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The Meaning Behind The Song: Almost Real by Jason Robert Brown

The Meaning Behind The Song: Almost Real by Jason Robert Brown


I want to share with you the profound meaning behind the song “Almost Real” by Jason Robert Brown. This heartfelt piece comes from the musical “The Bridges of Madison County” and beautifully tells the story of Francesca, a girl growing up in Napoli, Italy.

Francesca’s Journey

The song starts by introducing us to Francesca’s reality in Napoli. Growing up, she faced the pressure of her mother’s expectations and the infatuations of the boys around her. Francesca reflects on her sister Chiara, who always dressed provocatively and relentlessly sought attention. Despite the contrasting relationship with her sister, Francesca dreamed of a simple life in Siena, far from the chaos and expectations.

Paolo, Love, and Uncertainty

Enter Paolo, a boy from down the hill with captivating silver eyes and coal-like hair. It is unclear why Francesca falls for him, but love is often a mysterious force. They shared a kiss one winter’s day, and despite Chiara’s unimpressed warning about Paolo’s perceived dullness, Francesca took the plunge.

Loss and Destruction

Tragedy strikes as Paolo joins the army and never returns. Meanwhile, Chiara continues living her carefree life, disregarding the chaos that surrounds them. The streets are in ruin, water is filthy, and basic pleasures like cigarettes and haircuts are scarce. Francesca’s world is in disarray, and she finds herself seeking solace by the harbor, gazing at the American ships.

Almost Real

At this point in the song, a glimmer of hope emerges. Francesca locks eyes with an American who offers her a way out of her current reality. Taking this chance means leaving Italy and everything she has known, including her sister and the life she once had before the war. It’s a bittersweet decision, but Francesca realizes that by accepting this opportunity, she can experience something “almost real.”


“Almost Real,” as interpreted by Jason Robert Brown, encapsulates the complex emotions that arise from longing for a better life amidst unimaginable circumstances. Francesca’s journey reflects the struggles, sacrifices, and desire for freedom that many individuals face during times of conflict and uncertainty.

From personal experience, this song has touched me deeply. It reminds me of the resilience and strength within us, even when life seems unbearable. “Almost Real” serves as a reminder that sometimes we must make difficult decisions in search of a better future, regardless of the attachments we leave behind.

Overall, Jason Robert Brown’s composition paints a vivid picture of Francesca’s life and the meaning behind her choices. It is a powerful exploration of human nature and the pursuit of happiness in the face of adversity.

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