Tag Archives: AIsForAnything

A Is For Anything (Day 68)

A Is For Anything logoSpeaking of youth… Well, I have been speaking of youth in my last few posts, here and here

For the next few days, I’d like to share songs from A Is For Anything, a musical I wrote for young audiences in 1988. At age 33, I was still fairly young, and absolutely a beginner when it came to fatherhood. This project was commissioned by the Delaware Institute for the Arts in Education, and it came along just when I needed it: I was a full-time freelancer at that time, in between academic gigs and relying on my talent and my resourcefulness to scare up my share of our family’s income.

Why not begin with A?
Many things start that way,
Like “anything.”
A is for Anything!
Anna begins with A,
Ends the exact same way.
How interesting!
Anna begins our play.

A is for Anything.
There would be no art without “A” to start.
A is for Audience,
Sitting in a row, waiting for the show.
A is for Actor, too.
We need “A” to act, it’s a well-known fact.
A is for Anything!

Alphabet starts with A.
That’s how you get to B
(Or not to be!)
B is a good beginning!
Be that as it may,
Soon you can get to C. (Si, si!)
See in a brand new way,
A funny way!
Wouldn’t that be OK?
We can begin today!

A is for Anything.
If there was no “A,” there would be no play.
A is for Africa,
We can go by air for adventure there.
A can be Anywhere,
It’s a great surprise, right before your eyes.
A is for Anything!

So I’m sitting here smiling as I’m typing out these words, thinking to myself, dang it, this is as cute as pigs! Really, I don’t mean to be immodest, but this lyric, and this composition, tickles me and pleases me so much that I feel self-conscious saying so. I love the idea of this musical, which is about the power of the imagination, the ability that we all have to make something out of nothing, to make shit up. That’s what I did in 1988, when I was broke and freaked out about being a husband and a dad and a breadwinner – I made some shit up, and it was delightful. It delighted a lot of people – I watched it happen – and it continues to delight me today.

This opening number doesn’t do much in terms of storytelling, apart from a little foreshadowing: we are told that the play will be about Anna, who will have an adventure, and learn to see, but these are just words at this point. Mostly, this number convinces us that we are in the company of three charming performers who are going to beguile us with a zany, energetic spectacle in the coming minutes.

The music was made in the studio of R. J. Miles, a Wilmington audio engineer who initiated me into the magic of Performer, a sequencer program for the Macintosh platform. It wasn’t long before I acquired the gear and the knowledge I needed to do this stuff at home, but for this project, I was fortunate to have an engineer to handle the digital tools while I made the music. The drum tracks were all created as patterns in an Alesis drum machine that R. J. let me take home and tinker with. Considering the highly mechanical way the music was created, I’m astonished by how much life it has!

Announcing Project 194: Songs for Sixty!

Pablo Picasso said, “One starts to get young at the age of sixty and then it is too late.”

This year, on July 13, the 194th day of the year, I’ll celebrate my sixtieth birthday, and as that milestone approaches, I find myself Googling quotes like this one and reflecting on the significance of the occasion. Too late, Pablo? Goodness, I hope not!

Turning sixty is an opportune moment to take stock, to review my accomplishments and, for better or for worse, measure them against the ambitions of my youth.

Jonathan Larson, in his song “Seasons of Love,” asks, “How do you measure a life of a woman or man?” My list, like Jonathan’s, would include laughter, strife and cups of coffee. And love? “How about love?” Yes, when I measure the past years in love, I feel incredibly blessed.

But in my case, I also measure my life in songs. For my entire adult life, I’ve been writing songs, and I’ve had the good fortune to hear many of them performed in shows and concerts.

To celebrate my sixtieth birthday, I’m going to post one song every day between now and my birthday – one hundred and ninety four songs in all, if I stick to the plan.

I call it Project 194: Songs for Sixty, and it culminates in a live concert to be held in Philadelphia on my 60th birthday, July 13.

These blog posts will include lyrics, along with reminiscences, digressions and obfuscations. And I’ll invite you – am in fact inviting you, right now – to leave your comments. You can even subscribe and get each day’s offering delivered directly to your inbox by clicking here.

What will this accomplish? I can guess, but honestly, I don’t know. That’s a song cue if ever there was one:

Let’s Go

Let’s go! Let’s go!
It seems a bit unorthodox, I know.
A trip is just the ticket.
Yes, it ought to do the trick,
So quick…

Let’s go! Let’s fly!
My aeroplane is waiting right nearby.
We’ll choose a destination
In some corner of the sky
And fly!
Let’s go!

Get lost!
What can you lose?
Think of the adventure
Of a stratospheric cruise.
You’ll feel like you’re alive
And you won’t know where you’re going
Til you finally arrive.

Let’s go, today!
Let’s let our intuition lead the way.
We won’t come back
Until we track down Vitamin A!
Guess so.
Let’s go.

A Is For Anything logoI wrote this song in 1988 for a children’s musical called A Is For Anything. One of my inspirations for that musical was a quote from a poem of Theodore Roethke: “I learn by going where I have to go.”

The character singing is the befuddled aviatrix Amelia Earhart, a role written for my beloved D’Arcy, my Lenya, my muse. The role is sung by Heather Carroll on the audio clip that appears below, but you can see D’Arcy play the role in the video that is on the show page here, and the tag “A Is For Anything” (in the tag cloud on the right) will take you to other songs from that show.

A Is For Anything is about using imagination to conjur something out of nothing. It’s about beginnings and learning to see “a funny way,” that is, the eccentric and unique vision with which an artist regards the world. There’ll be more songs from that show (plus video!) in the weeks ahead. Meanwhile, it’s as good a place as any to being this six-month retrospective, don’t you think?

Want to receive daily songs delivered direct to your inbox? Subscribe here!