Staff Playlist: The Last Five Years


The cast and crew of The Last Five Years and the Lyric staff compiled a Spotify playlist that remind us of the show. Here are some of our favorites!

1. “Movin’ Out” by Billy Joel

You should never argue
With a crazy mind-mind-mind-mind
You oughta know by now
(You oughta know by now)
You can pay Uncle Sam with the overtime
Is that all you get for your money?
And if that’s what you have in mind
Yeah, if that’s what you’re all about
Good luck movin’ up, cause I’m movin’ out

“It reminds me of ‘Jamie’ who’s always moving forward, always working towards that perfect life that he’s envisioned for himself.” – Jared Troilo, Jamie

Kicking off Billy Joel’s 1977 hit album The Stranger, “Movin’ Out” is a song that comments on upward mobility in the United States, and pokes fun at the legitimacy of the American dream. The song focuses on the aspirations and experiences of lower and middle-class New Yorkers, and ends with the sound of bass player Doug Stegmeyer’s 1960s Corvette starting and driving away. The sentiments of the song definitely line up with Jamie’s, as both his character and Joel’s lyrics emulate the strength to always move forward and find your own happiness.


2. “I Just Have to Breathe” by Dionne Warwick (written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David)

There are things that I did long ago
That I don’t do anymore
We grow out of things
Each day is different
Than the day before
And yet to love you
I just have to breathe

“Breathing—we all have to do it right? It settles so many things for us emotionally. But we have to take a little time to do it. It’s also what I say when I enter a rehearsal space or step onstage too—it’s a reminder.” – Leigh Barrett, Director

Originally written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, “I Just Have to Breathe” was first released on Dionne Warwick’s 1972 self-titled album, and appeared again on her 2012 compilation album titled Now: A Celebratory 50th Anniversary Album. Each passing day is unexpected, and tomorrow will always be different from yesterday. Taking a moment to breathe is a simple yet powerful reminder to stay grounded, and this song is a way of expressing that importance.


3. “These Four Walls” by Gavin Creel

​​So unlikely to be open so wide
So unlike me to feel so alive
Though we might be, if we just step outside
You and I need these four walls to survive

“This song tells the story of a struggling relationship that works when they are alone at home but as soon as they leave the walls of their house it all falls apart.” – Ryan Began, Assistant Director

Serving as the final track in his 2006 album titled Goodtimenation, “These Four Walls” by Gavin Creel talks about the safety of four walls within a relationship. The song talks about how the relationship is perfect and protected within these four walls, yet the moment they step outside, the relationship falls apart and is not as safe as it once was.


4. “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” by Billy Joel

A bottle of white, a bottle of red
Perhaps a bottle of rosé instead
We’ll get a table near the street
In our old familiar place
You and I, face to face, mmm
A bottle of red, a bottle of white
It all depends upon your appetite
I’ll meet you any time you want
In our Italian restaurant

“Jason Robert Brown has acknowledged that Billy Joel, and particularly the album The Stranger, was a huge influence on him, which you can hear particularly in the piano solo from this song, and also its scope and scale is comparable to the lengthy songs in The Last Five Years.” – Dan Rodriguez, Music Director

“Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” serves as the fourth song in The Stranger, and is the longest song in Billy Joel’s repertoire at just a little bit over seven minutes long. The song follows a cinematic structure, split into three parts to depict a scene of two friends meeting and catching up at an Italian restaurant. The first scene is a scene of two old friends reuniting, which then segues into the second scene that portrays two classmates reminiscing and catching up. The third scene tells the story of a failed relationship, with the song ending with a mirroring of the song’s beginning: “I’ll meet you anytime you want / At our Italian restaurant.”


5. “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson

I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn how to fly
I’ll do what it takes ’til I touch the sky
And I’ll make a wish, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

“I feel like Cathy would be a big Kelly Clarkson fan, and also, it’s the perfect song that encapsulates Cathy’s journey.” – Kira Troilo, Cathy

“Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson was first released as a single from The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement soundtrack, and then became included in Clarkson’s second studio album also titled Breakaway. This song tells the story of someone who wants to break free of their small town and go to extreme lengths to achieve their dreams. This song is very representative of Cathy as well as her journey throughout the show.


6. “I Love You So” by The Walters

​​I’m gonna pack my things and leave you behind
This feeling’s old and I know that I’ve made up my mind
I hope you feel what I felt when you shattered my soul
‘Cause you were cruel and I’m a fool
So please let me go
But I love you so (please let me go)

“A song about falling in and out of love!” – Emeline Shepard, Development Assistant

This song has heartbreaking lyrics that tell a person’s conflict within a relationship. Though the person knows how damaging the relationship is and that their partner is doing nothing but harm to them, they are still in love with them. This being said, they understand that the relationship is doing more harm than good and that they need to stop falling for the lover.


7. “Love You For a Long Time” by Maggie Rogers

And in the mornin’ when I’m waking up
I swear that you’re the first thing that I’m thinkin’ of
I feel it in my body
Know it in my mind, oh I
I’m gonna love you for a long time

“The joyful, upbeat, hopeful, and self-assured nature of this song reflects the optimism and devotion Jamie and Cathy had at the beginning of their marriage. It’s really beautiful and something we all want to feel, but it may be a little naïve.” – Kandyce Whittingham, Administrative Assistant

“Love You For a Long Time” is the first single released after Maggie Rogers’ 2019 album Heard It In A Past Life. This song is about love, but while the song comments on a relationship with a particular person, Rogers has said that the song’s message can have a broader reach and can fit into love in all forms: romantic love, platonic love, familial love, and much more. “Love You For a Long Time” also has a folk-ish sound to it with an acoustic guitar and a steady rhythm, sounding like a breath of fresh air, and the feeling of pure joy and liveliness.


8. “Hope Alone” by Indigo Girls

Were always looking for your distance
And sensing my resistance
You had to do your will
I had to learn the hard way
We were just an empty dream too big
For hope alone to fill

“This is such a wistful melody with heartbreaking lyrics that capture what it is like to love someone but to know it will inevitably never work. The hope alone is not enough to make it last.” – Heather Darrow, Marketing Director

“Hope Alone” serves as the seventh track off of their 2002 album, Become You. This song is about a relationship that is not true on both sides, and how one half of the relationship is not putting in as much effort as the other half because they want out. The harsh reality is that it wouldn’t work out after all, and realizing that they “were just an empty dream too big for hope alone to fill.” This heart wrenching song goes along with Jamie and Cathy’s relationship in that hope alone is not enough to make their relationship last, and that they know it won’t work even though they love each other.


9. “Better Man” by Little Big Town

Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I can feel you again
But I just miss you, and I just wish you were a better man
And I know why we had to say goodbye like the back of my hand
And I just miss you, and I just wish you were a better man
A better man

“‘Better Man’ by Little Big Town really encapsulates the heartbreak of loving someone who you know isn’t a good partner for you, and mourning the life you thought you could have with them.” – Kate Casner, Digital Marketing Associate

Serving as the seventh track in their 2017 album titled The Breaker, “Better Man” by Little Big Town tells the story of someone getting out of a toxic relationship and dealing with the grief and pain that comes after. Though they know it’s for the best that they leave the relationship, part of them wonders what would happen if their partner was a better person. This song also won the Grammy for “Best Country Duo/Group Performance” in 2018.


10. “The Very First Night (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)” by Taylor Swift

I wish I could fly
I’d pick you up and we’d go back in time
I’d write this in the sky
I miss you like it was the very first night

“Just as the musical ends with Cathy being so excited about how their first date went, even though we know it ends with their relationship not working out in the long run, “The Very First Night” captures the longing for when you were swept up in a new relationship that didn’t actually last.” – Jonathan Santoro, Administrative Assistant

“The Very First Night” serves as the penultimate track in Taylor Swift’s latest album, Red (Taylor’s Version). The album is a re-recorded version of her 2021 album Red, and the re-recording venture is the artist’s countermeasure against the changed ownership of the masters to her first six studio albums. This song is a new track “from the Vault,” and it is a reminiscence of an old relationship. Though the two people talked about in the song are at two different points in their lives, Swift sings about how she remembers the relationship fondly and how much she wishes to go back to what it once was. This song mirrors the ending of The Last Five Years perfectly as they both describe a joyful, yet painful nostalgia for a relationship that started strong but could not last forever.

11. “I And Love And You” by the Avette Brothers

Dumbed down and numbed by time and age
The dreams the catch, the world the cage
The highway sets the traveler’s stage
All exits look the same
Three words that became hard to say
I and love and you
I and love and you
I and love and you

“This song reminds me of how it grows to be so difficult for Cathy and Jamie to express how they love or no longer love one another. It also reminds me a little bit of how they both find solace in New York, Cathy in her desire to work in the city and Jamie in growing his career in the city.” – MJ Jepsen, Box Office Supervisor

“I And Love And You” serves as the kick-off track of their 2009 album of the same name. The song talks about a person leaving their current life behind to pursue their dreams of living and working in New York City. The song also may have an alternative meaning where the person desires to escape, perhaps saying goodbye to someone they were once in love with. The repetition of the song’s title in the outro explains that it is hard for the person to tell the people around them that they love them, especially the ones they left behind for their new journey. This mirrors Cathy and Jamie’s relationship in the way that it is hard for them to continue their relationship as strong as it once was while they both individually desire to reach for their dreams.