This assignment begins with an identification of seven songs that represent specific scenes or acts in the play, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. A brief explanation of the rationale underlying the song’s selection and the context of the scene from the play is outlined. Finally, a brief explanation of the suggested album cover art is provided.
Song #1: Celebration by Kool and The Gang (Act 1, Scene 1)
At the beginning of the play, the people of Rome are celebrating Julius Caesar’s victory and successes in battle. Celebration is abound, and there is a general sense of triumph with Caesar’s defeat of Pompey. This song, Celebration by Kool and The Gang (1980), arguably epitomizes celebrations and having a good time, particularly after a success like the one Caesar experienced. The lyric, “…A celebration to last throughout the years…” might symbolize the events happening in the early part of Act 1, since the defeat of their military rival was a major victory for Caesar and the commoners.
Song #2: No Time for Caution by Hans Zimmer (Act 1, Scene 2)
One of the foremost elements of Act 1 Scene 2 is the extensive dialogue between Cassius and Brutus. Notably, Cassius attempts to convince Brutus that Caesar is a dangerous person and that his rise to power is concerning. Moreover, they speak about the need to ‘eliminate’ Caesar due to the threat he poses. Hans Zimmer’s (2014) instrumental song, No Time for Caution, was selected because it seems to illustrate the intensity and dramatic tone of this scene in the play. That is, the musical intensity in the song is equivalent to the intensity of the scene. Cassius is convincing Brutus to betray Caesar and that there is ‘no time for them to be cautious’.
Song #3: What Hurts The Most by Rascal Flatts (Act 2, Scene 1)
In this scene, Portia grows increasingly upset with her husband, Brutus, because it is clear to her that he is not being honest with her about what is going on. Brutus seemingly felt that he was protecting her, but that only convinced Portia that her husband was deliberately shutting her out. It is clear that Portia is hurt Brutus’ actions or, at least, how her perception of his actions. In any event, What Hurts The Most by Rascal Flatts (2006) sums up most of Portia’s emotions. The general theme of this song is about the sadness about the decline of what one thought was a loving, honest relationship. A notable song lyric is, “What hurts the most is being so close, having so much to say, but watching you walk way…” (Rascal Flatts 2008). This represents the emotional pain Portia feels when Brutus walks out on their conversation.
Song #4: Damned for All Time/Blood Money by Andrew Lloyd Webber (Act 2, Scene 1)
In Act 2, Scene 1, Brutus’ soliloquy ponders the reasons why Caesar has to die. From this, it is clear that Brutus is very conflicted and the decision to contribute to Caesar’s assassination is a major stressor for him. This has similar themes to the song Damned for All Time/Blood Money by Andrew Lloyd Webber (1993), where Judas is conflicted but feels that he needs to seek out the Pharisees to arrest Jesus Christ for the ‘greater good’. Brutus expresses similar sentiments towards Caesar as he has come to believe it is necessary for the betterment of Rome.
Song #5: I Don’t Know How to Love Him by Andrew Lloyd Webber (Act 2, Scene 2)
In Act 2, Scene 2, Calpurnia is warning Caesar to not leave their home because she has foreseen many frightening events. Despite his assurances that everything will be fine, Calpurnia is insistent that danger looms and that he should be fearful. Caesar persists in leaving the home, despite Calpurnia’s omens about his doom. I Don’t Know How to Love Him, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber (1993) for the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, is sung by Mary Magdalene about her love for Jesus Christ despite knowing that danger likely looms for him. Thus, the content of this song bears resemblance to the situation Calpurnia finds herself in with Caesar during this scene. Calpurnia loves Caesar but she finds it challenging and frightening knowing that Caesar’s doom is imminent.
Song #6: Thank You by Simple Plan (Act 3, Scene 1)
In this critical scene, the infamous line ‘Et tu, Brute?’ is uttered by Caesar to Brutus. The context for this line is that Caesar realizes that Brutus is about to assassinate him. Caesar realizes that Brutus, who he thought was his friend, is one of his assassins. Since this line and the scene symbolizes the unexpected and significant betrayal of a friend, Thank You by Simple Plan (2004) seems like an appropriate selection here. Although the song’s tone might not be the best fit, the lyrics probably appropriately sum up Caesar’s thoughts towards Brutus in this scene. In the first verse, the singer portrays how he will not forget what his former friend did to him and betrayed him despite their friendship and memories they made together. Perhaps more ominous are the lines:
When the tables turn again, you’ll remember me my friend,
You’ll be wishing I was there for you
I’ll be the one you’ll miss the most, but you’ll only find my ghost
As time goes by, you’ll wonder why, you’re all alone. (Simple Plan 2004)
Song #7: Ave Maria by Franz Schubert (Act 3, Scene 1)
In this segment of the play, Julius Caesar is being brutally assassinated by the rebellion led by the conspirators. The song, Ave Maria by Franz Schubert (n.d.), represents the emotions and overall dramatic tone of the events during this scene. The tempo of the song starts off rather slowly and exudes sadness, but the tempo gradually increases throughout the song. This increased tempo is meant to symbolize the act of the rebellion killing Caesar.
Album Cover Art
The front album cover art, seen below, depicts a celebratory scene that is reminiscent of the scene that takes place at the start of the play. Here, Julius Caesar is returning home victorious over his military enemy, Pompey. Caesar is depicted as triumphant at the start of the play, so it seems appropriate for the cover art to reflect his triumphs. Further, the font style was carefully chosen as it is a Roman font, which is important given that the play’s setting was Rome.
The back cover art is seen below, and outlines the track listing as well as the corresponding act and scene from the play. The imagery chosen here is reflective of some of the major events of the play, particularly those that occur towards the end of the play. Specifically, the civil unrest and chaos that ensued and resulted in the deaths of many major characters – Caesar, Brutus, and Cassius. That unrest is represented in this chosen imagery.
Kool and the Gang. “Celebration.” Celebrate!, De-Lite, 1980. Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/album/02ez6TRQvxsxdA2LaCK5BU?highlight=spotify:track:6CSLNGruNhqpb5zhfs5n3i
Rascal Flatts. “What Hurts the Most.” Me and My Gang, Lyric Street, 2006. Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/track/4bVuIlGQBMWS7vIhcx8Ae4
Schubert, Franz. “Ave Maria.” n.d. Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/track/5SuYIaavkQwtvol6qYYMHx?si=648cca67a4b8492d
Simple Plan. “Thank You.” Still Not Getting Any…, Lava Records, 2004. Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/track/3IFMVmxg2N7tnbeRb7RVTn
Webber, Andrew Lloyd and Tim Rice. “Damned For All Time/Blood Money.” Jesus Christ Superstar, Geffen Records, 1993. Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/track/3xDaF7HYktotdEcHvWO7zV?si=b19cebbf865e4f60
Webber, Andrew Lloyd and Tim Rice. “I Don’t Know How To Love Him.” Jesus Christ Superstar, Geffen Records, 1993. Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/track/6Z59Uw8DSsmHIZqdR8E5dz?si=13f6930fb86a4301
Zimmer, Hans. “No Time for Caution.” Interstellar, WaterTower, 2014. Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/track/1yzSSn5Sj1azuo7RgwvDb3