HomeMusicBrent Johnson's Lost Songs: 'The Bitch Of Living' from Spring Awakening

Brent Johnson’s Lost Songs: ‘The Bitch Of Living’ from Spring Awakening

brent johnson digs up another lost treasure, this week from Duncan Sheik’s Tony-winning musical, Spring Awakening

It’s the kind of single you don’t hear much on the radio anymore. Duncan Sheik’s ‘Barely Breathing’ was a lovelorn pop song anchored not by synthesizers or samples but by an acoustic guitar and airy vocals. Such was mainstream music in 1997.

The song was everywhere that year — staying in regular rotation on VH1 and spending a staggering 55 weeks on the Billboard charts. But Sheik never scored another smash. Some would call him a one-hit wonder.

Well, not quite.

Not only does Sheik continue to release pop records full of songs that manage to be both hushed and hooky, the man has also become a Broadway sensation. He won a pair of Tony Awards in 2006 for composing the music to Spring Awakening, the play he wrote with lyricist Steven Sater. It’s a remarkable piece of work — with lyrics full of sex and rebellion, set to music that’s rich with striking violin lines and soaring, instantly memorable choruses.

The show’s most electric song, ‘The Bitch Of Living,’ is almost like the Broadway version of 1970s Elvis Costello: frustrated lyrics sung through clenched teeth, backed by a chord progression that’s as melodic as it is jagged. You’d never know it was written by the same man who penned ‘Barely Breathing’ 15 years ago. (Apparently he’s stretching even more with his next project: Sheik is writing the music to a stage adaptation of American Psycho.)

So, for all of you who grew up in the 1990s, allow me to re-introduce you to Duncan Sheik’s music …



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