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The Boar’s Head Jukebox: Songs Inspired by ‘1 Henry IV’

Folger Theatre is getting ready to begin its season with 1 Henry IV. Part epic history, part raucous comedy, and part poignant coming-of-age tale, Shakespeare’s exploration of one prince’s path from tavern to battlefield is filled with larger-than-life characters. Get in the spirit(s) with our playlist of songs meant to introduce you to the characters and guide you through the world of 1 Henry IV.


When we first see Hal, he is carousing at the Boar’s Head Tavern, a local watering spot for the denizens of Eastcheap. And why not?  The vibe is carefree, with responsibility largely left at the door in favor of indulgent living. Throw caution to the wind and raise a glass to these songs about good times and bad reps.

  • We Are Young
    fun., Janelle Monáe
  • Bad Reputation
    Joan Jett & Blackhearts
  • these are my friends
    lovelytheband

Falstaff in the Boar’s Head Tavern. Johann Heinrich Ramberg, 1829[?}. Folger Shakespeare Library.
Hal’s best pal is “sweet Jack Falstaff, kind Jack Falstaff, true Jack Falstaff, valiant Jack Falstaff, and therefore more valiant being as he is old Jack Falstaff,” a jolly, fat knight with a taste for sack and tall tales. For him, we’ve chosen a trio of drinking songs to imbibe.

Falstaff (Edward Gero). 1 Henry IV, Folger Theatre, 2019. Photo: Brittany Diliberto.
  • Margaritaville
    Jimmy Buffet
  • Tubthumping
    Chumbawumba
  • Whiskey is the Life of Man
    Bellowhead

 

 

 

 

The spirit of Eastcheap is that one can be “kings and queens in our own mind” (Kings & Queens, Mat Kearney), but there’s a catch. You see, Hal is destined to be an actual king—and the current one (his father) is none too pleased with Hal’s behavior. Let’s take a closer look at why King Henry IV might be dealing with some stress…

Costume rendering for King Henry IV by Kathleen Geldard. 1 Henry IV, Folger Theatre, 2019.
  • Cat’s in the Cradle
    Harry Chapin
    Well, for one thing, being king does not leave a great deal of room for paternal bonding. If only King Henry IV could have heard this classic song about the passage of time and the importance of connecting when you have the chance, he might have had a stronger relationship with Hal.
  • It’s Good to be King
    Tom Petty
    But surely, the cost is worth it…right? Isn’t it “good to be king and have your own way”?
  • Find Out Who Your Friends Are
    Tracy Lawrence, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Brad Arnold
    If nothing else, being king gives you the opportunity to see who will be there “when the rubber hits the road…”
  • What Have you Done for Me Lately
    Janet Jackson
    …except it seems all of the king’s friends are looking for a little payback. You see, they helped him get where he is—what has he done for them lately?
  • Heavy is the Head
    Zac Brown Band
    No wonder King Henry is feeling antsy.

Chief among those circling the crown is the Percy family, who feels they deserve something in exchange for their help is getting Henry the crown that once belonged to Richard II.

Hotspur and Lady Percy; Alexandre Bida. Folger Shakespeare Library. 
  • Two Princes
    Spin Doctors
    It particularly doesn’t help that the King acknowledges the Percy’s have”A son who is the theme of Honor’s tongue, / Amongst a grove the very straightest plant, / Who is sweet Fortune’s minion and her pride; / Whilst I, by looking on the praise of him, / See riot and dishonor stain the brow / Of my young Harry.”
  • Temper Temper
    Lime Cordiale
    Young Harry Percy, aka Hotspur, has his own faults though. A wicked temper may win you acclaim on the battlefield, but it’s also likely to ruffle some feathers.
  • Lady Percy
    King Charles
    The women in this are few and far between—something our production’s cross-gender casting helps rectify—but that doesn’t mean they are to be trifled with. Hotspur’s wife, Lady Percy, is certainly a force in her own way and we can see why the singer of this King Charles track would have fallen for her.

Even with all of these political players jockeying for position (preferably sitting on England’s throne), 1 Henry IV is at its heart the story of a young man getting ready to leave his youth behind and take on the mantle of adulthood. We close the playlist with songs about getting older and moving on.

  • When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)
    The Beach Boys
  • Don’t Throw Out My Legos
    AJR
  • Good Old Days
    Macklemore, Kesha

Thanks for listening, and we hope to see you when 1 Henry IV begins performances on September 3!

Click here to listen to the playlist on Spotify


Don’t miss Folger Theatre’s 1 Henry IV, on stage September 3 – October 13. For tickets and more information, visit us online or call the Folger Box Office at 202.544.7077.


1 Henry IV
Folger Theatre
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Rosa Joshi; movement and choreography by Alice Gosti; scenic design by Sara Ryung Clement; costume design by Kathleen Geldard; lighting design by Jesse Belsky; original music and sound design by Palmer Hefferan; fight choreography by U. Jonathan Toppo.

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