TOP 25 SONGS: VOLUME 3

This blog is a part of The Directory of Contemporary Musical Theatre Writers, found online at www.contemporarymusicaltheatre.com
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Dirt Road

Music by: Jeff Hardy
Lyrics by: Tom Stuart

Tell us about your song. If it’s from a musical, set the song up for us.

“Dirt Road” was written for a piece that Jeff and I have been developing for a while.  It’s a coming-of-age story set in the South in the early 60’s.  This song was written for the lead character – a fourteen year old girl – but Jeff and I went on to rework the original song into something that functioned as a stand-alone, and I’m really happy with the result.  It’s about feeling trapped in a small world and needing desperately to escape to a better life.

Did you write it for anyone in mind?

The original song was written for the character I mentioned – we had a scrappy young tomboy type in mind with a pop country vocal quality.  But honestly, we tailed the stand-alone version to me because we debuted it in a concert at Joe’s Pub and I sang it.

What are you most proud of with this song?

I love Jeff’s music – it’s a joy to sing and has a great musical arc, which really drives the emotional journey.  The repetitive nature of some of it is a musical representation of the narrowness of this character’s small town experience.

What was the most difficult thing about writing this song?

We knew what we wanted the song to be about but it took a while to find the right “hook.” Jeff came up with the dirt road idea and we ran with it.  There were several musical settings until we found the right feel.  I think the toughest part was probably distilling the character’s desires down to a single singable and dramatic moment.

What else would you like us to know about this song?

I wanted the lyric to have a dry, dusty quality in the verses and a bit more expansive feel in the choruses and to build from a conversational place to an emotional one.  I hope that comes through.

Tell us what excites you most about contemporary musical theatre.

I just saw ONCE and loved it.  It did the one thing that matters most to me in theatre: it moved me emotionally.  I was also really into the creativity of the direction and staging.  I loved the choreography and get excited by musicals that use movement in new and innovative ways.

What do you find to be most challenging about this business?

Maybe just the time it takes to take a project from idea to script to stage.  I’m impatient!

What are you currently working on?

Jeff and I continue to work on this project, and I also am writing lyrics for a show of thematically related songs with Stuart McMeans.  We have about ten songs right now and will be writing and polishing at a writing retreat this month.  I’m also in the beginning stages of collaborating on an original book for a musical for which I hope to write the lyrics.

How can we keep track of what you’re up to?

Visit www.tomstuart.net.

Fly at Me

Music by: Kim Oler
Lyrics by: Alison Louise Hubbard

Tell us about your song. If it’s from a musical, set the song up for us.

“Fly At Me” is from our musical LITTLE WOMEN, with a book by Sean Hartley, based on the Louisa May Alcott classic.  Jo March’s sister Beth has become ill with scarlet fever while their mother Marmee is away.  Jo has decided not to telegraph her mother, because she thinks she can handle the situation and doesn’t want to trouble her.  But Beth has become gravely ill, and may die before her mother is able to get home.  When Jo confides in her best friend Laurie, he tells her that he has sent for Marmee the previous day, and that she will arrive home soon.  Jo is overcome with gratitude and “flies at” Laurie, kissing him.  She leaves to tend to Beth — and he realizes that he is in love with her.

Did you write it for anyone in mind?

Our first full production of Little Women was in North Haven, Maine.  Almost everyone on the entire island was in the cast.  There happened to be an adorable young man named Mike with an absolutely beautiful voice playing the part of Laurie.  We wrote the song for him.  His last high note brought down the house every night!

What are you most proud of with this song?

The song establishes how Laurie is changing from a young boy into a young man, while giving him a breakaway humorous moment at the darkest point in the show.

What was the most difficult thing about writing this song?

The dialog section in the bridge.  At first we had Laurie dancing with a broom, but our director convinced us that that had been done before.  So we had Laurie declare that he had come to the rescue while jumping on a table with an imaginary sword instead.    

What else would you like us to know about this song?

The high note at the end is optional!

Tell us what excites you most about contemporary musical theatre.

The breadth of subject matter that is now fair game for treatment.

What do you find to be most challenging about this business?

Getting your show produced.  There are a lot of opportunities for development, but it is just so costly to produce even the most modest musical.

What are you currently working on?

BUDDY’S TAVERN, a musical based on the film “Two Family House”.   It won the Richard Rodgers Award in 2010 and was featured in the O’Neill Festival and the Village Originals reading series at the Village Theatre in Seattle.  We are continuing to work on it and hope to have a full production soon!

[Editorial note: for more information about “Fly at Me” or other Hubbard & Oler works, please contact Alison Louise Hubbard at muzicallie@aol.com]

Please visit www.contemporarymusicaltheatre.com for more information on over 150 contemporary musical theatre writers and 360+ songs, all searchable by voice and song type.

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2 thoughts on “TOP 25 SONGS: VOLUME 3

  1. What a great resource you’re providing here! Thank you so much for the time and effort you’ve put into it. And a huge thank you to the composers, lyricists and artists who have shared so much with us!

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