“You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught”

One of my favorite musicals is Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific”. One of its main central themes is Racism- I actually think that theme might be the antagonist of the musical. There is an incredible song in there called “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught”.

Do you know what makes that particular song incredible. Well, it does show that no one was born racist, but was taught it.

You’ve got to be Taught

Before its too late

Before You are Six

Or Seven

Or Eight

To hate all the People your Relatives hate

You’ve got to be Carefully Taught

You’ve got to be Carefully Taught- South Pacific

This is a great example of where racism comes from. No one was born that way. You are taught about it. South Pacific is a love story between Emelie and Nellie. There is another romance, which is a subplot, that is between Joe Cable and Liat. After finding out about Emelie’s biracial children, Nellie wants to break up with them- due to the race of his children. That does lead to Emelie’s heartbreaking, “This Nearly was Mine”. Quickly, Nellie realizes her mistake- but doesn’t know if Emelie will survive after he agrees with Joe Cable to go on a risky mission. That mission gets Joe Cable killed, but Emelie actually lives.

Joe Cable is kinda of like Nellie in a way. He did not want to have biracial children with Liat. It is not like Nellie’s case where she realizes the mistake she made. That all came as a result of her not wanting Emelie’s children to end up being parentless, and discovering that she still wants to be with him.

It is crazy in a way to think about South Pacific could easily have been a tragic love story. That would have been the case if the two romances were switched- as in Joe and Liat being the main couple with Emelie and Nellie being only a subplot. But due to South Pacific being about Emelie and Nellie, South Pacific remains a happy love story.

It actually is Joe Cable that teaches Emelie about this message. Emelie obviously wasn’t taught racism. Joe Cable and Nellie were, which leads to tragic consequences for almost both of them. Emelie almost didn’t survive, but good thing he did. I actually think “Some Enchanted Evening” is one of the most romantic love stories in musical theatre.

Top South Pacific Songs

The next show in this series, I will be exploring my top songs found in South Pacific, the 2nd best Rodgers and Hammerstein musical

Possible Spoilers:

1. Some Enchanted Evening- this to me is the title song of the musical. It is a beautiful song sung by Emelie to Nellie towards the beginning of the musical. It is one of the initial songs exploring the love the two have for one another

2. There is Nothing Like a Dame- I just love the overall fun nature of this song. Whenever I think of showtunes, I think of melodies similar to this song.

3. Younger Than Springtime- Like any Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, there are two romances. The main storyline focuses on Nellie and Emelie. Younger than Springtime focuses on Liat and Joe Cable, which is a beautiful song, but does turn out to be tragic in the end

4. You’ve Got to Carefully Taught- the thing I really love about this song is that it shows that racism is something that we learn; not the fact that we are born racist. Racism is one of the serious factors that is part of South Pacific

5. I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair- Another fun sounding song. Well Nellie just found that Emelie’s children are of a certain race, and she is basically thinking of leaving them. That is basically what this song is about.

6. This Nearly Was Mine- This is a heartbreaking song. This is actually a breakup song. Nellie actually just broke up with Emelie. Actually I think breakup songs line up with the same emotions unrequited love songs deal with. So the two situations I believe are very similar. Due to this heartbreaking song being in South Pacific, it makes South Pacific both complex and realistic.

7. Honey Bun- oh my gosh, this song is hilarious watching and has a very fun melody

8. A Wonderful Guy- there is a bit of irony in this. Nellie actually sings this right after “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair”. So why would Nellie sing how much she loves Emelie right after thinking about leaving him? So see the irony behind that.

Just for now

The Couple in the South

Possible Spoilers:

Emelie and Nellie might be the hardest couple yet on this series. They are the main couple in the musical. It follows their romance throughout the course of the entire musical. The most romantic song found in South Pacific is “Some Enchanted Evening” sung by Emelie. They have fallen in love two weeks prior to the events to South Pacific. It is clear that the love each other. But conflict gets in the way after Nellie meets Emelie’s children. But his children’s mother is Polynesian and Nellie plans to break up with Emelie because of his children’s partial race. Despite that Nellie does admit that Emelie is a wonderful man and that she still loves him, but it is his children that prevents her from doing so.

So Emelie is heartbroken after Nellie breaks up with him and this is when “This Nearly Was Mine” comes into play. Eventually Nellie realizes her mistake in the hard way after discovering Emelie has gone on a very dangerous mission where he could be killed. Not wanting his children to not have a parent, Nellie decides to go back to Emelie in the end. So South Pacific explores the idea of racism. Honestly that describes their relationship in a way. It is clear throughout the entire play despite the conflict that gets in the way, that these two love each other.

But honestly I have no idea why I love this couple, but most of it has to do with “Some Enchanted Evening” I think. Even though just Emelie sings it, it does show their passion and their love for each even though it highlights how he feels about Nellie.

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Heartbreaking Love Musical Songs

The musical emotions of love and heartbreak work nicely together. Both translate beautifully. There are musical songs that are heartbreaking love songs. Below I will talk about some heartbreaking love songs.

Possible Spoilers:

I’m Not That Girl- this song started out as sad. I was only in middle school when I first realized the song was sad. By high school, I definitely understood this song was part of a love triangle. I was 100% blind to heartbreak growing up. I honesty did not understand unrequited love in those days. The song, “On My Own”, is a huge reason why I discovered this song was heartbreaking and memorizing the lyrics helped as well. This song doesn’t have room to be fully heartbreaking because literally just moments before Elphaba sang this song, she just found out she loves Fiyero so in many ways this song is moderately heartbreaking.

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On My Own- this song is even more heartbreaking than I’m Not That Girl. While both are unrequited love songs, there are obvious differences due to how different Elphaba and Eponine are as characters. Eponine’s story revolves around unrequited love so you know how it affects her unlike Elphaba. Marius is the only person who treats her kindly and that is why she loves him. This song shows just how strong Eponine is and this song is even more powerful and more heartbreaking than “I’m Not That Girl”

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This Nearly Was Mine- while this song is not dealing with unrequited love, there are still some similarities. This is sung in South Pacific by Emelie. Nellie has left him due to the race of his children’s mother. So this sung is dealing with a breakup, which has similar emotions in my opinion with unrequited love.

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Somewhere- this is the last love song in West Side Story. As the love songs go on in this musical, the songs just get sadder and sadder. This song happens right after the rumble takes place and that is when the first traces of tragedy show up. It is so close to the tragic end of this modern Romeo and Juliet tale.

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If I Can’t Love Her/Evermore-I put these two songs together because they are both sung by beast. They both are similar to each other in emotion. Beast has realized that he loves Belle, but doesn’t know if she will ever love him. He cannot be turned back into his human form until he loves someone and he is loved back.

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As Long As He Needs Me- I actually did see Oliver in middle school, but do not remember seeing it. The only knowledge I really have belong to the book and the 2005 movie. So it is interesting how I seem to know that this song is a heartbreaking love song, but the same could be said for “If I Can’t Love Her”. But by knowing who Nancy is in the book and that movie, I know this song is heartbreaking. Nancy loves Bill Sikes even though he is abusive towards her, but she will always love him as long as he needs her even though the situation is dangerous

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In many ways heartbreak and love really fit nicely together. Even though I heard “If I Can’t Love Her” before “I’m Not That Girl”, “I’m Not That Girl” was really the start to sad love songs. That was because Wicked was the musical where I began to understand the negative emotions and Wicked is the best way I can even remember what the negative emotions were like in my younger years.

However “On My Own” started telling me more about sad love songs. I began to understand that sad love songs are actually heartbreaking. If it wasn’t for “On My Own”, I still would be interpreting sad love songs the same way as  I used to call “I’m Not That Girl”. Calling a song heartbreaking is even more devastating than calling a song sad. Due to that, a heartbreaking love song has more fragility and vulnerability. I cannot think of a single sad love song that is not heartbreaking.

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Favorite Musical Protagonists

This is a list of some memorable musical main characters.

  1. Elphaba and Glinda
  2. Jean Valjean
  3. Annie
  4. Jack Kelly
  5. Miguel De Cervantes/ Don Quixote
  6. Maria Von Trapp
  7. Pippin
  8. Roger and Mark
  9. Harold Hill
  10. Nellie and Emelie