Jonathon Qualls, Noah Lentini, Will Price - Jack Eric Williams

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lyrics

Shelter Island… Summer of 2000.
Ricky Ian Gordon,
you asked me to write you a lyric
you said, either story, song, or hymns.
But your three names remind me of our friend,
Jack Eric Williams.
Jack…

Hey, Ricky,
how did he die?
Wait! Let me begin.
Yes I know, though diabetic,
he forgot to take his insulin.
But he forgot.

"Do you really think he forgot?"

Or was he simply distraught?
For a million reasons why.
And what he wanted he got.
And he wanted to die.

He could write circles around ev’rybody.
Around me anyway.
But as Jack Eric Williams would constantly say,
he wasn’t the fashion of the day.
Were you sick of hearing that?
I was sick of hearing that
I took it very personally.
I thought he was attacking me.

Anyway, I miss him
and I miss his inappropriateness too.
How fat was he?
It seems he just grew and grew and grew and grew.
Did you ever see him eat, Ricky?
Did you ever see him chew?
Did you ever see him bite?
That’s what I call an appetite.

If he’d only lived a little longer.
If he’d only lived a little longer, Ricky.
With his great musical ear
and cranky elusive passion.
Our boy Jack, I think
would have finally been in fashion.

Is this the kind of lyric you wanted, Ricky?
If you hate it, I’ll write you another lyric, Ricky.
Ricky, are you still there?

And at his memorial service
were you there?
Were you there?
Ev’ryone was saying how Jack had never received the acclaim he deserved.
Which of course I believed, but more quietly reserved.
And at the end of the service
I was talking to Quentin Crisp.
And he said,
“I never understood his music.”
(There were gasps in the crowd, people fainted on the floor.)
“I never understood why the melodies went where they went.
It’s all a crime, it’s gone so wrong,
but I never understood his song.”

Then I started laughing.
Not a little tee-hee.
But a laugh from the belly
which confounded even me.
I said, “I must disagree.”
Ricky! I didn’t know what to say.
So I said,
“Jack Eric Williams doesn’t seem to be
the fashion of the day.”

If he had only lived a little longer.
If he’d only lived a little longer, Ricky.
With his great musical ear
and cranky elusive passion.
Our boy Jack, I think
would have finally been
in fashion.

That’s all the news from Shelter Island.
Though it’s not exactly new.
Give my best to all the three name composers.
Including, especially you.
We should all remember to take our insulin.
Love, William Alan Finn.

credits

from Elegies: A Song Cycle (Studio Cast Recording), released September 11, 2016

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