The Jukebox Musical – A Backward Glance

The Jukebox Musical has been in vogue as both stage and film forms long before I was in short trousers and then some. From the earliest staged performance in 1975 of folk singer Harry Chaplin through to the present rapturous response to Carole King’s ‘Beautiful’ – it would seem that the compilation of previous popular songs into a musical score is the way to entertain. Whether it’s guitar in hand like Chaplin or seated at the digital piano as was King’s requite, the Jukebox Musical is a channel of easy entertainment that cites the repertoire of a bygone artist or era. From Abba to the Bee Gees, Elvis to The Four Seasons; they’ve all had their golden oldies translated into a shiny new stage experience where revival is revered.  So what’s your Jukebox Musical favourite? Here’s a couple from my retro repertoire of the Carole King ilk where I look forward to looking back…Jukebox Musical

My Jukebox Musical Favs

‘Beautiful’ relives the surging passion of Carole King as ‘’You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman’’ bubbles to the surface from 1967. Originally written for Aretha Franklin, the echoes of yesteryear exude from the iconic legend seated at the digital piano with invisible loving arms wrapped around her body and a swoon in her voice:

E                       A                 D                 A                      D                A                      D              A             Bm        E

‘’Cause you make me feel, ‘cause you make me feel, yes you make me feel like a natural woman’’

The slow tempo and treacle-like trickle in her voice as she releases those ardent lyrics accompanied by an empathetic digital piano line and the buzz of a single double bass string is all it needs.

‘You’ve Got A Friend’

Though James Taylor may hold the prize for the best known version – it’s still a Carole King original; played with strident digital piano line over a ‘thumping’ bass line and an easy-style King execution from the Queen of the ‘60s and a highlight of the ‘Beautiful’ Jukebox Musical:

                      C    E              Am D                     G

‘’… and I’ll be there, yes I will, you gotta friend’’

Stuffed to the ginnels ‘til February 2016, ‘Beautiful’ has rave reviews in London’s West End as its nod to yesteryear is greeted with a knowing smile today. Long live the Jukebox Musical.

Janet Redwood

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