Tag Archives: BGDF

Talk It Through, from BGDF (Day 90)

This is a song from my 1984 musical BGDF, my first adventure into the world of self-producing in New York. The singers are D’Arcy and Gregg Edelman, who play Pat and Ted, a married couple who work together at an advertising agency. It’s a song about what happens when your problems at work start to spill over into your marriage. Both husband and wife address the audience directly when they sing, voicing their thoughts as they progress from self-deluding platitudes to growing despair; in the dialog sections, they speak – or, at any rate, try to – directly to one another, and their conversation repeatedly runs on the rocks of misunderstanding.

This is one of a number of songs that I’ve written about the challenges of being married. I wrote it the first years of our marriage, when I was a pretty lousy husband, if the truth be told – self-absorbed and uncommunicative, a constant source of frustration to my high-spirited partner. Somehow, amazingly, we hung in there; I managed to extract my head from my ass a bit more often and participate actively in our relationship, and 35 years later, we’re still together, older and wiser and often happier. I’m still a work in progress, however, and I’m sure my self-absorbed behavior continues to tax the patience of those who are closest to me. I’m so sorry about that!

I think I’ve written elsewhere about Gregg Edelman, who was not long out of college when we cast him in BGDF, a graduate of Northwestern who had recently arrived on the New York scene. It’s been wonderful to observe the trajectory of his professional career – he appeared in the premiere productions of City of Angels and Passion and major revivals like Into The Woods, Wonderful Town and Drood.

We have the perfect arrangement as man and wife.
You’ll understand once you’ve seen us
When there’s a problem between us.
We talk things out like mature adults do.
We get results, too,
Wait and see.
Listen, honey…

There is no better prescription for married strife.
When there are signs of dissention,
We try an ounce of prevention.
Being frank will keep things tranquil,
That’s a guarantee.
We share our views enthusiastically.

TED: It’s better not to let things fester.
If something has distressed her,
Pat is certain to reveal it.

PAT: If there’s a burden, then we share it.
Who wants to grin and bear it?

BOTH: It makes no sense to try to conceal it.
So here’s our simple solution for wedded life:
Not talking kills like a cancer.
Communication’s the answer!
You can bet that we don’t let our pride get in the way.
That might jeopardize our repartee.
When we’re feeling blue,
We just talk it through.
All we have to do is…

[Dialog – their conversation doesn’t go as well as planned.]

TED: I never lose my composure at times like these.
We’ve just a minor delay here.
Let’s see now, what can I say here?
Something that oozes with warmth and candor.
I understand her,
I aim to please.

PAT: It’s hard to say why I’m feeling so ill-at-ease.
You mustn’t get the impression
I’m on the verge of depression!
I fell almost sure that our rapport will save the day.
We’ll speak our mind and love will find a way.

TED: I can explain my hesitation.
This sort of situation has all kinds of dangers in it.

PAT: I know it may sound like a dumb thing,
But if we don’t say something,
I’m gonna lost my mind in a minute!

BOTH: Won’t you do something to end this?
I’m on my knees!
I’d start if I was prepared to.
The simple truth is, I’m scared to.
I’m afraid the fact is we don’t practice what we preach.
But talk to me,
We still can be okay.

TED: I’m as scared as you.

PAT: Can’t we talk this through?

BOTH: All we have to do is…

If you missed them, these are the songs already posted on Project 194; the links on the right are songs chosen at random from previous posts. Want to contribute to my interactive composition, “Hear My Song?” Read more here. Want to receive daily songs delivered direct to your inbox? Sign up here!

Hi Mom, from Watch the Birdie (Day 48)

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 9.02.56 PMThe family album continues to grow on Project 194, with a double dose of Hi, Mom, a song that was originally composed for BGDF but wound up in the various editions of Watch The Birdie. The first track is sung by Alex Keiper in 2008:

This second one’s by Krysta Bernhardt, who performed it in a production that we did in NYC as the senior showcase for UArts MT’s ten years earlier:

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Listen, Friend, from BGDF (Day 44)

As Valentine’s Day draws closer, it’s only right and proper that we hear from my Valentine, the one and only D’Arcy Webb, who made her off-off-Broadway debut singing opposite Gregg Edelman in my musical BGDF in 1984. This was the first foray into New York for both of us, and it was a hair-raising experience, but luckily we got a lot of help from our friend Richard Aumiller, a classmate and pal of mine from Delaware days who’d made the move a few years earlier and established himself in a Hells Kitchen walkup. Dick not only agreed to direct the show (and wound up doing a lot of the heavy lifting of producing an Equity-approved showcase) but came to our rescue when the apartment we sublet turned out to be an unspeakable chamber of filth and saved the day with a mop and a sponge. The one redeeming feature of our grimy sublet was that it had a piano, on which I composed this tune. Give it a listen, and I’ll meet you down below the lyric for a few afterthoughts.

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Blue Satin Mood, from BGDF (Day 40)

The third tune in my Valentine’s Day Week medley is a particularly sensual one: Blue Satin Mood, from my 1984 musical BGDF. The singer is Debbie Silver, a talented young woman I’m embarrassed to say I’ve lost track of since then (see below for more about my Internet sleuthing). The recording was made in director Richard Aumiller’s Hells Kitchen walk-up with Nehemiah “Hank” Leftwich at the piano. Debbie played Dee Alexander, a graphic designer and free spirit about to hook up with an advertising executive named Avery Shapiro. Avery’s divorced and feeling insecure about his charms, as he reveals in his song “This Year’s Model.” Meanwhile Dee is in the next room, and her thoughts as she prepares for her assignation with Avery are more focused on her own pleasure. Eventually, they sing their respective soliloquies in counterpoint before they come together; alas, technical flaws in the recording prevent me from presenting you with the full duet, and this excerpt will have to suffice!

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Project 194, Day 11: The Truth Will Make Us Free

This is the first song in Project 194 that I’ve included from my musical B.G.D.F., a show that I wrote over the period 1982-84. The singer here is a very young Gregg Edelman, who plays the role of Ted, a copywriter in an advertising agency (which is what the initials in the title of the show refer to). Gregg had just arrived in New York City, fresh from Northwestern University; since then, he’s gone on to have a very interesting career, originating, among others, the role of Stine, the writer, in City of Angels, and Cliff Bradshaw in the Broadway revival of Cabaret directed by Hal Prince. Three writers – do you detect a pattern here? The pianist is Hank Leftwich, and my chum Dick Aumiller directed this production and let us use his apartment to record these tracks.

I was a college student back in 1968.
Majoring in English Lit,
I was into all kinds of shit.
Brothers and sisters,
That’s what we were in ’68,
And it was great.
Give us a cause and we’d demonstrate!

I showed a lot of promise
Back in 1968.
Boy, that kid could really write!
People praised me left and right back then.
I guess I had a lot to learn
But it was wonderful back then to know
The truth would make us free
The truth would make us free.

I was a campaign manager back in 1972
Working as a volunteer.
“Save the world” was my trip that year.
Movers and shapers,
That’s what we were in ’72,
A cocky crew.
There wasn’t a thing that we couldn’t do.

Everyone still had dreams to dream in 1972.
I could really write a speech.
I knew what to say to reach the crowd.
I guess I had a lot to learn
But it was wonderful back then to know
The truth would make us free
The truth would make us free.

I’m a writer, I’m a pro,
You would think that I should know
That a writer who can show the truth is really needed.
Nowadays I hardly try
Has my talent all run dry?
I wonder where in the hell is the truth
Now that I need it?

I work in advertising now, it’s 1982.
Things are different nowadays.
My job’s a fraud, but at least it pays.
Getting and spending,
That’s where it’s at in ’82,
I’m telling you.
I write what the client says is true.

Who can say what’s right or wrong in 1982?
It all depends on point of view
It all depends on what and who you are, right?
Well, look at me,
How much I earn.
I must still naive,
‘Cause I still believe
The truth will make us free!
The truth will make us free…
But no one knows the truth,
Especially me.

It’s often hard to look back on my old work without cringing, but this is a creation from thirty years ago that brings me considerable pleasure and a feeling of pride when I examine it now. The music has a plangent, melancholy quality that tugs at my heart, and the harmonic language is rich and evocative. Gregg does a brave and skillful job of navigating a challenging and expressive melodic line; of course there are little clams (clam-ettes), notes that need to be tuned, and the piano (it was a spinet in director Dick Aumiller’s apartment) needs tuning too, but this one’s not as much of a cringe-maker as I expected.

What strikes me about it today is my obsession with the theme of promise and loss, one that I returned to with What Happened To The Song in Realities. It seems like I continue to fuss (through the mouthpiece of the characters I’ve written for) over the question of squandered potential – both songs are sung by characters considering the promise and how differently things turned out from what we expected. As I’ve noted before, I feel nostalgia for my youth – it was a great time, and I often think how much I’d give to be able to go back to a time I recall as being characterized by enormous vigor, enthusiasm, creativity. I was too young and stupid to know to be afraid or constrained by what I wasn’t allowed to do, and I hadn’t been seduced by the effects of a comfortable life. Now I’m more comfortable, that’s certain, and I enjoy a certain feeling of wisdom and experience that feels (on good days, anyway) like it gives me power and depth and status. But still – being young has its advantages.

If you missed them, these are the songs already posted on Project 194. Want to receive daily songs delivered direct to your inbox? Sign up here!