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
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.
- Whiskey is the Life of Man
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…
- Cat’s in the Cradle
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
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
…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.
- Two Princes
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
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
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
- Good Old Days
Thanks for listening, and we hope to see you when 1 Henry IV begins performances on September 3!
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.