I don’t usually pick a musical as my first choice when headed to the movies. Being honest: more like last resort. But our family went to see The Greatest Showman recently, and WOW! The movie itself was stunning, captivating! The singing fantastic! And the values it presents are powerful, transformational – and true! Fidelity, the intrinsic worth of all people, imagination, and family all take center ring in this fun flick. I will say, however, that the movie, when compared to the actual history of P.T. Barnum, is mostly just fantasy. I guess that should come as no surprise, though. It’s just another (instant) classic Hollywood hoodwink.
But back to the music, written by the highly acclaimed Justin Paul & Benj Pasek. I liked every song, and added the soundtrack to my Spotify immediately. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack on repeat for days now. One song in particular has captivated my attention. It’s the song Never Enough as beautifully sung by alto Loren Allred – who is not the same person as actress Rebecca Ferguson who portrayed singer Jenny Lind, aka Johanna Maria Lind the “Swedish Nightingale”. Again, historically speaking, the movie really does a huge disservice to the person of Jenny Lind. My research indicates she was a remarkable individual with humble beginnings, incredibly selfless and charitable, and a wonderful operatic soprano. I would love to have heard her sing! No doubt it was nothing short of amazing. Never Enough, as sung by Allred, is nothing close to operatic, but it is a moving, thought-provoking song. I’m not going to quote all the lyrics, but as I’ve listened repeatedly to this song, one line leapt above the rest.
“You set off a dream with me…”
It can happen. In an instant. Our words have power to ignite. As the head of my household and father of two great kids (now young adults), I know how a little vision casting can impact the trajectory of a life. As someone who’s made his fair share of mistakes, I also know that a few poorly/hastily chosen words can set off a “dream” that becomes a nightmare. Our words can be the spark to fires raging out of control.
In the movie (spoiler alert), P.T. Barnum sparks unrequited love in the heart of (this fictional version of) Jenny Lind. There’s no stopping it, no quenching it.
Take my hand
Will you share this with me?
‘Cause darling without you
All the shine of a thousand spotlights
All the stars we steal from the night sky
Will never be enough
Never be enough
Towers of gold are still too little
These hands could hold the world but it’ll
Never be enough…”
Never enough. Are there two more potentially dangerous words? Maybe. What if were two words that almost brought my life and family to ruin. They resulted in that never enough feeling taking me to the brink of death itself. In the movie, the result is scandal and financial ruin (almost).
Words can be so incredibly life-giving or life-taking. Don’t be mistaken. Sticks & stones are far less dangerous. This song, while beautiful, is so…hollow. Empty. Tragic. Poignant. Be careful who you set off, whose dreams you ignite. It might cost you everything.
“Those who guard their lips preserve their lives,
but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.”
I’m glad to know the actual Swedish Nightingale didn’t really experience what was portrayed by this movie. I tend to believe the songs she sang and the life she lived were more on the life-giving side. Considering how benevolent she was, that certainly seems to be the case. I hope the dreams she set off resulted in some incredible lives and legacies.