Be A Man, from Assassins (Day 119)

Following up on yesterday’s post, here’s another song from Assassins that addresses the issue of manhood. The poem is by John Schrank, the man who attempted to assassinate Theodore Roosevelt. Schrank didn’t make the team for Sondheim’s Assassins, but he is another member of that bizarre band of would-be murderers, and like Charles Guiteau, he suffered from delusions of grandeur. Also like Guiteau, he turned out to be a poet, and posterity has saved some of his writings.

The singer here is Christopher Cooke, from the 1979 Theater Express production.


Be a man from early to late.
When you rise in the morning
Till you go to bed,
Be a man.

Is your country in danger
And you are called to defend
Where the battle is hottest
And death be the end?
Face it and be a man.

When you fail in business
And your honor is at stake,
When you bury all your dearest
And your heart would break,
Face it and be a man.

But when night draws near
And you hear a knock,
And a voice should whisper
Your Time is up; refuse to answer
As long as you can,
Then face it and be a man.

If you’re interested in other songs from Project 194 that explore the issue of masculinity, I recommend How Do You Know and Re: Birth, both of which are from Watch The Birdie. And there’s more to come, notably from Gemini the Musical, in the days ahead!

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