No Day But Today: Thank You Jonathan Larson
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No Day But Today: Thank You Jonathan Larson

A tribute to the creator of "Rent" and "Tick, Tick...Boom."

No Day But Today: Thank You Jonathan Larson
Feinstein's 54 Below

I think about Jonathan Larson an inordinate amount. He created Rent and Tick, Tick...Boom! — both pivotal musicals that launched me on my path to composition. There’s been a recent movement to showcase unpublished works by his, so I wanted to take the time to discuss this icon.

Jonathan Larson creatively impacted me. I feel like we view the world in the same way, if I can be so bold to say: his dedication, passion, and near failure are what I want my life to imitate. I think about how close he was to giving up. But at the same time, how close he was to success.

Jonathan died the night of dress rehearsal for Rent. It was about to open off-Broadway and he suddenly died, alone in his apartment. I’ve heard people say it was a tragedy that he couldn’t see his work fulfilled, and I agree. Because he should have lived another sixty years.

The bittersweet part about Jonathan’s life is not so much that he came close to tasting success, but that he didn't get to craft more powerful statements. Jonathan got to create and change the world through his art, much of which will be premiered in the Jonathan Larson Project. He’s inspired thousands of people through his work, myself included, and makes them feel heard in a way he might not have felt. Or maybe he did feel heard. There’s no way of knowing. And that’s the tragedy.

The world needs Jonathan Larson’s music. The world needs to turn on its head and examine everything it thinks is important. The world will always need Jonathan Larson. But that path doesn’t exist anymore, not since 1996.

So where does that leave us, the rest of the world? Where does that leave me? I wish I could have learned from Jonathan Larson, could have seen him touch the world repeatedly and deeply. I want to be Jonathan. But, as a friend once told me, “The world doesn’t need another Jonathan Larson. They need you.” And she is damn right.

The only way we will change the world is by doing it ourselves. Art imitates art and I imitate Jonathan Larson. I am forever grateful to how he crafted and changed musical theatre. From him, I learned that there’s no day but today. Thank you, Jonathan Larson.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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