The first time I ever heard this song was when Jamie Pugh sang it on Britian's Got Talent 2009. Back then, I hadn't 'met' Les Mis yet, so the song really had no impact on me (I didn't even really listen to it, or understand what I did hear) but I remember my mom saying that "Of course, this song is sung by a woman, not a guy, in the original play" (she thought Cosette sung it to Valjean which would be sort of odd, given some of the lyrics...). Little random fact there :) Anyway, to make a long story short, I watched the 10th in June of 2012 and was blown away by this song. It brought tears to my eyes and quickly became one of my favorite songs ever.
It's a beautiful song. The lyrics, the orchestration...I can easily say that it's in my top five list of Most Beautiful Songs Ever. And the little instrumental reprise of "He's like the son I might have known..." after the final battle always, always makes me cry (reprises, again...)
He's like the son I might have known.
If God had granted me a son.
The summers die, one by one.
How soon they fly, on and on.
And I am old.
And will be gone.
Colm owns this song. Simply owns it. There's no other way to put it. Sure, Alfie Boe has a beautiful voice and amazing stage presence but his acting is severely lacking and I just get an overall feeling of 'meh' from his performance. And Hugh Jackman has stellar acting, but not the best vocals for this song. But Colm nails it. I get goosebumps all over me and tears in my eyes whenever I listen to his version. I'd say that the only Valjean I've heard that comes close to his performance is Ramin Karimloo. I like his version almost as much.