — but I did wear out my cassette of Les Miserables (recorded by the London cast, a very important distinction according to my girlfriend).

I’d love to see this play onstage. It’s still running in London, making it the longest-running musical in history. It’s third among Broadway shows but closed there in 2003. The soundtrack itself is very stirring and that’s without the spectacle of a greased-up band of Brits chasing each other around in rags.

‘I Dreamed a Dream’ and ‘Bring Him Home’ are probably the most famous songs from this musical, the former even more so now thanks to Susan Boyle. But I’ve always been partial to ‘On My Own,’ the sad ballad of unrequited love performed by Eponine, the young woman who mistreated Cosette as a child then grew to envy her.

Glee‘s Lea Michele performed this song both to audition for the show and within the show in character as Rachel auditioning for the glee club. Whoa, how meta!

And now I’m all alone again,
Nowhere to go, no one to turn to.
Did not want your money sir,
Came out here cuz I was told to.
And now the night is near,
Now I can make believe he’s here.

Sometimes I walk alone at night
When everybody else is sleeping.
I think of him, and then I’m happy
With the company I’m keeping.
The city goes to bed,
And I can live inside my head.

On my own,
Pretending he’s beside me.
All alone,
I walk with him till morning.
Without him,
I feel his arms around me,
And when I lose my way I close my eyes
And he has found me.

In the rain,
The pavement shines like silver.
All the lights
Are misty in the river.
In the darkness,
The trees are full of starlight,
And all I see is him and me for ever and forever.

And I know
It’s only in my mind,
That I’m talking to myself
And not to him.
And although I know that he is blind,
Still I say,
There’s a way for us.

I love him,
But when the night is over,
He is gone,
The river’s just a river.
Without him,
The world around me changes.
The trees are bare and everywhere
The streets are full of strangers.

I love him,
But every day I’m learning,
All my life,
I’ve only been pretending!
Without me,
His world will go on turning,
The world is full of happiness that I have never known!

I love him…
I love him…
I love him…
But only on my own…

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #759: ‘On My Own’ – Frances Ruffelle

  1. Amy says:

    So glad you’re now getting to appreciate all the meta-ness of Glee 😉

    I saw this musical performed by our high school theater troupe at Hillel quite a few years ago (7? 8? who knows?) You would think that seeing a show such as this one done by a high school cast would be almost painful. Quite the contrary – it was probably the show that demonstrated what a distinct league this particular director and his high school stars were in.

    Well, this takes me back, let me tell you:

    Jacob Bichachi had quite a voice for a high school kid, huh? 🙂

    I agree that this is a particularly lovely song, though I’m not partial to the London cast’s recording (Alex and I roll our eyes here)

  2. Amy says:

    and, of course, if we speak of Les Mis, I must share this wonderful moment starring two of my very favorite people, Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel:

  3. pegclifton says:

    Dad and I saw Les Mis in Wash. DC years ago; I remember we thought it was a tad bit long but we loved the show stoppers and continue to enjoy those songs you are featuring today. I agree that the young man from Hillel has a wonderful voice, did he go on to a musical career? Also love that bit with Harris and Segel–funny stuff. BTW, I just read that Harris and his partner are going to be parents of twins. Again, I’m so enjoying this week!

  4. Dana says:

    This is sad, but I can’t even recall if I ever saw Les Mis, though I feel I must have at some point. And I must admit that I’ve never been particularly drawn to the songs from it, though I could watch Harris and Segel do that “Confrontation” number again and again.

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