music by Steve Schalchlin

This was the one song that was born on the road. We were in New York at the Currican Theatre and we had a song in this slot called "One More Song." But I didn't like it. In fact, at one point during the run, which was off-off-Broadway, I complained to Jimmy (Brochu) that everytime we got to it, I'd leave the theatre.

He said, "Well, if you hate it so much you have to walk out whenever it's being sung, I think you need to put another one in." And that scared the living daylights out of me. This was my first and only show. I wanted to call Marie Cain or someone to save me but instead I looked around for inspiration.

The full story of the writing of this song is actually available in the diary if you go to the June of 1997 and look there but I remember it was inspired by the Artistic Director of the Currican whose name was Andrew Miller. He was this wonderful bundle of energy and inspiration who made everyone feel so good.

One day I saw him at the theatre shortly after a break-in where they were vandalized and for the first time I saw him look down trodden and depressed. It totally broke my heart. I couldn't bear to see him like that and that's when I thought of the characters in the play realizing that Gideon, who had been their source of strength, was now exposed as suicidal and without hope.

I also took into consideration the fact that you can't MAKE someone want to live. When a person is deathly ill and battling disease or depression or whatever, you can never truly get into their shoes and understand what they are feeling. All you can do is promise to be there for them.

Asking them to hold on is really just asking for a favor for yourself. This is the only song in the show that grows from the action on the stage. Tryshia approaches Gideon with the other two characters behind her watching. She's not really sure what she wants to say to him so the words are halting, unsure, unclever. It's like she's marking time until she can think of the exact right thing to say.

Nobody knows the bottom better than you
I don't. They don't.
Nobody has the right to tell you what to do
I don't. They don't.
You were the one who made us believe
You were the one who wrote the songs.
You were the one who made it fun.
You were the one who cared for my son.

Nobody wants to see you go through hell again.
Hospitals. Doctors.
All we can do is vow to hold you through the end.
Hospitals. Doctors.
No one is promised even one more day.
All we can say is we'll be there.
All we can do is show how much we care...

And she knows this isn't enough. It's like a Hallmark card. She's stating the obvious. Then suddenly, Tryshia remembers back to the first song they sing in the show, "Preacher and the Nurse" where Gideon had more or less criticized his own father for leaving that first church because he felt unworthy to pastor it.

Suddenly, using the melody of that song and the form of those words, she takes "preacher and the nurse" and turns it into...

The singer and the song
That's what we become
When you play and let us sing along
They're the songs that give us life
Don't we have a right to ask for one more song

Gideon, recognizing the song she's singing, gives in a little and begins to accompany her as she twists the words from being about his father and his church to being about Gideon and the singers standing before him at that moment.

The singer stood in front of the choir he built
and he said, "I'm leavin'.
I love you all but they tell me I am dying
And I'm so tired of crying
And I'm so tired of fighting
I will give up now!
I'll go and die now!

Well, I think the singer made a mistake today
If he thinks the choir will let him fade away

The singer and the song
That's what we become
When you play and when we sing along
You're the one that makes us strong
Don't we have the right
To ask for one more song

Musically speaking, Preacher and the Nurse is written on the flatted seventh chords, which was the idea of Michael Gaylord, the arranger in New York who thought it would sound more Gospelly if the bluesier chords were used. But originally it was written in major sevenths. For Singer and the Song I returned the song to the major seventh to give it a more positive sound. It's a subtle difference that the audience would never hear but it gives it a more positive sound.

Anyway, our conceipt here is that Gideon is just playing Preacher while Tryshia sings her own version of the song. For the bridge part she diverts from the original melody but the flat seven chord is still used. But I had different words here originally. It was:

If you lose hope
Then we lose hope

But Jimmy (later) suggested we give her something positive to sing and he made the suggestion we turn it around. I even remember where we were when we made this change. We were walking from the subway in Brooklyn to the apartment owned by our friends Rob and Linda Leahy. Right there on that street the new lyrics were made.

If you need hope
We'll give you hope
If you need strength
We'll give you strength
Cuz if you don't live
Then we don't live

I kept the last "then we don't live" from the original version. Here's what I wrote in the diary the day the next portion was written. Jimmy was in Los Angeles still and so I played the song for Mike Wills the director and:

...He reminded me of an email I had gotten from Ronda Espy when I was getting very stressed out during the production of this play. She told me to remember that my life is not this play; that my life is not my songs, no matter how much I might love it and them. She wanted me to remember the feeling of just being grateful to wake up each day; the simple joy of being alive.

Regarding death, Mike added that for him, the greatest tragedy of losing such creative giants as Michael Bennett (a Broadway director and choreographer) to AIDS was the loss of the person himself. Sure, much of his work will live on, but it's the loss of the person that is the tragedy; the inspiration he could spark in others -- the life he brought to those around him and to the theatre community. And that was it.

So, the last chorus became:

You're more than just a song
You're more than just a rhyme
You're more than just a tune that fades away

So is there nothing we can say
To make you want to fight
To make you want to fight
To make you want to fight for one more day

More than the singer
More than the song
More than the singer
More than the song

You are the preacher
You are the nurse
You are the preacher

So give me one more day
One more day.

NEXT: Faces in the Music.

BACK to list of songs.

Singer and the Song copyright 1997 by See No Evil/Lil Shack O Tunes ASCAP