“Why Can’t I Move On?”

I know that “It’s Over, Isn’t It” is everyone’s go-to song (once they get past “Stronger Than You”), but with its familiar Broadway melody and orchestration it took me a while to warm to, beside some of its more outre neighbors. The key things that sell it for me are subtler than its reputation; more contextual.

One is the obvious, yet somehow not fully obvious, point that she’s singing to Greg. Yes, semantically it’s clear enough—but think about the significance there; the intimacy of a song, and how she waits until he’s asleep to confess to him. This, to be clear, is just shortly after she refuses his dance. (Then just following this exorcism, they mutually accept.)

She’s not singing to herself (not entirely, not formally, at least), and not really to Rose. She’s directing her song, her bleeding musical wound, to the object of a couple of decades of her scorn. Which as a fact says so much more than the specific contents of that heart-dump.

And then there’s the structure of the song, which is a subtle thing, but its skipping, repetitive nature reflects the swirl of obsessive, intrusive thought patterns. Musically the song reflects Pearl’s attempt at poise even as structurally she’s scrambling for a throughline. “Why can’t I move on?” asks the scratched record.

It’s a significant song, and its meaning is expressed through its music and structure at least as much as its lyrics. Even the stiff, formal familiarity of the melody and instrumentation have something to say about the person and her thoughts and emotions.

As with most aspects of this show, the more you pick away, the more layers you realize you’ve been missing.

Author: Azure

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