First look at “Workin’ Man” and “Recognition”

I found the lyrics to “Workin’ Man”, what is now known as the 2nd section of the opening sequence of Circus. The date reads February 18th 2010, I suppose a little more than 2 moths before our first staged reading of the show. I originally intended the show to open with this number. It was supposed to begin with a lone character, Emory (who we fashioned from our imaginations, he was not in the book by Cathy Day) tapping his foot to the beat. I’ve always been a fan of simple, effective ideas in my music. There no need to complicate things if a good feeling already exists from step one.

After awhile, we decided there needed to be a more “circus-based” opening to the show, as this number related mostly to our protagonist, Wallace Porter, and not the circus itself. We had long talked about two different kinds of people who live in the world of CIW, classifying the difference as “circus people vs. town people”. The idea to have the opening consist of two ensemble songs to represent both those groups was first executed when I composed an opening called “The Circus and Menagerie” (Original, right?) It was scrapped, because it was the most unoriginal thing I’ve ever written and we had about 30 people say it sounded like “When I’m 64”, by The Beatles. Because it did….it happens. Later it became what now opens the show, “Amazing”.

I don’t know why I wrote “5th” above certain words. I remember doing it because it used to be a perfect fifth leap in the melody…but it’s not like that anymore…hmm. There’s also a rhythm above the first page of “Recognition” where the second measure is one eighth-note short of being complete. Also, the top of the 3rd page, I wrote “So you smoke”, crossed out smoke, and wrote “fake”. The lyric now is “force a smile”. But smoke? What was Jennie smoking? What was I doing? Again…hmmm.

I also had Wallace (I guess) sing “Ooo, I’m a Workin Man”. Thats pretty dumb, glad that didn’t make the cut. The rest of the lyrics have never changed.

“Recognition” might be my favorite song in the show. It terrified me for the longest time, because there’s so much information to push through the tune. The novel features the story of Jennie Dixianna’s brutal experience during her childhood of seeing her mother die in childbirth, due to a mishap involving a voodoo spell. I always got real pumped about the idea of Jennie having some kind of paranormal power, I’m a sci-fi nerd after all.

The song shows Dixianna’s first of few vulnerable moments within the story. Spoken in to no one but the audience, she lets us into her childhood, and the sexual abuse of her father, until she eventually murdered him and ran off with the traveling circus. Lots of the team in the seminar were wary of whether the full story would relay in the script well, or if it would be a breach in the action, an unclear moment. At one point I wrote a completely different set of lyrics for this one, only to return to the original form. The bridge about Jack was inserted later by suggestion of the group, to draw comparisons to the two men who had impacted Jennie’s life in the same way. Now with a dance break, the song will be performed by Erin Oechsel in the fall.