Hi Mom, from Watch the Birdie (Day 48)

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 9.02.56 PMThe family album continues to grow on Project 194, with a double dose of Hi, Mom, a song that was originally composed for BGDF but wound up in the various editions of Watch The Birdie. The first track is sung by Alex Keiper in 2008:

This second one’s by Krysta Bernhardt, who performed it in a production that we did in NYC as the senior showcase for UArts MT’s ten years earlier:

Hi, mom
How ya doin’?
(a brief pause, as she listens to the other end of the conversation.)
Too bad.
Why, mom?
What’s the matter with dad?
(rapidly, under her breath.)
Did you finally wear him out with all your silly chatter? It’s a wonder that he hasn’t had a heart attack yet!
(to mom.)
No, mom,
Glad you called me!
I needed a break from the daily grind.
So, mom,
Whatcha got on your mind?
(rapid and sotto voce, as before.)
And maybe you could try to make it snappy, since I only have an hour and I know the way you like to sound off!
What’s that?
She’s having a baby?
My sister Theresa?
That’s great!
You’re gonna be a grandma.
How long will it be?
I bet you ten to one
She’s going to start in on me!
Who, me?
You’re waiting for me to?
You’ve gotta be kidding!
Now wait…
We have this conversation
Every time that you call!
I might as well be talking
To the goddamn wall!
Yo, mom,
Just a second!
No way!
No, mom,
I don’t care what you say,
There’s not a single reason you can give me why I’d want to have a baby, so forget it, ’cause I’ve had it up to here!

Whoa, mom!
I don’t have time to do this today!
Say, mom,
Gotta go now.
I’m getting a call on the other line.
Hey, mom
I’m not gonna resign.
What, and give you all the satisfaction of believing that I should have been a housewife?
I know you think I’m gonna make a big mistake
But I hope you understand, the choice is mine to make
Okay, mom?
Everything will be fine.
Everything will be fine.
Everything will be fine.
Everything will be….
Bye, mom!

This song was originally created for D’Arcy, and the rapid-fire shifts between the sung conversation and the rapid-fire internal monolog were a perfect showcase for her Speech-Diva awesomeness. Honestly, I have to say I’m unimpressed with this song apart from the opportunity it gives for the performer to… well, perform. It’s a promising idea that doesn’t really develop or culminate in anything; in the version of the song I wrote for BGDF, it had a longer middle section where the young executive gripes about her boss and her job and winds up blowing the cool facade she’s working so hard to maintain for her mom, after which she has to tuck it back in and pretend it never happened. Would it be better if I put that back in? All these years later, the urge to edit my old stuff is awfully hard to restrain…

We were still childless at the time I wrote this song, and the challenge of being treated like a child by one’s adult parent felt familiar and funny. Years later, we find ourselves on the other end of the conversation, pestering our sons with voicemails and text messages and trying to decode their laconic responses in search of a sign if they’re okay. Maybe I should try writing song from the reverse perspective: “Hi son, how ya doin’?” [Long pause.] That would be familiar and funny, and I know it would have the same ending: “Everything will be fine!”

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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