Monday, April 6, 2009

"God Made America" at the Electric Lodge

So I'm singing my own work tonight for the first time in 6 years.

It's "God Made America", an aria originally from "WARNING!: eXplicit Material" that I mentioned in a recent post. I adjusted the piece for solo performance for Trippin' in 2003. And I've changed the opening to fit it in the 10 minutes I have onstage this evening.

Come by tonight:

April 6, @7:30PM

The Electric Lodge
1416 Electric Avenue
Venice, CA 90291.
Max 10 - Each performer gets 10 min. onstage. http://www.electriclodge.org.
$10 to get in. C'mon down after work and enjoy the show.

Here's the background:

I love characters who're on the edge. It makes it so that a little question or even can set them careening. In this bit we have Jack who is simply dying to tell his story to anyone who'll listen. And he has a brilliant way of finding a captive audience. We should fear Jack by the time we get to the end of the piece so much so that we can easily imagine him killing me and dumping the body in a ditch.

The actual origin of the piece has 2 sources.

1) I met "Crazy Pete" renamed here Jack in 1990. I was in a car that broke down en route to Falmouth, MA where I was spending the summer at the College Light Opera Company. Of the 3 of us in the car, I was elected to go with Pete when he pulled over his truck to give us a lift. I was utterly terrified. He was tatted up, with the long pony-tail and a wife beater and we stopped at a bar so I could call for help. He had a few shots and when we found out help couldn't come for us this far away on a Sunday night, Pete offered to drive us. Along the way, with 4 of us crammed into the front cab along with his dog Sheebah (truly), he drove along until his axle broke. We were still half an hour from our destination, so Pete and I now walked to the nearest bar to call for help once again. It was there that I ordered a beer in a bar for the first time in my underage life, met some of his ex-con friends from his prison days and then I beat him at pool and won a second beer.

2) My friend John was standing outside the theatre one day and during an intermission, he told a few people about his first cross country road trip. He was wowed at the sights and said he could see in the sweeping landscapes how God might have made America.

Put the two together and you've got one crazy, wonderful lunatic.

Here's the text.

Enjoy.

DAVID
Last summer I did my first cross country road trip. Everything was fine ‘til my car broke down about 100 miles from of Cody, Wyoming.  I tried hitchhiking, but after two hours with my thumb out, the sun was going down and no one had stopped for me.  Then out of the blue an old Ford pick up came screeching to a halt. I hopped in with this guy Jack who had tats completely covering both his arms and a long black greasy pony tail all the way down to his butt. He wasn't much of a conversationalist, but we had a few hours, so I tried to make a little small talk.

DAVID
So…where’re you heading?

JACK
Back to the beginning place.

DAVID
What? What’s at the beginning place?

JACK
God.

DAVID
God? And how’re you gonna find him?

JACK
I’m followin’ his footsteps.

DAVID
You can see his footsteps?

JACK
They’re right there.

DAVID
How did you first find them?

JACK (Sung)
When I first drove across America, a lifetime ago, my eyes were opened.
I saw God’s plan in the land.
I saw His hand creating America. I began

In New England. Tight towns nestled in the bosom of rolling hills.
So intricate. People were intimate.
So said the land made by God’s hand.

Expanding his last design from the Old Country.
He went south and saw the possibility of
America blossoming larger than, larger than, larger than, larger. Then
he drew the Mason Dixon line and the
gracious wavings of his wand
fell upon the people like Spanish Moss.
It was everywhere.
His people moved with grace. With grace.

Momentum pulled him further south
Further south and further south.
Gravity kept pulling and
his broad brush wouldn’t stop.
his broad brush wouldn’t stop.

He dug into the ground and
Found once he ground to a stop he’d
made a peninsula Jutting from the country.
A peninsula Lower than the country

Don’t you see? That’s why all the nuts roll down to Florida.
Trust my story. See his footsteps. You can’t miss them.

God made America!!!!
With his hands! With his feet!
God made America!!!!
Where we walk down the street
And step in shit ‘cause we’re not looking where we are.
We’re looking where we’re going and how beautiful it is there
How beautiful life will be when we get there.
In America. I’ll meet you .
Come with me.

The he went West, young man. Into the wind!
And he head North, yes ma’am! Into the cold!

Tired from wrestling the peninsula
He replenished by drinking from the from the
lakes and the only lakes to
quench the thirst of God were truly
Great Lakes
were super-super-super-dooper Extra-ordinary lakes!

Now refreshed he drove straight and true.
Straight and true. Straight and true.
And the Midwest went by quickly and The
Plains flew by too

Hold onto your seats!
Hold onto your seats!
Were going straight up! Up. Up! up! Up. Up!
up! Up. Up! up! Up. Up!
up! Up. Up! up! Up. Up!
He took his speed and went vertical!
Flat Irons! Stepping Stone!
He rode the Rockies! The Rockies! The Rockies!
The Rockies! The Rockies bucked and bronked!
Sent him flying! Landed Harder!
It was the most fantastic ride!

God made America!!!!
With his head! With his heart!
God made America!!!!
With the inside of his thigh
smell the sweat from his groin.
sense how close we are
to the center of creation
And He made it all for you.
And He made it all for me.
And He made it beautiful. Beautiful

One last journey over to the coast.
He spread his garden south.
But his seeds ran short and the
clouds grew thin and the
sun grew hot and the
soil grew tan and sand begat sands and
soon it was a desert and he made the desert
Yes, He made the desert...Beautiful.

As He neared the end He made a valley where people dwelt
close to one another as they did in the beginning
But his strokes had grown too broad and
though they felt small they were
wide and the people spread far apart.

And on his last stroke
the angel at his right hand fell to earth.
The angel at his right hand fell to earth.
And God could not catch him.
And God DIDN’T catch him.
So God called the city “The City of Angels”.
But that one who fell from His right hand still
dwells there in the land.

You can hear him. He’s been talking to me.
You can hear him. Listen carefully.
Listen carefully.

So I’m retracing my steps
By recalling God’s steps
And they are clear as day
if you open your eyes.
Hear the land!
Hear it cry!
Oh, Sinner man!
Where you gonna run, when everywhere you go you see

God made America!!!! America!!!!

God made America!!!!

I’ll find the beginning place
And then I’ll start over
This time I’ll do it right
I won’t get lost. I’ll find him
Yes he’ll meet me there
In America.
In America.
In America.



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