Saw “Jersey Boys” Saturday night with Brandon and Kelly, had dinner at Grille 36, was bummed they got rid of these tacos that I loved, had a great night regardless because that show is so good.
But I think I want to talk more about one specific character.
The plot of the show follows the career of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, with each member of the band narrating a different era–appropriately split into seasons. It ends with the band’s induction into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame, and the show closes with each member doing a sort of monologue summing up their experience and discussing what they’re doing in life now. It’s a nice closer and a good way to let every character have their last word.
In the midst of the band–and their mob-boss mentor–trying to decide how to handle Tommy’s financial debts owed to said mob, one of the guys, Nick, decides to quit. At the end, he talks about why and says he just said it, but once he said it, he knew it was what he really wanted and explores the possibility that maybe it was an ego thing. He makes a joke about being the Ringo of the band which is funny and appropriate yet also kind of gives you insight to his head at the time.
The thing is, I’ve seen the show onstage twice and I’ve seen the movie, and Nick has emerged as my favorite character. Sure, they’re all flawed–but honest about it–and also have great strengths, especially as musicians, and it’s easy to see why Nick might feel he was Ringo. Tommy was a commanding presence that brought the group together and virtually ruined it with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. Frankie was, well, Frankie and is still a musical star performing and selling out venues. Bob Gaudio was the young kid who came in and wrote the band’s biggest hits. And then there’s Nick–it’s not that he contributed nothing, it’s just that he kinds of fades in the background. He’s a quiet character for most of the show, though he does have some great lines.
I think the reason I’m so drawn to his character–and the real Nick, if the show’s as true to the real story as its writers claim–is because I relate to him.
I feel like I’ve been Nick.
I know what it’s like to feel like the Ringo of the group. To feel like you’re overlooked, left out, unimportant, maybe even a joke. It’s how I felt with the Craigs, much as I hate to bring that all up again some three years now after our falling out.
I know what it’s like to sit back and keep your mouth shut, to deal with a lot of other people’s bullshit until one day, you just can’t anymore and you blow up, let it all out in a way that maybe the people around you weren’t expecting.
I know what it’s like to essentially say you’ve had enough, to realize that you don’t want to be a part of a certain group anymore, to realize that you’ve actually been unhappy for a long time and to just walk away from what–or who–it is that’s making you so unhappy.
The difference between me and Nick? He was very sure of his decision. I questioned mine relentlessly and had to constantly look at where I was at the time and how far I’d come and tell myself yet again that I had to do what was right for me, and that I’d done it.