The Music Of JC Harris

positively the most intelligent progressive rock on this here planet

positively the most intelligent progressive rock on this here planet

Detroit: The Story

Act 1

Overture: 1973 Day Factory

Eddie Powell, a retired, black auto worker who acts as our chorus, introduces the scene. A group of business people and politicians are gathered around a podium for what appears to be a ceremony. Behind them is a fenced work site in the dilapidated neighbourhood. Inside the fence is the old Victorian house from the 20’s about to be demolished.

The house is in shadow. At stage left on the edge is Eddie Powell inside a beat up 60′s era Cadillac with his arm out the window. At stage front right is Son at a podium speaking to the choir (dressed as citizens.) There is a construction fence behind them with construction equipment.

Overture

Overture To Act I?

Now when Donny was in his prime.
He could make a lot of silver from his stocks.
He could promise himself he could run it himself
He could make a whole world out of blocks.
He wanted to pay them and give it a shot
And he would end up on top.
Man, there was nothing that he couldn’t make.
Except a mess.

II
There’s broken glass in the yards.
Where the iron ore steamers used to stop.
Every promise they made.
Every summer we played.
Now it’s raining outside at the docks.

I want to be fair.
Not easily shocked.
But were we ever on top?

Man there was nothing that we couldn’t take.
Except the mess.

Detroit 2009

Scene 1 1919 Day Driving

Grandfather stands proudly in front of his new house. He is a young man and the owner of a newspaper stand. He is very excited because all the construction in this city means more opportunity for him. Everyday day he drives his truck all around the city delivering papers. Every night returning home to his wife to regale her with tales of the rapidly growing city; the high tech capital of the world.

The House is moved to mid-stage. The scenery is that of an upper-middle Detroit neighbourhood circa 1920. A tree-lined boulevard. Sounds of children playing. Grandfather is in front at the driveway getting ready to get in his car and make his daily drive.

Who Do You Think?

Who Do You Think??

Every morning when I wake up.
And I see my family resting there.
Knowing it’s a great time for the future.
And flowers blooming everywhere

Wonderful to be in this line.
In the right place
At the right time.
You can even see it in their faces
Rise and fall
We will have it all.

But even in this morning light
The sunny times and rain
I never stop to analyze
About their joys and pain
There’s so much interest within this town
That’s swimming all around
But it seems I’m only living for…
The drive.

Look at me!

I’m driving…

Listen to me.
Listen to me
Listen to me
Listen to me.

You grab the handle
Get this damn thing out of park
From the bottom of river
We’ll be speeding to the top

I roll down the screen
As we roll down the street
And I wave at everybody
That I long to meet
Hang on!

Because I’m driving…

Now who do you think makes the whole thing run?
Makes the cars from the flame
In the morning sun.

And who do you think makes the whole thing go?

Makes your heart want to break
The world there to take
My life
And Detroit
I believe in you.

Hang on!

But even in the traffic lights
The spinning wheels go round
The only thing that’s in my mind
And every wind and sound

And every mile that goes on by
I think I
Know that I am
On the rise
And so I
And I will only be here for…
A while

(What am I talking about?)

I’m driving…

Grandather
Listen to me.

Lilian
Listen to me.

Eddie
Listen to me.

All
Listen to me.

You’ve got your hand
Put it right here on your heart
From the bottom of the river
We’ll be driving to the top
I roll down the screen
And I roll down the street
And I wave at everybody
That I long to meet

Hang on!
Hang on!

It’s gonna be wonderful (Marvelous)
Something else (Only life)
We’re gonna see all the thing we can be
(Shiny as a penny on a moonlit night)
And I’ll love you

You know it’s coming true!

Now who do you think makes the whole thing run?
Makes my heart skip a beat
When the evening comes

And who do you think makes the whole thing go?
Makes your heart want to break
The world there to take
My life
And Detroit
We believe in you.

Hang on.

Seattle 2012

Scene 2 1942 Morning Front Of House

America is at war with Japan. We now see Donald for the first time as a young man. He is wearing a uniform and is on his way to deploy for the Pacific. He is enthusiastic and determined to make his father proud of him. One by one, neighbours gather around the house to wish him good luck. Something of an impromptu parade breaks out.

March

Scene 3 1946 Afternoon House

Donald has returned from WW II and is obviously depressed. Father meets him at a local bar and encourages him to snap out of his depression. Thinking to commiserate, he recounts his own suffering upon first coming to America. He then reveals that he has a ready-made business opportunity to share with him. Instead of being excited, Donald explodes with anger. Father is clueless and turns away in horror. He now realizes just how truly damaged his son really is.

Grandfather tells Donald he’d like to start a business together and pick up where they left off. But on the way back he realises that his son is suffering from a terrible PTSD. Donald is angry and wants nothing from anyone. Grandfather is stunned and realises right then that their house will never be the same and they will soon leave it.

New Song

New Song?

Grandfather…

Break out a story. I’ll tell you a new one.
Break out a story and I will tell you
Of when I was alone.
There where stones in my path
Til I pulled the rubies right out of my arse
And showed you the truth
Of what I’d do
For life
For love
For you are my son.

Take back that story
Forget the things you’ve done.
Stake out a portion of life
I’m holding
To build a life.
To build a home.
It all goes by so fast.
If you can’t retrieve yourself
From out of that past

Show me right now what you will do
For me
And you
And soon for your son.

Son…

I can’t hear you.
I can’t hear you any more.
I can’t here you.
Shouting at me any more.
I can’t hear you.
I can’t hear that any more.
Even if everything is true
And everything you’ve done.

For that was 25 years ago.
(no!)
That was 35 years ago.
(no!)
That was 45 years ago.
(no!)
That was 55 years ago.
That was 65 years ago.
That was 75 years ago.
It will be 85 years ago… and more!

Seattle 2012

Scene 4 1947 Afternoon House

The son is restless. He sees all the growth in this city but he does not want to simply follow in his father’s footsteps. He wants to be his own success. But he doesn’t know how. He announces that he is leaving the house to buy a place in the suburbs.

Benefit

Benefit?

I
Have no fear that I am drowning
My head is above the waves.
Though it seems that storms always surround me
I have no need to be saved.

I will live my life like everyone
as full as any man.
And do the things that God requires
Within my given span.

II
And do for others all the things I could not find myself.
I will not remain with past regrets
when my life is through.

…Well… not quite true.
…I think of you.

III
I’ve begun to see the benefits
Of life here on my own.
You may say that I am by myself
But it’s clear I’m not alone
I deflect attention from the self and
And put my strength in toward all those who far more need help.

IV
(Solo)

So if you see the benefit
Of life beyond yourself
Of doing things that come from within
You can get
Forsaking all the vast rewards
On which I once aspired
Within true light

Coda

Seattle 2012

Scene 5 1949 Afternoon House

Grandmother is introduced to an auto worker Stanley and his wife Irene by Eddie Powell who acts as the family’s part time handyman. She decides that this young couple would be perfect to take the house and build their own family. She arranges to sell them the house on unbelievably generous terms; she feels like the house has been damaged by the war and desperately wants it to again be a place where a happy family is raised.

Tear Down The House

Tear Down The House?

Tear down the house
That my grandfather built.
There’s nothing left to keep these bones
But I see them still.

Tear down every house
But build your own new dream.

He raised a family.
He built a business.
He served his country
And made the difference,

That won the war and
Conceived inventions.
A Golden Age.
All things that you can’t see.

Seattle 2012

Act 2

Overture

Grandfather decides to make a very long drive to pick up his son he plans to start a business together and pick up where they left off. But on the way back he realises that his son is suffering from a terrible PTSD. The son is angry and wants nothing from anyone. Grandfather is stunned and realises right then that their house will never be the same and they will soon leave it.

The house is hidden. In mid-center stage is a new car. Grandfather is inside, with the window down and his arm hanging out. A film plays on the backdrop showing scenes of the countryside as he drives to the army base to pick up his Son.

Growth

Scene 1 1946 Day Driving

Grandfather decides to make a very long drive to pick up his son he plans to start a business together and pick up where they left off. But on the way back he realises that his son is suffering from a terrible PTSD. The son is angry and wants nothing from anyone. Grandfather is stunned and realises right then that their house will never be the same and they will soon leave it.

The house is hidden. In mid-center stage is a new car. Grandfather is inside, with the window down and his arm hanging out. A film plays on the backdrop showing scenes of the countryside as he drives to the army base to pick up his Son.

Never Thought I

Never Thought I?

Never thought I would give in to this moment.
Never thought I would be afraid.
I had planned to be a lifetime.
But I don’t feel the same.

Seattle 2012

Scene 2 1951 Day House

It’s 1951. Across from the house, a new auto plant is being built. Eddie Powell, the family handyman, gets a job there. Liam and Lil, reeling from their son’s disaffection decide it’s time to sell the house. Eddie introduces Lil to a fellow auto worker Stanley and his wife Irene. She decides that this young couple would be perfect to take the house and build their own family. She arranges to sell them the house on unbelievably generous terms. Stanley and Irene can’t believe their luck. Liam and Lil move to the suburbs.

Outstanding

Scene 3 1967 Night House

It’s a riot.

The house is dark but for one light in an upper window, with faces looking out.

Dancing In The Streets

Scene 4 1968 Night Interior House

We see a split screen of all three families. Each watching their TVs as Apollo 8 orbits the earth and shows the first pictures of the earth. It is the apex of America. The Tigers have won the World Series. In spite of the previous years’ riots, everyone is optimistic about the future.

Apollo

Apollo?

He was too tired to think.
And yet he thought of you.
The rain that fell down his face
Was nothing new.

Surrounded by that fire.
And shrill and raging quiet.

Detroit 1994

All three families watching TV as Apollo 8 shows the first pictures ever seen of earth from space. December 1968.

Scene 5 1969 Day Exterior

Stanley in front of his house, just as Liam was thirty years earlier. But he’s not optimistic. He’s not feeling well. He thinks it’s just because there are rumours about the factory.

What A Wonderful World!

What A Wonderful World!?

I’m a guy who loves his job.
Work all day. Sometimes nights.
I’m a guy who loves his job.
Wonder if I’ll always feel that way?

Now there’s a guy who lost his job.
Worked my shift.
Left this note.
Near the gun in his garage.
Guess he didn’t think he’d be retrained.

And he said:

If you take a look at what is happening
You won’t look long before
You will find that there’s nothing left at the factory.
Most of what I walked in for is gone.
And I don’t think it will be very long
Before there’s nothing left.

No more hours.
No more clock.
No more check every week.

We can’t understand how this all worked out?

(CHORUS)

We made more tires
And forged more steel
But have no jobs
So who buys the wheels
There is no way to understand
What we held in our hands
What a wonderful world this was
And still is

Oh what world that we made happen
Everything built with a smile
Building a dream that reached everybody
Building a dream so wild!

CHORUS

Story time is over.
You can all go home

Detroit 1994

When I came to America, so many people had good jobs. It seemed like an equilibrium had been established for working people. Who knew?

Scene 6 1970 Day Interior

Stanley is off work and in a hospital bed in his bedroom. He’s very sick and worried about what will become of his family. He is angry. Although he has tried to keep up his house, the neighborhood around him is declining. His family is the only white people left and many houses are abandoned.

Hold You Nightly

Hold You Nightly?

Don’t ask me.
I don’t think you want to know.
I only noticed
When I wanted to be with you.
Beneath these things that haunted you.
Sure you know it’s only there for love.

Don’t ask me.
I don’t think we’re meant to understand.
I only knew I wanted to be with you.
I lived my life
Always beholden of you.
What more could you
Want I’d give for

To hold you nightly
Love you rightly.
Show you everything
Deep down within my heart.
To grieve so badly.
Love you madly.
And show you everything within my heart.

Because I know.
Yes I know.
Yes I know.
Yes I know.

Test add.

Detroit 1995

Scene 7 1970 Day Exterior

Stanley has died and, Irene is moving out. Unlike Lil before her, she has no interest in who comes next and in fact, makes a point of knowing nothing about the new owner. The factory is about to shut down.

The Wrecking Ball

?

Act 3

Overture

We’ve come full circle, back to the ceremony which opened Act I. The entire neighborhood has gathered outside the fence to watch the big speech, including Eddie Powell, Liam, his grandson and Johnny. Around the podium are numerous local politicians with Donald.

The house is in shadow. At stage front right is Son at a podium speaking to the choir (dressed as citizens.) There is a construction fence behind them with construction equipment.

The Electric Twist

Scene 1 1971 Day House

Donald has a moment to himself to ready himself for the biggest moment of his life. All his plans depend on this speech going well. He considers the people around him and what it all means for himself and Detroit.

The Gang’s All Here

The Gang's All Here?

Hey, hey the gang’s all here.
Looks like something else is coming
Coming every year
I guess that you could say that I was pretty all alone.
Alone.

Hey, hey the gang’s all here.
Didn’t want to to tell me but the meaning’s very clear
I get that you could tell that I had nothing more to say.
But I get it all the way
And I hear it everyday.
Now I’m gone.
I’m gone.

Hey, hey the gang’s all here.
Looks like we spent a life time
Getting someting for these tears.

Seattle 2012

Scene 2 1971 Day House

Inside the house, Mrs.Little is watching her TV. She is watching her favourite program—her local preacher who broadcasts from a well-known Gospel church. She is overweight and often doesn’t feel well enough to get there in person, but watching on TV still makes her feel connected and excited. Although she sits, she is highly animated with her enjoyment.

Joy, joy, joy

Joy, Joy, Joy?

Every day you wake up you feel it’s somehow dangerous.

And even with so many people,
You still feel alone.

I understand my friend about being alone.
But I’m here to tell you, No worry!
Because we all are going home.

(Chorus)
Joy, joy, joy.
I believe there’s joy in store.
I believe that it’s all coming to be
And will be here before we know.

Joy, joy, joy.
I believe there’s joy in store.
I can see that it’s all coming to me
It will be here before we know.

Do you cry at night?
I feel it in me,
Have you felt the pain?
Oh yes I have.
Can you think that nobody else will help us up?

But I don’t cry anymore
Tell us why you don’t.
I don’t feel the pain.

I know that somebody else will help us up.
Going up

(Chorus)

Seattle 2012

Scene 3 1971 Day House

Just as he is about to hit the stage, Donald sees Liam pull up with his grandson. They are both there for moral support, but somehow, their presence gives him a sense of foreboding. He ponders why he is so determined to make his father proud and yet has been so at odds with him—just as his son is doing to him.

I Fall Down

I Fall Down?

I never knew my father.
All the times I saw him;
Walking by,
With only his hat in hand.

I never watched him, often
But if there was a love gone.
I know that now it was within me
but now I fear it is gone.

All the way,
All the way.
I fall down.
All the way.

I never knew my father
Only by his hat and the way he wore his coat.
It didn’t take much to wear him down
before the end came.
Hot, cold feelings
coming over me.
But in my eyes
and in my face,
something never leaves.

And in my eyes before me.
There is a place gone.
But in my thoughts before this time,
I wonder if you saw?

All these times.
All these places I have gone.
All the things that I would feel
If you were there.

But now and then.
Middle age and thinning hair.
I always wonder,
if you cared.

Can it be so obsessive;
so extreme that all that I would give?

To mean it all
To think of it at all

So that we all could name?

But in my eyes before me.
There is a name to trust.
But in my thoughts
There is a rage that went away.
I go down.
I go down.
I go down,
for you anywhere.
For you anywhere.
For you anywhere,
…all the way.

Seattle 2012

Scene 4 1971 Day House

Donald’s teenage son is outside the fence. Although he is a typical teenager and at odds with his father, Donald has insisted he be there. Besides, he gets to hang with Johnny.

Hey Johnny!

Hey Johnny!?

Hey Johnny!
Where are you going with that gun?
If it’s strictly for protection, then why are you showin’ everyone?

Now here’s the problem:
You think you’re lookin’ real rough.
But when they take your little toy from you,
You won’t feel so tough.

Johnny you’re a victim of a televised world
That tells you lies everyday.
And makes you think there’s only one number
That’ll ever come up.

Johnny won’t listen to anybody sayin’ that his life’s too much.
‘Cause’ everybody else is too scared to see Johnny hooked up.

Hey Johnny!
You aren’t lookin’ so tough.
When they used your little toy on you it must have felt real rough.

(Hey Johnny?)

Detroit 1994

Hand guns are really cool for teens. And here's the great part! They're not just for gangs anymore like when I wrote this.

Scene 5 1971 Day House

Donald begins his speech, beginning with a lament on the lack of big vision. He want to encourage his community to take on a massive project to rebuild the neighborhood.

At that moment, Johnny and grandson’s antics are noticed by the police who consider them a threat. Grandson freezes but Johnny runs off the stoop and is shot by the police. Mrs. Little comes out of the house and starts screaming.

The crowd notices the commotion and begins reacting. Donald tries to carry on with his speech, but the moment is clearly lost. It even begins raining. In mid-sentence, he simply abandons the stage.

We Don’t Build Great Things

?

Scene 6 1973 Evening Driving

Grandfather goes to the police station to bail out Grandson and Johnny. As he reaches the station, he sees Grandson crying outside. He learns that Johnny has been killed by the police.

He offers to take grandson back home but grandson says that he has no home. He says that he hates Detroit. Detroit, was built on a lie. People bought cars, but the cars were not very good. And now that they cannot sell cars, no one cares about the city. The city only existed as long as people could make money. My father is only trying to make money. He doesn’t care about the city. In fact, the city destroys everyone, and now it’s destroying itself.

Grandfather begins crying. They walk to Grandfather’s car and get in. Grandfather stars driving, without direction. Without realising, instead of the freeway, he takes what would have been in his day a scenic drive, matching the drive he used to make in the beginning of the opera. And as he drives he sings the an elegy of all the great places that he remembers but which are no more.

All the while, Grandson wonders where, or if he should get out.

Evergreen

Evergreen?

Coda (Sic transit gloria mundi)

Did you ever ride the park,
Fronting on the river scene?.
When the boulevards were young.
Over Grosse Pointe through the trees.

Did you ever see the plan,
When the century was young?
All the buildings crowned in marble …..?
Driving fast down Evergreen.

When the elm trees lined the avenues
Standing tall against the green.
Wrapped in halos of the motor cars
Like nobody’s ever seen.

Now we drive on down the boulevards
Past the buildings racked with pain.
And I squint so hard through broken glass
Trying hard to see the past.

And then no one sees the emptiness.
When I cannot find a job.
Having seen the thought of,…
Will the future look Supremes?

Seattle 2012

Look, There's Just No Reason To Be Shy!

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