Review: Working on a Song by Anaïs Mitchell

Review: Working on a Song by Anaïs Mitchell

Love!!! ❤️

Imagine the stories of Greek mythology set in a Great Depression Era-inspired, post-apocalyptic world, where the seasons are out of tune, there’s a train to hell, people swig wine out of tin cups, and they hope for spring despite the cold and dark 🌱

Hadestown is a bittersweet and refreshingly original musical written by folk singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell that won the 2019 Tony for Best Musical. It’s my favorite new musical since Hamilton, and I actually like it more — it’s more elusive and poetic, and I feel more things about it every time I see or listen to it.

This is my second time reading this book by Mitchell about her journey writing the music, specifically the lyrics, for the show, and it’s a true masterclass in storytelling through song.

Hadestown started as a folk concept album, and over 10+ years of workshops, feedback, and a few divine jolts of inspiration, the final polished Broadway musical was born. But it was messy along the way; Mitchell had to learn to adapt her folk-writing approach to a dramatic story with characters and plot. She had to make cuts. She had to rearrange. And rewrite. Again. And again. She had to work to balance the poetry with the practical.

And she did it beautifully ✨️

I find Mitchell’s writing journey so inspiring, because when you’re frustrated with your creative output it can be easy to give up — why bang your head against the wall trying to get it right when it seems like you never will?

Hadestown is the answer 🌹

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

What is seen and heard onstage is the blooming flower, but most of the plant is underground. Every line, verse, or chorus—every idea any of us who worked on it ever had, even the ones that never saw the light of day—they’re down there. They’re the roots of the plant, and the flower wouldn’t exist without them.

—Anais Mitchell, Working on a Song