THE LYRICS PLUS THE STORIES BEHIND...& THE BONUS ROUND SESSIONS CD
THE SONGS FROM THE LAST SESSION(PLUS TLS FAQ BELOW)
**and now you can get updated songs-in-progress at
The Preacher and the Nurse
The Faces In The Music (cut from the show--lyrics not posted)
Going It Alone
At Least I Know What's Killing Me
The Singer and the Song
(which replaced "One More Song," also not posted.)
When You Care
The songs below are not in The Last Session but are additionally featured on the CD The Bonus Round Sessions.
Will It Always Be Like This? (Gabi's Song)
William's Song (Five Great Big Guys)
Where Is God?
A Simple Faith
The Last Session is a personal story featuring real life experiences. As everyone knows by now, the songs for the most part, were written first. They were born in pain -- or as Jack says to Gideon in TLS, "Take the pain and turn it into a melody. Take the hopelessness and turn it into a song."
The songs began coming in the fall of 1995 after a protracted time of great sickness, but the first song, "Connected," was written in the summer of '95. Reaction to the song was so strong Jimmy began encouraging me to write more. He would say, "Write about that group you went to! Write about your own memorial service and call it 'Save Me A Seat.'" And so on.
As he tells it, "I'd give him a song idea and he'd go off and come back the next day with a great song!"
The writing happened during the early morning hours from 3:30 am until 9:00 am while Jimmy was still in bed. He learned to tiptoe into the room and not disturb me in case I was in a "hot zone" where the words were coming and the ideas were flying out.
I still have all the original rough drafts of the lyrics so I have a bit of a roadmap in remembering the stories behind the songs. But before we get into specifics I'll answer a few common questions.
WHAT DID YOU WRITE FIRST, THE WORDS OR THE MUSIC?
I write words first. I taught myself songwriting when I was a teenager. I'd buy an Elton John album, open the cover and set it up on the piano writing all my own music to Bernie Taupin's lyrics. THEN I'd listen to the album and compare my music to Elton's. I beat him a couple of times but not very often.
When I finally moved out to LA in the late '80s, I became involved with the National Academy of Songwriters where I sponsored and attended songwriting seminars with many of the top songwriters and teachers in the country. I believe a good songwriter should understand form, function and the language of the art. I believe I am influenced by my childhood playing Gospel in church and the music of the Beatles, Neil Young, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, John Fogerty, Elton John and Harry Chapin.
WHY DID YOU USE CO-WRITERS?
Because I'm the smartest human being in the world. I asked Marie Cain to help me out when I tried to write "Friendly Fire" -- which at the time was called "Hills of Pills." For some reason I just couldn't get a handle on it and I asked Marie to help me because she is the most intelligent, wittiest writer I know. I only go to the best.
As for John Bettis, I was at his house early on in the process when I "asked" -- actually, I whined and begged -- him to co-write. After hearing what I had on the song, he jumped up off the couch, ran to his desk for a pencil and paper -- and we wrote the song together in a single afternoon. It's the most well known and covered song from the show so far.
DID JIMMY HELP YOU WRITE THE SONGS?
Jimmy was involved in the process almost from the first note. In addition to the "homework assignments" he gave me in the beginning, Jimmy occasionally suggested alternate lyrics which I incorporated into the songs. Also, he wrote all the lyrics to "Shades of Blue," of which we use a portion in the show. (The full version was recorded by Jeff Juday on the "TLS-LA Souvenir Album" available from firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHY DID YOU CUT SONGS?
We cut "The Faces in the Music" because, while it was a fun number telling Gideon's whole career, it was too long and served only to slow down the first act. It was unnecessary information. We replaced "One More Song" because I noticed that I'd find myself leaving the theatre every night when that song started. Jimmy said, "Well, if you hate it so much that you can't even listen to it, I'd say you should change it."
DID YOU THINK IN THE BEGINNING THAT THESE SONGS WERE SPECIAL?
I thought they'd be songs that I'd write for my family and friends and that nobody else would even "get" them. In the past, I was always my own worst critic. I'd write a bunch of songs, record them and then go hide the tape so that no one could hear it. When I worked at NAS with all those songwriters running around, the big joke in the office was that I wrote a song a year.
After "Connected," though, I found myself making souvenir demos and begging people to let me play it around town -- LA Women in Music, The Troubadour, Wine Women and Song, Rusty's Surf Ranch, etc. What I noticed was that no matter who I played "Connected" for, it left them emotionally shattered.
I had no way of anticipating I'd eventually be the recipient of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Award for Best Music and Lyrics, the GLAAD Media Awards, the PFLAG-LA Oscar Wilde Award and more.
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO SIT OUT THERE LISTENING TO YOUR LIFE PLAYED OUT EACH NIGHT?
I don't really think about it as my life. Gideon, as Jimmy as created him, is only a little bit like me. Gideon is himself. And it's a blast to actually get to PLAY Gideon, as I've done in LA, Omaha, Denver, Cincinnati and Baltimore.
WHAT IS THE BONUS ROUND?
That's the term I made up for my website, an online AIDS diary. After nearly dying three times, I compare it to the end of a game show. The buzzer rang for me, the game's over except for the Bonus Round where time speeds up and the prizes are better.
CAN I GET TO THE BONUS ROUND WITHOUT "DYING"?
You're already in the Bonus Round. You just don't know it yet. But if you listen to my songs? The clues are all there.
Now, order the Bonus Round Sessions CD
and help me support Youth Guardian Services
P.S. Some of the songs have been converted to score and can be seen and played on your browser. Go to http://www.bonusround.com/songs and click on any .htm file.