The Sound of the Serge

There is one scene in which Duke Ellington’s poetic, heartbreaking, & illuminating “Blue Serge” is played and talked about. If you haven’t heard this particular tune, or any of Ellington’s music, run to your nearest itunes provider and get some. Music has always played a very vibrant, essential role in my work, my life and my art…. that sounds cheesy! But, it is true. The music of the 30’s & 40’s captures the themes and events of that time so devastatingly; songs with lyrics & without. Some of my personal favorites have been Johnny Mercer, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, to name a few. This is also true of the sound of the fury that was the 60’s & 70’s; the show also mentions some great classic rock icons.

I find that when I am working on any show, the music of that show is a major source of inspiration, imagination, and emotionality. Sometimes the music that helps me the most is not of the era the show may or may not be placed in. Luckily with Blue Serge  we are in the present and so the music that has come to me and has helped me has been really interesting.

There have been the obvious choices, I feel, given what the story of Blue Sergeis : Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, a little Ani DiFranco. But the biggest surprise for me has been the desire and the effect of the haunting Nina Simone. Songs like  “Feeling Good”, “Wild is the Wind”, “Four Women” she even has a wonderfully deranged version of Weill’s “Pirate Jenny”, all have this quality of solitude, weariness, brutal honesty and a Delicious sense of irony, that are all very much alive and well in the world of our show.

Music, like any kind of performance art, is a beast that holds nothing back. To hear Nina sing a love song  about being together forever, the flowers, the birds, there is always that sense of doubt in her voice. It is a voice that forces you to look and hear beyond the words written, and let the interpretation take hold and float away. And all we have to do is float along and see where the ride takes us.

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