Revels 2009. Emma and Trip sing a beautiful ballad while “Marooned” (<– get it??) on the Galapagos Islands. Emma thinks only of the cold Chicago winters and the life of the mind; Trip thinks only of Emma. The brilliant lyrics for this song were written by a man I truly admire and am privileged to count as a friend, the writer Ted Fishman.
This is my second try at writing a real Disney-esque ballad. The first is here.
Emma: Alone in my room, where it’s cold,
I feel ideas burning.
Alone in my room, there’s sunshine,
from the minds of great thinkers.
I sit happy there, in the stale air
Where my only care is for theory.
And here I walk on a tortoise stalk,
On this isle so bleak and dreary.
I miss Hyde Park, I miss the snow,
I miss Hyde Park, Professor’s Row.
The Quad with it’s faux Gothic gates,
The Reg and the late night debates.
Take me home from this tropical bay
To my city gray.
Trip: Out here in the sun, where it’s warm
Cool off, you’re overheating.
Out here in the sun, we have a chance
To live as God’s creatures.
This is no dead rock – it’s chocablock,
All around, life is revolving,
And here we walk on our tortoise stalk,
Down an aisle where we’re evolving.
Embrace my heart, embrace my soul,
Embrace my heart, lose all control.
Our minds in wide open space,
The world is a fine nesting place.
Shake away your tropical blue,
I love you.
E: Embrace your heart?
T: Embrace my soul!
E: But how to start?
T: Oh you will know
Both: We’re like minds about our affection.
We’re each other’s natural selection.
Wherever we roam, we are home.
Revels 2010. In this song, a certain vain Professor Codswollop of the Molecular Biology Department sings about his longing to win the Nobel Prize and get the girl with his mad BioChem skills. His arch-rival professor, Anna Innana of the Environmental Feminism Department overhears him in the bushes and has her retort. My sincere thanks to the lovely Beth Barber for helping out on this video:
Prof: I was just sure when I went into this field that I would quickly rise to the top and soon be flocked by beautiful young admirers. But somehow, it just never worked out that way.
Oh the many hours that I spent pouring o’er my microscope
Oh the prospects dour, and yet, faced with doubt, in spite I’d hoped
That just one final chemical reaction
Would finally lead to my long sought for satisfaction…
I’ve always seemed to have trouble capitalizing on my superior intellect. Why I even remember back in college…
I saw this girl in my class one day
Let me tell ya’ pal — she was quite a gal
I said “Would you like to talk DNA?”
It was a real good line – it worked so very fine.
We met up in the afternoon to study chapter six.
I thought that she was sure to swoon — we’d be the next double helix!
We talked transfection, we talked transduction,
I puckered my lips to try some suction and
She said her goodbyes,
So No Belle, and No Nobel Prize.
TA: But certainly the situation must have improved when you got to graduate school?
Prof: Well, not exactly…
There was this girl in my lab with me,
She was quite a dish — she had all you’d wish,
Style and flair and a Ph.D.
I could sense romance – I shot her a glance.
I showed her my experiment, she’d see I was a pro.
I chose deadly bacteriants to see how large they could grow.
She said, “My, isn’t that awfully precarious?”
“Babe, there is not to fear — I’m not some dufus here.”
I gave her a vile and asked, “Could you carry this?”
It splashed right in her eyes,
So No Belle and No Nobel Prize.
TA: But sir, I thought you nearly won the Nobel Prize at one point. What happened?
Prof: Well, let’s see…
There was this broad on the prize committee
Such a stuffy dame – it seemed such a shame.
I looked real close, and she seemed kinda pretty,
But she was so uptight, I had to be polite.
I gave my presentation on rare eukaryotes.
Much to my grand elation, it seemed I’d carry the votes.
I told this broad my work was real ethereal.
She seemed quite aloof, she required more proof.
When I said, “Would you like to see my genetic material,”
She kicked me in the thighs.
So No Belle and No Nobel Prize.
But the worst accident I ever had was meeting that hideous Professor Anna Innana. She has always stood in my way.
Anna: Now you’ve heard it from the source
From the big mouth of the horse.
He says I stood in his way,
Well, it wasn’t quite like that per se.
He was always hoping and pining for
A girl to fall into his lap, so you see that’s why
I was always running and trying to
Prevent yet another mishap with this hopeless guy.
He thinks he’s smooth, he thinks he’s cool
Well he’s as charming as a mule.
Nobel Prize! Well I declare!
He couldn’t win the science fair.
Him: This wretched shrew, she was always somewhere near
Her: The only thing on my mind was how to spare womankind!
Him: But then again, I can hardly blame the dear.
Her: Every discovery meant some poor girl’s recovery.
Him: She thought I was pursuing her, I must have drove her mad.
Her: What a chauvinist pig, I swear he almost drove me mad.
Him: Without my even wooing her, she’d seen I was quite the lad
Her: How could you dare, you unbearable, terrible cad you are!
Him: Finally I said, “Look, enough’s enough my dear”
Her: I’d had all that I could take,
Both: I’ve got my work to do
Him: And I’m sure you do to.
I’ve got to hurry back to my chromosome
I’ve found a new allele!
Her: What a schlemiel he was!
Him: She’s No Belle, but I’ll have my Nobel Prize
Her: Oh, how I despise him
Him: She’s no Belle but I’ll have my Nobel Prize!
Her: He’s No Belle and he’ll have no Nobel Prize!
I recently wrote some songs for a genuINE Country Club Musical. I had really been wanting to write my own songs, and this was the perfect opportunity to do it. The plot may go down in the annals of Musical Theater as the most inane ever; I say that fully aware of the statement that I’m making.
I wrote music for 5 of the songs and lyrics for two. Here’s one song that I wrote both music and lyrics for, called “Finally I’ll Find the Truth”. It’s sung by a sexy young French foreign exchange student who’s come to the University of Chicago to learn Philosophy the real way.
In France, we have such zest for life,
Our boulevards lined with romance,
But now I seek the rest from life —
A firm philosophical stance.
I’ll leave love behind for the life of the mind,
And find the truth here.
Gone are my nights of passion and bliss,
All that is just for the birds,
No more do I yearn for a passionate kiss,
My passion is only for words.
I’ll tell love, “Adieu,” and I’ll find my milieu
With the truth here.
The games boys play fill me up with ennui,
But here men have brains, so who cares if they’re small and scrawny?
So, now I’m here to pursue without fear
My questions and quand’ries and queries,
I’ll toil away, reading all the day,
for what else can one do in libraries?
I’ll go hit the books and won’t care ’bout my looks,
I’ll work on my proof and remain prim and couth,
While finally finding the truth!
Professor: “But French philosophy has such a rich history of great minds. Why would you want to give that up to come here?”
Emma: “Oh, French philosophers, what a terrible bunch — they never seem to get anything write. Just look at what we’ve had to put up with!”
First, take Montaigne please, can ya please?
For that’s where this mess began to grow.
He was a receptacle for everything skeptical,
But I say, well what does he know?
After it started, it then got Descarted,
Our reason was pushed to the brink,
Well, “Rene,” I say, “you can have your way,
but I am and therefore I think!”
The state of nature you’ll find is great
If your name is Jean Jacques Rousseau,
But it hardly compares to the world of Voltaire’s
The best possible one that I know, Oh!
No stranger a mind are you likely to find
Than the psyche of Albert Camus.
Even sex can read slow when it’s done by Foucault,
Derrida, oh la la, I just have to say “no”!
No, none of these men seek the truth.
So forget those French hacks, they’re not what they seem,
But now I’ve come home to the place of my dreams,
I’m here to discover, no need for a lover,
At night now, my books hold me tight.
Though now I look pretty, I soon will turn gritty,
I’ll grow more aloof while I harbor my youth,
And finally, I’ll find the truth!
And who knows, maybe I’ll even find the time to do some private tutoring… [Professor faints]
Scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, harp, percussion and strings
I wrote this piece for the musicians of the U of C Chamber Orchestra upon my departure as their music director in the spring of 2008. The piece is in three “scenes”, each of which has a waltz at its core.
The above recording was made in a concert on October 5, 2009 at Indiana University with a so-called “Ad Hoc” orchestra. Below is the original recording I made in a concert on May 17, 2008 in Chicago. I include it because the performances are so different. I won’t harp on the fact that the musical quality at IU is, um, of a higher caliber, but I should point out the fact that the rooms are so totally different. The recording above sounds like it was made in a bath-tub; below, we were in a nice dry space. For some reason, I did the opposite of what you’re supposed to do in such situations — the performance in the wetter hall is a full minute faster than the one in the arid hall.
Here is a discussion of my performance history with this piece. Here is a clip from the IU performance, October 2009: