I guess the last one wasn’t the last snippet from the new opera, The Boats. America. Permission to leave. Emigration. John Wayne is one funky, dude. Black beer. James Brown. Mega-snippet. How it all fits together. One combo platter, coming up.
Roger CortonWell, I guess that wasn’t the last snippet. Maybe this is the last snippet?
JC HarrisHey, don’t sound so thrilled with some NEW MUSIC!
RCYeah, yeah. Look, where have you been for the past month?
RCIt never ends.
RCSo, first things first. I thought there were no more snippets.
JCHBookkeeping? (laughs) So, each of the three sons has their own aria–where they think about where they imagine themselves going to. I realized that I hadn’t included the aria for the youngest son, Cian.
RCYou remind me of when I was a kid. I wasn’t happy until I had every baseball card in the set.
JCHTouching. Can we get back to myyyyy life’s work? (laughs).
RCHey, that’s my line. OK, so this son wants to go to America.
JCHRight. He has that typical worship of the Hollywood version of America that a lot of us had when I was a kid.
RCWhen you say ‘Hollywood’ do you mean Westerns and skyscrapers?
JCHSort of. I’m sure we’ve talked about that movie “The Quiet Man” where John Wayne goes back to Ireland and he walks into a village bar and says to the bar man, “Give me one of them black beers!” It was one of those things where we knew it wasn’t exactly real but we also kinda thought that part of it was like that. He just walked into any situation with so much confidence. We made fun of it, but we thought it was cool.
RCBut to get to the music, this song is funk. What does that have to do with John Wayne?
JCHYou didn’t find John Wayne, funky as hell? Jeeez, dude. What is wrong with you?
RCI can’t think of a less funky man who ever drew breath.
JCHYeah, the great thing was that he made Irish people look positively relaxed by comparison. But to your question, we all thought that R&B was America. To put it succinctly, black soul music. Nothing else like it in the whole world. So that’s Cian’s groove–an American groove.
RCNow the other two sons’ songs are much more somber.
JCHWell, Cian’s the youngest and the least depressed about moving. He hasn’t quite worked out his life so he is more flexible than the other two.
RCBut still the lyric is directed to his wife. He wants help deciding?
JCHYeah. He’s asking permission in a way.
JCHPermission to not be so sad or angry about leaving. To him it’s more of an adventure than with the other two. He wants to be free to not be in mourning. This could be great, guys! You know what I mean?
RCGotcha. It’s complicated.
JCHIt’s complicated. As I’ve written a few times, when I was a kid, there was like ninety percent emigration. I mean, by the time you were twenty one, ninety percent of the kids were on their way to somewhere’s else.
JCHSo each of the sons have not only a different destination, but a different attitude about the whole idea of emigration. A lot of people left kicking and screaming. Some wanted to leave on the inside, but didn’t want to admit it. For Cian, it’s the perfect excuse to do what he may have wanted to do…
RCBut didn’t want to tell anyone?
JCHExactly. You were ashamed to say, “Dad, I don’t want to fish. I want to do my own thing.”
RCYou were expected to follow in your father’s footsteps.
JCHYeah. People here don’t get that. It’s not just that there so many more opportunities. It’s that young people here have an expectation of freedom. It’s hard to imagine not having that freedom to do your own thing if you’re from here. It’s like the air here is different or something.
RCFreedom is a pretty common word these days.
JCHIt sure is. I’m not sure it’s used the way I mean it. Cian wants freedom from guilt. See the thing is, that you couldn’t admit, “HOORAY! I’M LEAVING THIS ONE HORSE TOWN BEHIND, BABY!” You were expected to leave…
RCJust don’t be too happy about it?
JCHExactly. His aria has a funky beat because that’s his inner monologue.
RCI have a question. You talked about all the music that ties things together. I’m wondering if you shouldn’t post more of those pieces. I say that because there are all these snippets now that seem like they are all cut from different pieces of cloth.
JCHI thought ‘prog’ was supposed to be about -variety-? (laughs)
RCYes, but I’m not understanding how such different styles of music fit together.
JCHYou’ve hit on the tricky part for sure. I think that’s a good idea. There are two ‘Transition’ pieces I haven’t posted snippets for.
RCJust to remind people, the Transitions are pieces of music that play between scenes as they are re-arranging the stage. Do I have that right?
JCHExactly. But unlike a typical show, all of the switching around is going to happen in plain view of the audience. The curtain isn’t down. So the Transitions are sort of theme music for the various stage maneuverings. (laughs).
RCSo maybe you could post those and then do a sort of mega-snippet which gives a sense of the flow of the entire show. Is ‘flow’ the right word?
JCHFlow is definitely the right word. That’s a great idea. And you’re right. Any kind of musical or opera has to feel like one unified thing. I’ve probably lost sight of the fact that you can’t hear how it all fits together because, well, you can’t hear how it all fits together. (laughs)
RCRight. I love most of what you’ve done…
JCHMOST. NOT. ALL?
RCI love most of what you’ve done. So far. But frankly, it is hard to see the ‘big picture’ you’re always talking about.
JCHFair enough. One Combo Platter with everything. Order up! Happy, er… whatever you call tomorrow.
RCHow long have you lived here?