I'm Breaking Down: The Top Ten Songs by William Finn

By Ben Rimalower
16 Nov 2013


1. "What Would I Do?" (from Falsettos/Falsettoland)

Just as the this list began with Falsettos' opening number, fittingly it should close with the musical's closing. The central motif of "What Would I Do?" is beautifully both specific and universal. It manages to say something concrete on a topic as well trodden as the grief of losing a lover. "What would I do if I had not met you?" It's moving that such a painful moment in this person's life is filled not just with suffering, but also with gratitude. Then, the bridge section grounds the song in the moment of AIDS and gay life at that time, "All your life you wanted men and when you got it up to have them, who knew it could end your life?" It's so succinct, it's dry, and yet it's poetry.

(Ben Rimalower is the author and original star star of the critically acclaimed Patti Issues. Read Playbill.com's coverage of the solo show here. Visit him at benrimalower.com and follow @benrimalower on Twitter.)