Tag Archives: Forrest

Project 194, Day 2: What Happened To The Song?

What Happened To The Song?

The singer is Forrest McClendon. The year is 1996. The story is below, after the lyric.

Realities photoI knew a guy
A lifetime ago,
A bona-fide genius,
Eccentric and shy.
He had a gift
For making music,
And he played his guitar
With a faraway look in his eye.
A white boy with soul,
His songs had feeling.
How well I remember
The music we made!
We sang of joy,
We sang of freedom,
And the passion of youth
Added truth to the songs that we played.

And I’m wondering what happened to the song?
I was hoping maybe you could tell me what went wrong?
Yes, what happened to the music, do you know?
What became of the promise of all those years ago?

I still recall
When you had your first woman.
It was at my apartment
One evening in May.
I found the girl.
I thought you might blow it,
But you captured her heart
From the moment you started to play.
You had a car,
A silver Camaro,
And so we got wasted
And went for a ride.
We dropped the top
And made for the highway.
From the back of the car,
Your guitar echoed far and wide

And I’m wondering what happened to the song?
I was hoping maybe you could tell me what went wrong?
Yes, what happened to the music, do you know?
What became of the promise of all those years ago?

You never knew
I wanted to be you.
Yes, you were my hero,
I never confessed.
I thought getting high
Might possibly free you
But I knew you were great,
Even straight you were truly the best.
But now you’ve changed,
You’re angry and bitter.
Your guitar’s in the closet,
Your hope’s put away.
Where did it go,
That feeling of freedom?
Now you’re stuck in your chair,
How unfair that it turned out this way!

And I’m wondering what happened to the song?
I was hoping maybe you could tell me what went wrong?
Yes, what happened to the music, do you know?
What became of the promise of all those years ago?

Yes, I’m wondering what happened to the song?
I was hoping maybe you could tell me what went wrong?
Yes, what happened to the music, do you know?
What became of the promise of all those years ago?

In the early nineties, playwright Steve Hochman and I spent several years working on a musical called Realities. Our story was an original one: Alex Inman, a wheelchair-bound uber-geek, strove to escape the limitations of his shattered body in virtual worlds “behind the screen,” but in the end, chose to forsake his cyber-paradise and live in a highly imperfect real world that offered the promise of love. The piece had two readings, the second of which was co-produced by First Stage and the University of the Arts in 1996, which is when this recording was made. The photo shows Matt Cloran as Alex, in the wheelchair, getting some tough love from his best friend, Miles, played by Forrest McClendon.

This lyric is almost unbearably poignant for me to read: “What became of the promise of all those years ago?” is a loaded question to ask in the context of a retrospective like this one. Unlike my fictional protagonist, I never put my (metaphorical) guitar in the closet, but the image of the young troubadour roaring out songs of truth from the back of a silver Camaro fills me with an intense nostalgia. That’s why I get a pang from Picasso’s words I quoted in my first post:

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

I have to confess that I can’t listen to this without thinking about Forrest saying yes to my invitation to come to Philly and teach at UArts back then. Those circumstances give an even richer meaning to the lyric “the promise of all those years ago.” The years since then have brought us both amazing opportunities, and I remain grateful for the wonderful relationship we enjoy as friends and fellow artist-educators.

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