Get the Picture, from Watch the Birdie (Day 47)

Family photoFamily is tremendously important to me, so it’s not surprising that it’s a subject I’ve returned to again and again in my work. As evidence of this, consider One Big Family, a song I wrote for Gemini the Musical and posted earlier in Project 194. Over the years, I’ve collected a number of the songs I’ve written about family into a musical revue called Watch The Birdie. It includes a number of songs that were culled or cast off from other shows – it seemed a shame to let such good tunes go to waste! – along with numbers I created to serve as a framing device. This song, Get The Picture, was written as an opening number, and was inspired by the Olan Mills studio photo on the left, a shot of me, my sister and my parents taken in the early 60’s (later, in 1964, our family expanded to include another little sister). My sister Cindi, who looks like a perfect angel in this photo, is celebrating her birthday today, and while it would be ungentlemanly of me to divulge her age, you can probably figure it out from the fact that she’s still just over a year younger than me. Fifty-plus years has brought a lot of changes to the four people “bravely smiling” in this photo, as you can imagine! More details after the lyric…


Mother, father, sister, brother
In the studio
Gathered for a family portrait
Many years ago

See the family bravely smiling…
Sitting in a row.
Close together, then and always.
One would never know
That the years would change us so.

Get the picture?
The picture lies
The moment disappears before our eyes
We try to capture it within a frame
But nothing stays the same.
Watch the birdie,
The birdie flies.
It always does somehow.
This nice depiction is just a fiction
I get the picture now!

Look at mother, like an angel
Nothing clouds her brow.
Look at father, strong and silent,
Younger then than I am now.

Only flowers on the bowers
Of our family tree:
Mother, father, brother, sister
Smiling happily –
A family in perfect harmony…
Har-mo-ny!

Get the picture?
The picture lies
The moment disappears before our eyes
We try to capture it within a frame
But nothing stays the same.
Watch the birdie,
The birdie flies.
It always does somehow.
This nice depiction is just a fiction
I get the picture now!

It’s magical how the photographer’s art
Has kept us together as we’ve grown apart
It’s simply amazing to see us all gazing
So confidently
(Don’t believe what you see!)
The tears and the tension,
The things you can’t mention
They never seem to show somehow…
Without the friction, it’s all a fiction.
You get the picture now?

Get the picture?
The picture lies
The moment disappears before our eyes
We try to capture it within a frame
But nothing stays the same.
Watch the birdie,
The birdie flies.
It always does somehow.
This nice depiction is just a fiction
I get the picture now, boy!
I get the picture now!

This recording comes from a 2008 production of Watch The Birdie that Philly Music Theater Works presented at Walnut Street Theater Studio 5. The cast is consistently awesome, and includes former students Alex Keiper, Michael Doherty and Stearns Matthews along with Claudia Carlsson (who also sings the role of Alice in Realities), Sarah Gliko, Jason Michael and Chris Ertelt at the keys. Be prepared to hear (and see) more of these artists in the days ahead!

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!

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