The Boy My Father Thinks He Knows, from Gemini the Musical (Day 83)

This melody, as I mentioned a few days ago, was incorporated into Harold as part of the rocket ship ride music, but began its life in New York City as a song for Francis in Gemini the Musical. Dan Micciche sings it on the track below; after you’ve had a chance to listen, you can go back and hear it in Harold and be eligible for a Ph.D. in Musicology (or Chazzy-ology), especially after reading the analytical commentary that follows the lyric.

Gemini1My father wants me to get a job,
But he needs to get a clue!
He tells me to get a girlfriend,
But that’s the last thing I need to do!
Holed up in my boyhood bedroom
On the eve of my twenty-first year,
I think all I want for my birthday
Is to be any place else in the civilized world but here!

My dad can’t see what I’ve become,
He’s thinking of those nights
We went to poker games and fights.
Although he means well, I suppose
I’m not the boy my father thinks he knows

I lock the bedroom door and hide
The secrets that I have to keep
Are buried deep inside
Although I’m dressed in these familiar clothes
I’m not the boy my father thinks he knows

Three years of college
No time was wasted
I tasted of fruits of knowledge
But here, I fear,
Some fruits are forbidden
Some discoveries are best kept hidden

Someday we two will start again
We’ll talk as men one day
And then I’ll find a way
To say what I’m not ready to disclose.
Til then, I’ll strike a once-familiar pose
And be the boy my father thinks he knows.

If you know the story of Gemini, you’ll recognize this as being an early moment in the story. The 2007 version of Gemini opened with Francis’s father, Fran, and the other South Philly characters singing One Big Family (a song I tried to replace with an upgrade called My Ivy League Son, but that’s a subject for a future post). Both these songs begin with Fran in the kitchen, fixing breakfast for his son, who’s home on his summer break from college at Harvard. The second scene then takes us into Francis’ bedroom, where this song gives us Francis’s take on the situation. Neither of these scenes were in the 2004 version of Gemini, which began in a more fantastical way, with Francis having a dream that turns into a nightmare, after which he is awakened (as he is in the play) by the noise of the garbage trucks outside his bedroom window.

This certainly looks and sounds like a song, but I don’t think it contributed effectively to the unfolding narrative of Gemini the Musical. The character of Francis was a hard one to find a voice for: he’s super-smart about a lot of things, and inclined to be a bit smart-alecky. He’s also confused about his sexual identity, which exacerbates his natural tendency to be a moody, miserable young adult. (I remember my boys at this age.) This song seems to be written in the voice of the lyricist, not the voice of the character. It appears neat and self-knowing, like Francis has got this whole situation figured out, when in fact he doesn’t have a clue about what to do. It’s polished and technically proficient, but not what is really needed, here at the beginning of the show where the authors have a limited window of opportunity to introduce the characters and the situation and make the audience feel something about them. I wrote a bunch of Gemini openings, and there’s one in the trunk that I regret we never tried out – a song called Help Wanted that I wrote after the Philly premiere during the time I was tinkering with the show before it was selected for NYMF. That song also incorporated Maria Callas, and it was decided not long after this song was drafted that Maria had to go. My collaborator and I disagreed about this decision, and looking back, I have to say, I miss her; I think she had real theatrical value in the piece and opened the door to an imaginative angle on the telling of Francis’s story.

All of which is to say, I’m glad I could use this tune in Harold, because it’s perky and cute and just right for a ride in a rocket ship.

One thought on “The Boy My Father Thinks He Knows, from Gemini the Musical (Day 83)

  1. Pingback: A Life Alone, from Gemini the Musical (2007) (Day 181) | Notes from a SAVI Savant

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