Tag Archives: assassins

Don’t Let The Bogeyman Make You Blue, from Assassins (Day 116)

Like yesterday’s song from Assassins, We Serve The Hoove, today’s song is a cheerful riff on the insidious effects of paranoia. Assassins included a character named Index, a researcher on a government contract whose assignment was to identify individuals from the population most likely to attempt to assassinate a President. In order to do this, she studies the profiles of past assassins to determine the traits that are most predictive of their potential to become assassins. She takes this job motivated by enthusiasm for challenging research, but eventually discovers that the “sponsor” of her research is in fact seeking a “fall guy” on whom they can use to blame a staged assassination, an “inside job.”

The character of Index was played by Susan Cash, a stalwart member of the Theater Express troupe for the two years I worked with the company. You can hear her on this clip in the recitative section of the song “They’re calling us crazy…” The lead vocalist in this number is J. L. Smith, and the track was recorded after the workshop production of Assassins at Theater Express in 1978.

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We Serve The Hoove, from Assassins (Day 115)

I’ve just finished digitizing a bunch of old reel-to-reel tapes, and ready to share some more goodies from the distant past. This track from Assassins was recorded by the cast of the workshop production in 1978. It’s a jaunty ditty for a quartet of G-Men called We Serve The Hoove. “The Hoove,” of course, J. Edgar Hoover, and the singers are Joellen Sharp, Nina Levine, Jed Harris and J. L. Smith.

We serve the Hoove,
We are his ears and eyes.
We keep the country wise.
We’re the spy-men, the FBI men.
We serve the Hoove.
We move without a noise.
We’re cloak-and-dagger boys
And when we spring, it’s a thing to see.

We keep a lookout to keep crooks out of the way.
We tell the CIA, “Get the hook out!”
We serve the Hoove,
We serve his every whim.
When things are looking grim, we say:
Gee, it’s great to be a G-Man!
Makes me feel like such a he-man!
We serve the Hoove to pre-serve the Hoove.
That’s why we serve the Hoove.

One learns to follow orders.
One does as one is told.
One finds that inattention
Won’t get you a pension when you’re old.
Who thinks of contradictions?
We think of our careers.
We’re in debt up to our ears.
Our affairs are in arrears,
And one thing everybody fears
Is to be out in the cold. So…

We serve the Hoove.
We keep our asses clean,
If you know what we mean.
We go places where you can’t chase us.
We aim to please,
That’s what we’re paid to do.
Our aim is always true.
If they’re on his list, then they won’t be missed.

When Hoover moves us, it behooves us to obey.
If we get in his way, he removes us!
We serve the Hoove.
We move outside the laws.
We take the risk because we know
If we don’t respect his power,
We’ll be dead in half an hour.
We serve the Hoove to pre-serve the Hoove.
That’s why we serve the Hoove.

We used to be the NDP* back in the Civil War.
We knew the truth about John Wilkes Booth,
And we knew a whole lot more.
We pulled the strings behind lots of things
That you might not have guessed.
We’re the key to the conspiracy,
And we hope that you’re impressed
When we attest that we serve the Hoove!

*The NDP were the National Detective Police, the organization that led the manhunt for Booth after Lincoln’s assassination.

While working on Assassins, I was fascinated with the idea that the assassination of JFK might have been arranged by Hoover’s FBI, and tried to fashion a plot in which a fictional sad-sack character modeled on Oswald was set up to take the blame for the murder of the president. I found the idea of conspiracy and paranoia very intriguing, and was quite smitten with Thomas Pynchon’s V and The Crying of Lot 49 as an impressionable high school reader.

Still, gazing back across the years, I don’t find much about this number pleases me. It’s repetitive and un-funny, and its part-writing makes it too hard to sing. Still, I doff my fedora to salute the quartet that learned and performed it, and I post it for my cousin Chuck, who drove to Pittsburgh in a blizzard with his wife to see the show and still remembers this song title. Happy birthday, cuz!

Squeaky’s Song, from Assassins (Day 113)

Today’s track is definitely a departure from the family-friendly tracks I’ve been posting the past few days. It’s a song from my 1979 musical Assassins that I wrote for the character Squeaky Fromme, and the Squeaker is on my mind these days, as I prepare to talk about the Sondheim-Weidman Assassins in class tomorrow. The song Sondheim wrote for this character is Unworthy of Your Love, and it’s pretty much perfect; this song is, well, not perfect. But definitely of interest.

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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..

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I Can’t Change The Channel, from Watch The Birdie (Day 55)

Happy Ruckusmaker Day! I find Seth Godin’s posts inspiring nearly every day, but today, I was particularly stirred by Seth’s words as he commemorated 60th birthday of Steve Jobs.

Steve’s contribution wasn’t invention. Technology breakthroughs didn’t come out of his basement the way they did from Land or Tesla. Instead, his contribution was to have a point of view. To see something and say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. To not only have a point of view, but to change it when the times demanded.

Most of all, to express that point of view, to act on it, to live with it.

This explains the essence of what makes a ruckusmaker, and the world needs them. My new boss, Joanna Settle, is definitely a ruckusmaker, and deserves mad props for it. But when it comes to making ruckuses, the record will show that I’ve also made my share, and as I approach my sixtieth birthday, I feel like I’ve still got game.

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