Category Archives: DArcy

Making It Up As We Go Along (Day 193)

On the next to last day of Project 194, another song that’s very close to my heart. I wrote this for a revue that D’Arcy and I created called Happily Ever After, a collection of songs about married life, mostly by other composers. We had big fun performing it here and there, most memorably in the conservatory at Longwood Gardens one summer evening on our wedding anniversary. We got asked to perform it on a few special occasions, including a tribute to Bob Doss, the minister at the First Unitarian Church in Wilmington, and at the wedding of our dear friends Stretch Wesolowski and Lucy Siegel. And then we incorporated it into the cabaret version of Watch The Birdie, the one we did at Don’t Tell Mama in NYC and The Bourse in Philly, with Harvey Price on drums and some very fancy sequencing on my trusty DX-7 to fill out the arrangement. That’s the version you’ll hear on this track.

The idea of married life as an improvisation seems to be a really powerful metaphor, and the lyric “following the changes” has multiple layers of meaning for someone who’s both a musician and a traveler on life’s journey. D’Arcy and I have been married now for 35 years, and I’ve been married for considerably more years than not. The decision to marry was one of the biggest we ever made, and I’ve returned to the subject again and again in my songs to re-examine that decision, but I always come to the same conclusion: it was the smartest and best thing I ever did, and it’s one of the most important reasons that I grew up and became the person I am now.

Although I’d had it in my head for weeks that I wanted this to be my penultimate post, somehow I forgot that I’d already posted this song months ago, back on Day 90! This is what happens with a project of this scope, I suppose – sometimes, you get mixed up. I fixed it, though, by replacing my Day 90 offering with another marriage song, Talk It Through, featuring D’Arcy and Gregg Edelman back in 1984 in my musical BGDF. By all means, check it out!

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Make Me Beautiful, from A Tiny Miracle (Day 94)

In my last Tiny Miracle post, the Little Tree received assurances from the Wise Oak that her “purpose would be plain in time” and that she needed to “have a little faith.”

The next song in A Tiny Miracle, Whispering Trees, was featured in an earlier post here. Back on Day 27, I was posting weather-related songs, and Whispering Trees depicts a wintry scene with evergreen trees slumbering beneath the winter snows.

Inevitably, though, the time comes for the trees to be cut down and taken to market. The Little Tree is nearly left behind, but the Grandson (now considerably grown up himself) pleads with his Grandfather and the tree he planted is added to the others already on the truck. On their way to be delivered to a tree lot in the city, the trees sense the excitement in the air, and fantasize about how they will be decorated for the holiday.

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A Tiny Miracle (Day 91)

A Tiny Miracle coverIn the next series of posts for Project 194, I’ll be showcasing the songs of A Tiny Miracle, a musical I composed in 1999 and 2000. These tracks were made as a studio demo during my sabbatical leave in the spring of 2000, and feature students and pros who performed the work in December 1999 along with friends I roped in.

Let’s start with the opening “Prelude” of the show and the first song. You’ll recognize D’Arcy’s voice as the storyteller, Todd Waddington sings the part of the Grandfather, Joilet Harris as the Wise Oak and my young son (9 years old at the time) as the Grandson, Timothy.

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Talk It Through, from BGDF (Day 90)

This is a song from my 1984 musical BGDF, my first adventure into the world of self-producing in New York. The singers are D’Arcy and Gregg Edelman, who play Pat and Ted, a married couple who work together at an advertising agency. It’s a song about what happens when your problems at work start to spill over into your marriage. Both husband and wife address the audience directly when they sing, voicing their thoughts as they progress from self-deluding platitudes to growing despair; in the dialog sections, they speak – or, at any rate, try to – directly to one another, and their conversation repeatedly runs on the rocks of misunderstanding.

This is one of a number of songs that I’ve written about the challenges of being married. I wrote it the first years of our marriage, when I was a pretty lousy husband, if the truth be told – self-absorbed and uncommunicative, a constant source of frustration to my high-spirited partner. Somehow, amazingly, we hung in there; I managed to extract my head from my ass a bit more often and participate actively in our relationship, and 35 years later, we’re still together, older and wiser and often happier. I’m still a work in progress, however, and I’m sure my self-absorbed behavior continues to tax the patience of those who are closest to me. I’m so sorry about that!

I think I’ve written elsewhere about Gregg Edelman, who was not long out of college when we cast him in BGDF, a graduate of Northwestern who had recently arrived on the New York scene. It’s been wonderful to observe the trajectory of his professional career – he appeared in the premiere productions of City of Angels and Passion and major revivals like Into The Woods, Wonderful Town and Drood.

We have the perfect arrangement as man and wife.
You’ll understand once you’ve seen us
When there’s a problem between us.
We talk things out like mature adults do.
We get results, too,
Wait and see.
Listen, honey…

There is no better prescription for married strife.
When there are signs of dissention,
We try an ounce of prevention.
Being frank will keep things tranquil,
That’s a guarantee.
We share our views enthusiastically.

TED: It’s better not to let things fester.
If something has distressed her,
Pat is certain to reveal it.

PAT: If there’s a burden, then we share it.
Who wants to grin and bear it?

BOTH: It makes no sense to try to conceal it.
So here’s our simple solution for wedded life:
Not talking kills like a cancer.
Communication’s the answer!
You can bet that we don’t let our pride get in the way.
That might jeopardize our repartee.
When we’re feeling blue,
We just talk it through.
All we have to do is…

[Dialog – their conversation doesn’t go as well as planned.]

TED: I never lose my composure at times like these.
We’ve just a minor delay here.
Let’s see now, what can I say here?
Something that oozes with warmth and candor.
I understand her,
I aim to please.

PAT: It’s hard to say why I’m feeling so ill-at-ease.
You mustn’t get the impression
I’m on the verge of depression!
I fell almost sure that our rapport will save the day.
We’ll speak our mind and love will find a way.

TED: I can explain my hesitation.
This sort of situation has all kinds of dangers in it.

PAT: I know it may sound like a dumb thing,
But if we don’t say something,
I’m gonna lost my mind in a minute!

BOTH: Won’t you do something to end this?
I’m on my knees!
I’d start if I was prepared to.
The simple truth is, I’m scared to.
I’m afraid the fact is we don’t practice what we preach.
But talk to me,
We still can be okay.

TED: I’m as scared as you.

PAT: Can’t we talk this through?

BOTH: All we have to do is…

If you missed them, these are the songs already posted on Project 194; the links on the right are songs chosen at random from previous posts. Want to contribute to my interactive composition, “Hear My Song?” Read more here. Want to receive daily songs delivered direct to your inbox? Sign up here!