We Can Shoot You, from Assassins (Day 104)

A little bird reminded me that tomorrow was the 150th anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and said it wouldn’t be amiss to post something from Assassins. This clip was sung by a chorus of assassins in the Theater Express production in 1979, including John Wilkes Booth, the brooding fellow in the photo below..


John Wilkes BoothWe can shoot you, if you please.
We can shoot you, if you don’t please.
We can shoot you, now and then, for a laugh.
We can shoot you in half.
We can spook you for a jolt,
And we’d like to shock you too.
There’s a multitude of things that we can’t do,
But we can shoot you!

In an age of improbabilities,
We are probable.
We are actual, factual,
Potent and potential and almost inevitable.
We get more incredible every day.
We get more predictable every day.
We get everyday and predictably passe.

But we can shoot you, if you please.
We can shoot you, if you don’t please.
We can shoot you, now and then, for a laugh.
We can shoot you in half.
We can spook you for a jolt,
And we’d like to shock you too.
There’s a multitude of things that we can’t do,
But we can shoot you!

Those curious about the inspiration for this song might be well advised to check out Stanley Silverman and Richard Foreman’s Elephant Steps, which features a song called Shoot Them. I discovered Richard-and-Stanley thanks to Bill Turner, founder and artistic director of Theater Express and director of Assassins. Stanley had a particular knack for the fractured showtune, nostalgic and weird at the same time. I also detect a whiff of Disney in “if you please/if you don’t please,” which is from the Cats’ song in Lady and the Tramp, and a quotation from Tea for Two for good measure. This was me at age 24, in the thrall of what Jonathan Lethem would surely call the ecstacy of influence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *