A Divine “Celebration of Life” in The Greatest Showman’s Soundtrack!

My wife, Raven, and I went to see the film The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman, a week ago. Say what you will about the movie/story, but we thought that the soundtrack was phenomenal, and the songs have stayed with me over the last few days. They deeply move me! What is it that moves me? The Life, the Joy, the Light. I believe these are reflections of the Divine within us all.

My wife, Raven, and I went to see the musical film The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman, a week ago. Say what you will about the movie/story, but we thought that the soundtrack was phenomenal, and the songs have stayed with me over the last few days. They deeply move me! What is it that moves me? The Life, the Joy, the Light. I believe these are reflections of the Divine within us all.

These songs are a celebration of Life! of overcoming our fears and obstacles, of transcending our selves, in becoming who we truly are meant to become, in being who we truly are already, in realizing our highest dreams, of not going gently into that good night, but of standing up, standing strong, opening our mouth, freeing ourselves to be our best Selves, in dreaming, in being visionaries, in believing, in creating the world how we dare think it should be, because we have the power to change the world. It starts here. It starts at home. It starts with our Self.

I doubt that is all what P. T. Barnum stood for, and there are many reasons to doubt it, that he may have taken advantage of and exploited people or animals for profit. But they knew that this film wasn’t going to be absolutely historically accurate, as Hugh Jackman notes in this interview:

I wouldn’t call it a biopic. It’s inspired by [P. T. Barnum]. He is a fascinating guy. He is a flawed character, for sure. Which is good when you play him as an actor. But he’s an outlier, he’s a pioneer, he saw the world differently than anyone else. He would not take “no” for an answer, and it’s an inspiring story.

I find that description similar to how many view the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith. Fascinating, flawed, outlier, pioneer, visionary, and yet his story is deeply inspiring to many. Some choose to “look for the Goodness in every person, every situation, every institution,” as the Buddhist teacher Culadasa (John Yates) recently urged. Hugh Jackman said that this musical is a “celebration of Life.” I agree!

Regardless of P T. Barnum’s full life history, and despite the deep flaws he had, his story is what deeply inspired these screenwriters, producers, directors, actors, artists, songwriters, and vocalists. They focused on the Good, and made a fantastic musical in the process. We could all focus on the Good more often, and what inspires us, what moves us, what animates us to live, to love, to create, to share, to lift, to inspire others.

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Me on a European ballroom dance tour in 2004.

This music fills me with Joy! Having stood in the spotlight myself, on the stage in front of tens of thousands of people as a member of the BYU Ballroom Dance Company, I helped bring joy to their hearts, happiness to their minds, and smiles to their faces, in countries across the world. I can say from personal experience that such stage performances as portrayed in The Greatest Showman are a real celebration of Life, and I felt that Life myself on many occasions. I felt life erupt within me as I danced, in a flow that at times was a kind of mystical experience, the dance moving me. Thandie Newton also beautifully described how dance allowed her to “lose herself,” and feel a connected sense of Oneness and aliveness. My fellow dancers and I came alive on the stage, and the audience felt that life. It was palpable! Life should be celebrated in these ways! Through dance, song, celebration, and lights! I think it is for these reasons that dance has historically been a part of religion and spiritual traditions; it re-connects us to our Divinity, even the Life within us and all Beings (see my paper on “The Genesis of the Round Dance“).

(If you enjoy this writing and content, please consider giving a Gift as a token of your appreciation and support. I am deeply grateful to you. -Bryce)

At the 75th Golden Globe Awards on January 7, 2018, the The Greatest Showman receive three nominations for Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy), Best Actor (Musical or Comedy, Hugh Jackman), and Best Original Song (“This is Me,” Benj Pasek and Justin Paul). It won the Best Original Song, even running against the excellent song from Disney’s CocoRemember Me” (which also has a heartfelt message). The album also landed #1 on the Billboard 200, a first for the songwriters Pasek and Paul. I want to share this album with you, below. Consider the lyrics, and let them wash over you.

Keala Settle, who plays the role of Lettie Lutz, the bearded lady in the film (a character based on Josephine Clofullia and Annie Jones), sings the song “This is Me,” and apparently was part of the inspiration for the song, according to the songwriters, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Interestingly, Settle was raised in the Mormon faith, as myself. She gave a wonderful rehearsal performance of the song, which was filmed (a must see! below).

This is Me.” And it moves me deeply, as it has many others. Hugh Jackman said that this was his favorite song of the film, the “anthem” and “heartbeat of this musical.” The lyrics and music speak for themselves. It is a celebration of Life!

I am not a stranger to the dark
“Hide away”, they say
“‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts”
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
“Run away”, they say
“No one’ll love you as you are”

But I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

Another round of bullets hits my skin
Well, fire away ’cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in
We are bursting through the barricades
And reaching for the sun
(We are warriors)
Yeah, that’s what we’ve become
(Yeah, that’s what we’ve become)

Won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
Gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

This is me

(Oh-oh-oh-oh)
And I know that I deserve your love
(Oh-oh-oh-oh)
There’s nothing I’m not worthy of
Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
This is brave, this is bruised
This is who I’m meant to be, this is me

Look out ’cause here I come
(Look out ’cause here I come)
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
(Marching on, marching, marching on)
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

(Oh-oh-oh-oh)
When the sharpest words wanna break me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
(Oh-oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh-oh)
(Oh-oh-oh-oh)
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
(Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh)
This is me


Another song from the film is “From Now On,” sung by Hugh Jackman. It also had a wonderful rehearsal performance, which was recorded (a must see! below). It recalls the journey through the dark night of the soul, as the main character experiences in the film. The lyrics and music speak for themselves. It is a celebration of Life!

I saw the sun begin to dim
And felt that winter wind
Blow cold
A man learns who is there for him
When the glitter fades and the walls won’t hold
‘Cause from then, rubble
What remains
Can only be what’s true
If all was lost
There’s more I gained
Cause it led me back
To you

From now on
These eyes will not be blinded by the lights
From now on
What’s waited till tomorrow starts tonight
Tonight
Let this promise in me start
Like an anthem in my heart
From now on
From now on

I drank champagne with kings and queens
The politicians praised my name
But those are someone else’s dreams
The pitfalls of the man I became
For years and years
I chased their cheers
The crazy speed of always needing more
But when I stop
And see you here
I remember who all this was for

And from now on
These eyes will not be blinded by the lights
From now on
What’s waited till tomorrow starts tonight
It starts tonight
And let this promise in me start
Like an anthem in my heart
From now on
From now on
From now on

And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home, again!
And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home, again!
And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home, again!

From now on!

And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home, again!
And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home, again!
And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home, again! (Yes!)
And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home, again!
From now on!

These eyes will not be blinded by the lights!

From now on!

Whats waited till tomorrow starts tonight!
It starts tonight!
Let this promise in me start
Like an anthem in my heart
From now on!
From now on!
From now on!

And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home again!
And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home, again!
And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home, again!

From now on
From now on
Home, again!
From now on
From now on
Home, again!


Another song in the film is “Come Alive,” sung by most of the main cast. They did a live performance of this song which was filmed, below. The lyrics and music speak for themselves. It is a celebration of Life!

You stumble through your days
Got your head hung low
Your skies’ a shade of grey
Like a zombie in a maze
You’re asleep inside
But you can shake awake

‘Cause you’re just a dead man walking
Thinking that’s your only option
But you can flip the switch and brighten up your darkest day
Sun is up and the color’s blinding
Take the world and redefine it
Leave behind your narrow mind
You’ll never be the same

Come alive, come alive
Go and light your light
Let it burn so bright
Reaching up
To the sky
And it’s open wide
You’re electrified

When the world becomes a fantasy
And you’re more than you could ever be
‘Cause you’re dreaming with your eyes wide open
And you know you can’t go back again
To the world that you were living in
‘Cause you’re dreaming with your eyes wide open
So, come alive!

I see it in your eyes
You believe that lie
That you need to hide your face
Afraid to step outside
So you lock the door
But don’t you stay that way

No more living in those shadows
You and me, we know how that goes

‘Cause once you see it, oh you’ll never, never be the same

We will be the light that’s turning
Bottle up but keep on shining

You can prove there’s more to you

You cannot be afraid

Come alive, come alive
Go and light your light
Let it burn so bright
Reaching up
To the sky
And it’s open wide
You’re electrified

When the world becomes a fantasy
And you’re more than you could ever be
‘Cause you’re dreaming with your eyes wide open
And we know we can’t be go back again
To the world that we were living in
‘Cause we’re dreaming with our eyes wide open
So, come alive!

Come one!
Come all!
Come in!
Come on!

To anyone who’s bursting with a dream

Come one!
Come all!
You hear
The call

To anyone who’s searching for a way to break free

Break free!
Break free!

When the world becomes a fantasy
And you’re more than you could ever be
‘Cause you’re dreaming with your eyes wide open
And we know we can’t be go back again
To the world that we were living in
‘Cause we’re dreaming with our eyes wide open
(Hey!)

When the world becomes a fantasy
And you’re more than you could ever be
‘Cause you’re dreaming with your eyes wide open
And we know we can’t be go back again
To the world that we were living in
‘Cause we’re dreaming with our eyes wide open

‘Cause we’re dreaming with our eyes wide open

So come alive! (Come alive!)


Another great song from the film is “Never Enough,” sung by Loren Allred. The lyrics and music speak for themselves. It is a celebration of Life and Love!

I’m trying to hold my breath
Let it stay this way
Can’t let this moment end
You set off a dream in me
Getting louder now
Can you hear it echoing?
Take my hand
Will you share this with me?
‘Cause darling without you

All the shine of a thousand spotlights
All the stars we steal from the nightsky
Will never be enough
Never be enough
Towers of gold are still too little
These hands could hold the world but it’ll
Never be enough
Never be enough

For me
Never, never
Never, never
Never, for me
For me
Never enough
Never enough
Never enough
For me
For me
For me

All the shine of a thousand spotlights
All the stars we steal from the nightsky
Will never be enough
Never be enough
Towers of gold are still too little
These hands could hold the world but it’ll
Never be enough
Never be enough

For me
Never, never
Never, never
Never, for me
For me
Never enough
Never, never
Never enough
Never, never
Never enough
For me
For me
For me

For me


Another great song is the opener, “The Greatest Show,” sung by Hugh Jackman and cast. The “greatest show” is this LIFE! It is this Life.

Ladies and gents, this is the moment you’ve waited for (woah)
Been searching in the dark, your sweat soaking through the floor (woah)
And buried in your bones there’s an ache that you can’t ignore
Taking your breath, stealing your mind
And all that was real is left behind

Don’t fight it, it’s coming for you, running at ya
It’s only this moment, don’t care what comes after
Your fever dream, can’t you see it getting closer
Just surrender ’cause you feel the feeling taking over
It’s fire, it’s freedom, it’s flooding open
It’s a preacher in the pulpit and you’ll find devotion
There’s something breaking at the brick of every wall it’s holding
All that you know, so tell me do you wanna go?

Where it’s covered in all the colored lights
Where the runaways are running the night
Impossible comes true, it’s taking over you
Oh, this is the greatest show
We light it up, we won’t come down
And the sun can’t stop us now
Watching it come true, it’s taking over you
Oh, this is the greatest show

(Woah) colossal we come these renegades in the ring
(Woah) where the lost get found in the crown of the circus king

Don’t fight it, it’s coming for you, running at ya
It’s only this moment, don’t care what comes after
It’s blinding outside and I think that you know
Just surrender ’cause you’re calling and you wanna go

Where it’s covered in all the colored lights
Where the runaways are running the night
Impossible comes true, intoxicating you
Oh, this is the greatest show
We light it up, we won’t come down
And the sun can’t stop us now
Watching it come true, it’s taking over you
Oh, this is the greatest show

It’s everything you ever want
It’s everything you ever need
And it’s here right in front of you
This is where you wanna be (This is where you wanna be)
It’s everything you ever want
It’s everything you ever need
And it’s here right in front of you
This is where you wanna be
This is where you wanna be

Where it’s covered in all the colored lights
Where the runaways are running the night
Impossible comes true, it’s taking over you
Oh, this is the greatest show
We light it up, we won’t come down
And the sun can’t stop us now
Watching it come true, it’s taking over you
This is the greatest show
Where it’s covered in all the colored lights
Where the runaways are running the night
Impossible comes true, it’s taking over you
Oh, this is the greatest show
We light it up, we won’t come down
And the walls can’t stop us now
I’m watching it come true, it’s taking over you
Oh, this is the greatest show

‘Cause everything you want is right in front of you
And you see the impossible is coming true
And the walls can’t stop us (now) now, yeah

This is the greatest show (Oh!)
This is the greatest show (Oh!)
This is the greatest show (Oh!)
This is the greatest show (Oh!)
This is the greatest show (Oh!)
This is the greatest show (Oh!)
(This is the greatest show)
This is the greatest show (Oh!)
This is the greatest show!


Another beautiful song is “A Million Dreams,” sung by Ziv Zaifman, Hugh Jackman, and Michelle Williams. I have also had a million dreams keep me awake at night, visions of what the world could be. This is the world I hope to make.

I close my eyes and I can see
The world that’s waiting up for me
That I call my own
Through the dark, through the door
Through where no one’s been before
But it feels like home

They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy
They can say, they can say I’ve lost my mind
I don’t care, I don’t care, so call me crazy
We can live in a world that we design

‘Cause every night I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make

There’s a house we can build
Every room inside is filled
With things from far away
The special things I compile
Each one there to make you smile
On a rainy day

They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy
They can say, they can say we’ve lost our minds
I don’t care, I don’t care if they call us crazy
Runaway to a world that we design

Every night I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make

However big, however small
Let me be part of it all
Share your dreams with me
You may be right, you may be wrong
But say that you’ll bring me along
To the world you see
To the world I close my eyes to see
I close my eyes to see

Every night I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
A million dreams, a million dreams
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make

For the world we’re gonna make


Yet another great song is “The Other Side,” sung by Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron.

Right here, right now
I put the offer out
I don’t want to chase you down
I know you see it
You run with me
And I can cut you free
Out of the drudgery and walls you keep in
So trade that typical for something colorful
And if it’s crazy, live a little crazy
You can play it sensible, a king of conventional
Or you can risk it all and see

Don’t you wanna get away from the same old part you gotta play
‘Cause I got what you need
So come with me and take the ride
It’ll take you to the other side
‘Cause you can do like you do
Or you can do like me
Stay in the cage, or you’ll finally take the key
Oh, damn! Suddenly you’re free to fly
It’ll take you to the other side

Okay, my friend, you want to cut me in
Well I hate to tell you, but it just won’t happen
So thanks, but no
I think I’m good to go
‘Cause I quite enjoy the life you say I’m trapped in
Now I admire you, and that whole show you do
You’re onto something, really it’s something
But I live among the swells, and we don’t pick up peanut shells
I’ll have to leave that up to you

Don’t you know that I’m okay with this uptown part I get to play
‘Cause I got what I need and I don’t want to take the ride
I don’t need to see the other side
So go and do like you do
I’m good to do like me
Ain’t in a cage, so I don’t need to take the key
Oh, damn! Can’t you see I’m doing fine
I don’t need to see the other side

Now is this really how you like to spend your days?
Whiskey and misery, and parties and plays

If I were mixed up with you, I’d be the talk of the town
Disgraced and disowned, another one of the clowns

But you would finally live a little, finally laugh a little
Just let me give you the freedom to dream and it’ll
Wake you up and cure your aching
Take your walls and start ’em breaking
Now that’s a deal that seems worth taking
But I guess I’ll leave that up to you

Well it’s intriguing, but to go would cost me greatly
So what percentage of the show would I be taking?

Fair enough, you’d want a piece of all the action
I’d give you seven, we could shake and make it happen

I wasn’t born this morning, eighteen would be just fine

Why not just go ahead and ask for nickels on the dime

Fifteen

I’d do eight

Twelve

Maybe nine

Ten

Don’t you wanna get away to a whole new part you’re gonna play
‘Cause I got what you need, so come with me and take the ride
To the other side
So if you do like I do
So if you do like me
Forget the cage, ’cause we know how to make the key
Oh, damn! Suddenly we’re free to fly
We’re going to the other side
So if you do like I do
(To the other side)
So if you do like me
(We’re going to the other side)
‘Cause if we do we’re going to the other side
We’re going to the other side


Another song is “Rewrite the Stars,” sung by Zac Efron and Zendaya.

You know I want you
It’s not a secret I try to hide
I know you want me
So don’t keep saying our hands are tied
You claim it’s not in the cards
And fate is pulling you miles away
And out of reach from me
But you’re here in my heart
So who can stop me if I decide
That you’re my destiny?

What if we rewrite the stars?
Say you were made to be mine
Nothing could keep us apart
You’d be the one I was meant to find
It’s up to you, and it’s up to me
No one can say what we get to be
So why don’t we rewrite the stars?
Maybe the world could be ours
Tonight

You think it’s easy
You think I don’t want to run to you
But there are mountains
And there are doors that we can’t walk through
I know you’re wondering why
Because we’re able to be
Just you and me
Within these walls
But when we go outside
You’re gonna wake up and see that it was hopeless after all

No one can rewrite the stars
How can you say you’ll be mine?
Everything keeps us apart
And I’m not the one you were meant to find
It’s not up to you, it’s not up to me
When everyone tells us what we can be
How can we rewrite the stars?
Say that the world can be ours
Tonight

All I want is to fly with you
All I want is to fall with you
So just give me all of you
It feels impossible
It’s not impossible
Is it impossible?
Say that it’s possible

How do we rewrite the stars?
Say you were made to be mine?
Nothing can keep us apart
Cause you are the one I was meant to find
It’s up to you, and it’s up to me
No one can say what we get to be
And why don’t we rewrite the stars?
Changing the world to be ours

You know I want you
It’s not a secret I try to hide
But I can’t have you
We’re bound to break and
My hands are tied


And the last song is “Tightrope,” sung by Michelle Williams.

Some people long for a life that is simple and planned
Tied with a ribbon
Some people won’t sail the sea ’cause they’re safer on land
To follow what’s written
But I’d follow you to the great unknown
Off to a world we call our own

Hand in my hand
And we promised to never let go
We’re walking the tightrope
High in the sky
We can see the whole world down below
We’re walking the tightrope
Never sure, never know how far we could fall
But it’s all an adventure
That comes with a breathtaking view
Walking the tightrope

With you, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh
With you, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh
With you

Mountains and valleys, and all that will come in between
Desert and ocean
You pulled me in and together we’re lost in a dream
Always in motion
So I risk it all just to be with you
And I risk it all for this life we choose

Hand in my hand
And you promised to never let go
We’re walking the tightrope
High in the sky
We can see the whole world down below
We’re walking the tightrope
Never sure, will you catch me if I should fall?
Well, it’s all an adventure
That comes with a breathtaking view
Walking the tightrope

With you, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh
With you, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh
With you
With you, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh

With you, ooh-ooh-ooh
With you


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4 thoughts on “A Divine “Celebration of Life” in The Greatest Showman’s Soundtrack!

  1. I enjoyed reading this and agree with the joy and positive energy that comes from these songs (not to mention, they are catchy!). Without question, we do need more love and acceptance in this world!

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