Top 10 Songs in Hadestown

I saw Hadestown on Broadway literally two days before COVID-19 closed all the theaters, so I am about as fresh as you can get right now. I saw it because it won Best Musical at the 73rd Tony Awards, and I stan it because of many other reasons, such as how perfect the original cast was for their characters, the set and how it was always moving, the modernized storyline, and Orpheus’ melody, which brings spring back again despite not having any words. Join me in being obsessed with Hadestown, along with pretty much every other musical.

For some context, Hadestown tells the story of the Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice, where Orpheus goes to the underworld (Hadestown) to rescue his lover Eurydice. It also talks about Hades and his wife Persephone, since she is reluctant to be with him and take Spring with her. When she is down below, the weather is cold and things are treacherous above, especially for the lovers. Eurydice and Orpheus are allowed to leave the underworld, but they are not allowed to look at each other—they must trust that they are both together. Right near the end of the journey, Orpheus becomes fearful and he looks behind him, causing Eurydice to be trapped down below and him to wander forever above.

  1. Tamara Bellis

    This song talks about Eurydice’s place in the world, which is stuck between extremes. The weather is described as either “blazing hot or freezing cold,” and Eurydice goes from one place to another, moving and running from the wind. This takes her right to Orpheus.

  2. Hermes sings about the railroad that connects the underworld to the above, and he introduces all the characters while applauding them since he is the narrator. This song is essential to understanding the people of the musical and the bones of the story.

  3. Eurydice finally realizes she loves Orpheus and she may be able to be part of a “we,” rather than just alone all the time. It marks a change in her character, and she falls for Orpheus, who had been pining for her for so long and it was not reciprocated. Their love is the whole story.

  4. Persephone complains about going to Hadestown in this song, which is where she will stay for six months of the year with her husband. When she is not with him, it is summer, but when she is below, it is cold and winter.  She spends the rest of the musical down below and eventually rekindles her relationship with her husband.

  5. musician playing guitar and singing on stage

    There are three epics, and this is my favorite, and not for the subject matter, which is Orpheus singing about Hades, but for Orpheus’ tune. Orpheus talks frequently about how he is writing a song that will make spring come again regardless of Persephone. He does so much with a simple tune and melody, and this tune is the basis of who he is.

  6. In this song, Hades taunts Eurydice and convinces her to come to Hadestown to him, which leads her to be trapped down there. At this time, Orpheus is not there for her, and she is starving, and she almost has no choice. But she does not know that once she is down there, she cannot come back.

  7. couple hugging

    Orpheus decides to rescue Eurydice and this is his journey down, told partially by Hermes, who describes all of the things he will face just to get there. Orpheus begs Eurydice to wait for him to come, but what he does not know is that now he will be stuck down there too.

  8. Once Eurydice is down in the underworld, she becomes a worker, doing hard labor and building a wall. Hades feeds the workers propaganda in this song to keep them in line and make sure they are loyal to him and the cause. He says, “We build the wall to keep us free.” That’s a lot to unpack there.

  9. break up

    In this song, Orpheus laments that he has lost Eurydice, but he is overheard by the workers, who echo him. It is sad and lonely and foreshadows the end of the musical, where no one ends up happy. In the end, Orpheus did not trust Eurydice and this led to both of their downfalls. 

I hope you enjoy not just these songs, but all thirty-three songs of Hadestown. The musical is fantastic, please support Broadway once it safely reopens if you are able to. Many of the actors are out of work right now, so it is also important to support artists individually if you are able to, which will enable them to continue making great content.