To Dream The Impossible Dream

A couple of days ago I finished the rough draft of the first act of the book for my musical. The thing clocks in at 109 pages so far. According to the maxims of musical theater, that is way too long for a first act. Of course, it's only the first draft, so I'm not concerned. I'm just getting it all down on paper. But the writing of the book is making me just absolutely itch to have the thing finished so I can get started on the music. It doesn't help that the Ideal Home Music Library is in its mixing phase. So I'm listening to these other show type songs and wishing I could just dive in. Also, I've been watching a lot of musicals lately, studying them (and freakin' LOVING them). As a result, I've rediscovered my love of theater. God, when Richard Harris weeps at the end of Camelot, or when Natalie Wood starts waving the gun around in West Side Story, I get goose pimples. Pop music has its allure, but I really feel that a musical, or any kind of musical theater or film, is the highest achievement a songwriter can attain. Some might say a symphony would be the highest, but a symphony isn't made up of songs. A pop song is a wonderful medium for expressing whatever you want. And good, simples pop songs are hard to write. But a musical song has to move a character from point A to point B, or advance the plot, or express a particular emotion. Plus, the lyrics have to come from the character singing them, not from the songwriter. A pop songwriter that clings to a particular style of lyric writing won't be able to crank out very good musical songs because his or her writing won't come from the character's voice.

I've also just heard that my famous friend is working on a musical. That got me thinking: wouldn't it be awesome if we sparked some kind of revival? Not that musicals are dead, mind you, I mean, shows are still going up all over the place, but the standard for quality in musicals is still Broadway and the West End. What if we could shift the standard, or at least create a new era of musical theater? The Indie-pop Musical. What if we could develop what Stephen Merritt started with his 69 Love Songs album into a full-blown, non-ironic, non-judgmental movement of artistic expression? There has already been a revival of interest in narrative lyrics. MTV bands like My Chemical Romance and such are writing songs that have stories in them. Hip Hop mastered the narrative drama song ages ago. Drama and theatricality are enjoying a resurgence in indie rock songwriting. It would seem the natural next step would be for everyone to start writing musical plays. That would be so awesome! Speaking as a complete drama nerd, I just think it would be so exciting. We could stop standing onstage behind microphones and start jumping out and playing characters. Rip off our tight tee shirts and put on costumes! Lights! Dancing! We could really get it moving.

Mind you, I'm not presumptuous enough to think that my little play would have any impact in bringing musicals back into fashion. Mine will probably be just a pin prick in the whole constellation. But I suspect that if my famous friend were to crank out a musical, you can bet bed knobs to broomsticks that every head band wearing, trucker capped, bearded, aviator sunglasses toting, castro hat sporting, cowboy shirt with pearly snaps clad, flowery dress donning, little birdie on a branch drawing, porno moustachioed indie kid from Portland to Poughkipsie would be ditching their barista jobs and busting out into the street singing "Hello, Dolly!" And once that happened, the rest of us aspiring musical writers could just sit back and ride the wave. Seriously, though, to get a musical performed on a stage has been a dream of mine ever since I saw Rachel Sakry's Whatever Girl staged here in Portland. Forget Broadway, I'd settle for putting one on in my backyard. But what if we all, not just Old Fancy Pants, started this big revival and musicals became trendy. Holy crap. Now that would be a trend I would welcome with open arms (I look really sleazy with a moustache).

Is this just an impossible dream? Well, I suppose I shouldn't get ahead of myself. I should just be happy I got the first draft of act one. I don't even know if this thing I'm writing is any good yet. Well, right now it definitely is not good. It's the shitty first draft, after all. I've started act two. Just take it one step at at time. I've never been one to take things one step at at time. I suppose that's my problem in life. I'm a victim of unbridled passion. Ha ha.