Tag Archives: demo

Bloom Where You’re Planted (Day 194)

Sparklers for 60 Welcome to the 194th post of Project 194! It’s the thirteenth of July, 2015, my sixtieth birthday, and in case you need reminding, I started posting a song a day on this blog back on January 1, at the beginning of the new year. Along the way, I’ve revisited a lot of work from my archives, and it’s been enormously gratifying to reacquaint myself with the projects and artists that have filled my days over the past years. I’ve also continued to create new work, and have shared some of that, including the score for The Brave Little Tailor, which was presented dozens of times in May and June.

It’s only fitting that I wind up this endeavor with an original song, one that appears here for the first time. The phrase “bloom where you’re planted” is one that I hit upon as a potential title years ago; I thought it might belong in A Tiny Miracle, a story about growing and about discovering one’s purpose in life. Later, I thought it might serve in the ending of Leading Lady, since that story ends with Mae’s decision to stay in Philadelphia and try to make a go of things at a modest and dilapidated venue in Kensington called (appropriately enough) the Peoples’ Theater before it is renamed the Desmond Theater. That was the occasion when I began work on this particular tune and the first few lines of the lyric. It was only recently, though, when I was inspired to finish the song, an unexpected gift from my muse whose message serves nicely as an epigram for Project 194.

The last 193 days have reminded me that all sorts of things have bloomed under my stewardship in the past years. D’Arcy is familiar with a certain sigh that I emit each year in early June at the end of the Tony Awards broadcast, a sigh that can be translated as, “Oh well, no Tony for me this year.” Indeed, it is all too easy to dismiss the work that has “devoured my days” (as Brecht’s “The Doubter” puts it) as being of little consequence when measured against the arbitrary standards of Broadway. But this blog contains nearly 200 blooms of creativity, some quirky and misshapen, others elegant and quite fine, each one a reflection of its maker and his collaborators.

I offer a grateful salute to all those who’ve helped me make this work. There are so many who’ve said “yes” to me over the years, “yes” to my proposals and my requests and my (sometimes harebrained) ideas. If you fall into this category, please know that I owe you more than I can ever repay, though this brief song may serve as a credit against the balance due. Leonard Bernstein said, “I’m no longer quite sure what the question is, but I do know that the answer is Yes.” That seems like a fine thought to hold in my heart as I begin my seventh decade. “yes is a pleasant country,” to quote a favorite lowercase bard, e. e. cummings. Yes, I will bloom where I’m planted. Yes.

Bloom where you’re planted
Don’t take the benefits of home for granted.
There’s a grace to be found in a place that you know,
One that helps you grow

So you better mind where your roots are.
That’s where you’ll find the most remarkable fruits are.
Each kind of field has its bounty to yield
If you have faith and dig in.

Everyone should have a chance to roam.
Helps you to appreciate what’s there at home.
If you just can trust what you’re made of,
You’ll find nothing to be afraid of!

Bloom where you’re planted,
Where conditions are the most enchanted.
Though your spot may not seem like a lot,
You’ve got room,
Room enough to zoom!
You should just assume when you’re planted
You’re gonna bloom!

You can have your own special Eden.
All it takes is some care and feedin’ and you’ll
Bloom where you’re planted
Where conditions are the most enchanted.
Though your spot may not seem like a lot,
You’ve got room,
Room enough to zoom!
You should just assume when you’re planted
You’re gonna bloom!

A Dream for Christmas (Day 192)

The last three songs I’m planning to post on Project 194 all have a particular personal meaning for me. I wrote “A Dream for Christmas” as a Christmas present for D’Arcy many years ago. This is a composer’s demo of the song with me in a particularly soulful mood. I know, it’s the middle of summer, and Christmas is the last thing any of us are thinking of, but there’s so much love and so much truth in this song that I have to share it now!

Looks like we made it through another year.
Let’s share some Christmas cheer,
What do you say?
Although our future’s not exactly clear,
At least we made it here
And we’re okay.
It’s Christmas Eve at a quarter to two.
The kids are sleeping, and there’s plenty to do,
But come sit with me by the Christmas tree
And you can open up my present to you.

I want to give you A Dream For Christmas
And wrap it sweetly in a song,
A dream of comfort and joy
To make our holidays seem beautiful
And last the whole year long.

I know the money isn’t always there.
There isn’t much to spare,
God knows its true.
We’ve learned to manage with the cupboard bare,
Though we try not to care,
Sometimes we do.
Though means are meager, we seem to get by
‘Cause dreams are always in ample supply
And the dream we share is a gift that’s rare.
It brings up happiness and harmony
That’s sure to linger when the Christmas tree is a memory.

I want to give you A Dream For Christmas
And wrap it sweetly in a song,
A dream of comfort and joy
To make the holidays seem beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
And make each day a holiday all year long.

A Lover And His Lass, from As You Like It (Day 63)

Today’s Shakespeare jam is the last of the songs I composed for the 1998 UArts production of As You Like It, A Lover And His Lass.

IT was a lover and his lass,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
That o’er the green corn-field did pass,
In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

Between the acres of the rye,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
These pretty country folks would lie,
In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

This carol they began that hour,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
How that life was but a flower
In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

And, therefore, take the present time
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
For love is crown`d with the prime
In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

Big River 1For some reason, I thought of the songs of Roger Miller when I faced the challenge of setting this text. My musical tastes have always been wonky, even from my teenage years, and I owned an LP of Roger Miller’s songs. Musical theater types know Roger Miller wrote the songs for Big River (which D’Arcy and I appeared in with Forrest McClendon a few years ago), and music lovers of a certain age may recall King Of The Road, but I got a real kick from his comedy novelty songs like Chug-A-Lug, Doo-Wacka-Doo and You Can’t Roller Skate In A Buffalo Herd. (This, by the way, is the magic of the Internet – that I can think of Roger Miller and be looking at a list of 22 of his albums in no time at all.) My collection of LPs also included Tiny Tim (“Tiptoe Thru the Tulips” was weirdly intriguing to me after I saw Tiny Tim sing it on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In) and The Bee Gees (actually, pretty mainstream in 1970), along with the discs of Stravinsky and Samuel Barber that I borrowed from the county library. God bless my parents, they never seemed too alarmed by my abnormal musical curiosity. Anyway, the ding-a-ding-ding part of Shakespeare’s text got me thinking about Miller’s playful use of funny sounds and words, and the result is what you hear here. As with the previous demos, you need to supply the proper instrumentation using your imagination – guitar and banjo would be the ideal combination, with a thumping upright bass on 1 and 3.

Wedding Anthem, from As You Like It (Day 62)

This morning, a song that honors marriage, one the comes from Shakespeare’s As You Like It (like the songs I posted yesterday and the day before):

Wedding is great Juno’s crown,
O blessèd bond of board and bed.
‘Tis Hymen peoples every town.
High wedlock then be honorèd.
Honor, high honor, and renown,
To Hymen, god of every town.

This song was written intentionally in a gospel style, and we were fortunate to have a terrific young singer, Wynter Spears, to deliver the message. On this track, you’ll hear me trying to approximate the stylings of Mahalia Jackson, and I’ll leave it to you to be the judge of my effectiveness.

For a contrasting point of view on the topic of marriage, listen to Who Wants To Be Married?, from my most recent musical, Leading Lady. Actually, this song is a bit of a head-fake: it is skeptical about the idea of marriage until the end, when the two characters experience a change of heart.

As a guy who’s been married for nearly 35 years, I consider myself an experienced commentator, and I’m definitely a fan. Of course, marrying the right individual is key, and luckily, I managed to do that. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine two people more dissimilar than D’Arcy and me, and there are still times, even after all these years of companionship, when those differences lead to conflict and unhappiness. Nevertheless, I remain convinced that what makes us different is part of what makes us great as a couple: we complete each other, we complement each other in countless ways, and that means we are greater together than we are separately. I wish more people could be as lucky as we are.

Hey, if you haven’t seen it yet, there’s a story about Project 194 on the website musicalmakers.com. The author is Carol De Giere, who’s the author of Defying Gravity, the definitive Stephen Schwartz bio, and her most recent book, The Godspell Experience, is a comprehensive resource for scholars and fans of that historic 1970 musical.

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!

New Untitled Melody (Day 25)

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned how certain tunes seem to show up unexpectedly, and cited as an example a little Latin melody that arrived while I was working earlier this week. I thought it would be fun to share that melody, for the edification of those who might be interested in a glimpse of my creative process!

Music ms

Continue reading