Visualizing the Songs and Dances: Act I
Tracks’s tunes came to me as, and when, the muses inspired. But the 23 lyrics were written in strict story sequence. By and large, each song was assembled in this order:
- concept (sometimes conceived together with, or before, the title)
- tune (often conceived together with the rhythm)
- lyrics (nearly always last).
It then fell to Marshall to arrange the tune at his Baltimore home. I’d drive to Marshall’s house, where I’d record the song a capella. To help him imagine the look and feel I was after, I’d show him a similar song or two from a movie musical on YouTube.
Tracks is a traditional book musical. The overture hasn’t yet been composed. In all likelihood, it will be like overtures from the classic Broadway book musicals: a potpourri based on the songs.
Song 1: Morning Rush
Morning Rush will closely resemble Cantata for a First Date, the opening number in the off=Broadway hit I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. But in Morning Rush, the riders’ apartments will be built in two or three levels, like a Purple Martin birdhouse…or the wall of comics in the 1960s American TV comedy Laugh In.
Even Metro believes that trains and dancing can mix:
Song 2: With Friends Like These
This establishing song will resemble Avenue A from the Jerry Herman 1996 made-for-television musical Mrs. Santa Claus, minus the exuberant street dance:
Song 3: Third Car, Seventh Row
Suave ladies’ man Steven Kodaly (“ko-DIE”) strikes a similar note in “Grand Knowing You” from Harnick and Bock’s She Loves Me:
Song 4: Not My Type
Carla’s self-inflicted victimhood both evokes and contrasts with a humorous anthem from another aging vamp, Ilona’s anthem, “I Resolve,” from Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock’s 1963 Broadway musical, She Loves Me:
Song 5: There Will Come a Day
The nearest example is found in the early minutes of Ragtime’s Act I finale, “Till We Reach That Day” (music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens):
Song 6: Hey, Pretty Girl
In “Hey, Pretty Girl,” Mike reassures his friend Melanie that one day her knight will come. Of course, to Melanie, Mike is that knight, an irony that is not lost on the audience. When I find a similar song, I’ll post the video here.
Song 7: That’s What We Do
The orchestration was inspired by Layla Shiffrin’s “Theme From Mannix.” But the song itself, as I recall, was inspired by the black folks’ segment in the opening number from Ragtime:
Song 8: Waiting For a Seat
This song will play out like a game of musical chairs. When I find a similar song, I’ll post the video here.
Song 9: Tapping On a Laptop
Songs about people who annoy others in public are far and few between. When I find one that’s similar, I’ll post the video here.
Song 10: Always a Doorway
When I wrote this song, it was the first song to have one character explain musical plays to another while acting out what he’s describing. But in Disney’s 2007 film Enchanted, Giselle and an ensemble of strangers nailed it with “That’s How You Know” (music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Stephen Schwartz):
Song 11: Ordinary Day
In Ordinary Day, Sholeh and Celia sing to the other women about love as they await the train. This song was anticipated by the 1944 film Meet Me In St. Louis, and Judy Garland’s performance of The Trolley Song (music by Hugh Martin, lyrics by Ralph Blane):
Song 12: My Kind of People
In My Kind of People, new rider Duran confirms his love for his fellow riders…while not quite extending that love to the homeless who dwell among them. I’m still looking for an historical showtune with a similar look, feel, and theme.