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BWW EXCLUSIVE: 5 SONGS BY... Paul Gordon On DADDY LONG LEGS, JANE EYRE & More

BroadwayWorld recently kicked off a brand new feature series spotlighting the best and brightest songwriters on Broadway and beyond with their own personally chosen quintet of songs that hold special meaning to them, titled 5 SONGS BY....

Today we are continuing the 5 SONGS BY... series by talking to a Tony Award nominated composer and lyricist all about his many mainstage musicals, the accomplished Paul Gordon. Sharing insights on his rapturous scores for the period-set classic literature adaptations of JANE EYRE, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY and EMMA, Gordon also offers thoughts on his brand new musical ANALOG & VINYL, planned for an Off-Broadway run next year, and also previews his forthcoming Off-Broadway musical adaptation of DADDY LONG LEGS, set to be directed by his JANE EYRE collaborator John Caird and winner of the 2010 Ovation Award for Best Score and more, beginning performances in September. Also, don't miss THE MUSIC OF PAUL GORDON at 54 Below tonight.

More information on THE MUSIC OF PAUL GORDON at 54 Below is available at the official site here.

"Painting Her Portrait" - JANE EYRE

"In 1993, I found myself sitting in John Caird's backyard as he was looking over my first draft of JANE EYRE, holding a menacing red pencil while he corrected my spelling. He basically liked what I had done but felt there was a song missing. It was the moment when Jane first hears that Mr. Rochester is to become engaged to Blanche Ingram. John suggested there should be a song that would allow the audience to experience Jane's low self-esteem as she compares herself to her beautiful rival. I sat down to write the song the next day and I took a direct quote from the novel, 'I'm painting my portrait, an absolute likeness,' and the melody and lyrics came to me as quickly as any song I've ever written. I played the song immediately for my friend Nell Balaban (who later went on to play Grace Poole in the original Broadway production) and I was met with instant approval. The next day I worked on the song a little more and played it again for Nell. She pointed out that a night's sleep had altered my beginning melody that I loved so much, without my realizing it. Luckily Nell has great ears and I was able to re-instate the original melody. The song remains one of my favorites because it reflects musically the agony Jane is feeling in this moment. Similar to the agony I felt when John Caird was correcting my spelling."

"The Swing" - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY

"After three weeks of rehearsal for SENSE AND SENSIBILITY at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre we were all pretty convinced that the show was done. But then we had a run-through and I realized that a key song for the character Marianne was not quite right. I had written mostly up-tempo songs for her character when Megan McGinnis, who was playing the role, pointed out that perhaps she should have a ballad. As a rule, I always listen to actors - three weeks into rehearsals and any good actor usually knows their character better than I do - so, if they're feeling something, I listen. This was also good news for me. I love writing ballads, but I knew I had to work much more quickly than I usually do. I had one day to be exact. Fortunately, I love a little time pressure and I put my heart and soul into writing this song over the next twenty-four hours. I always keep the recorder app on my cell open - to catch ideas as they come - as I don't have the skill to write music down quickly. (Why did I drop out of college? Let's address that some other time.) I finished the song late that night - the copyist did the chart the next morning - by the afternoon Megan had sung it through - beautifully, I might add - and the following day Bruce Coughlin orchestrated the song. By the time we got to previews I was pretty sure this was my favorite song in the show."

"The Secret Of Happiness" - DADDY LONG LEGS

"When I first read the Jean Webster novel upon which our musical, Daddy Long Legs, is based, one particular line popped out at me: 'The secret of happiness is living in the now.' The notion of living in the moment is certainly not new, but the way Jean Webster used this phrase in 1912 struck me as very contemporary, in a good way. I'd just finish reading Echart Tolle's book, The Power of Now, so the idea of this was especially resonate in my life. I didn't have an immediate feel for what the music should be and wasn't feeling particularly musically inspired, though I loved the idea for the lyric I wanted to write. So when that happens, I search my recorder app for lost ideas. Ideas I might have liked for a few minutes but then abandoned for one reason or another. I found this rather appealing chord progression and melody that I'd written on guitar some months earlier. I was amazed that the phrase, 'I've discovered the secret of happiness is...' fit perfectly on top of the melody I had written months earlier. I love when that happens. The music and lyrics felt like they belonged together - though they had nothing to do with each other when I first started writing the song."

"Anything That Matters" - ANALOG & VINYL

"I was contemplating a jukebox musical based around my own songs. It was really an exercise for me to see if I could write one, (should I ever be called to the task) and since I didn't own the rights to any famous catalogues, I thought I'd just use my own tunes. The working title was, ANALOG AND VINYL songs that were never hits by people you've never heard of". Again, this was just an exercise; I didn't think anything would come of it. I wrote a pretty decent book to the first draft. Let me rephrase: I wasn't completely embarrassed by it. Then I wrote a few more drafts and began to realize that I liked the book better than the music. So I started to write new songs for the show. The first song I wrote was called, "Anything that Matters" sung by a character called Rodeo Girl, (played brilliantly at the Weston Playhouse last year by Tony Award nominee Sarah Stiles). As soon as I wrote that song I new that this musical was going to be a hybrid musical; one that consisted of pre-existing songs and new songs written specifically for the show."

"Emma" - EMMA

"The title song from Emma is a song I'm particularly happy with. This is one of those songs that sort of wrote itself. Some songs can take a year to write - and some songs come out very quickly. I lean towards the ones that happen very fast - that's when you know you've caught a little inspiration. (Also I'm very lazy, why work harder than I have to?) In the novel, Jane Austen alludes very subtly to Knightley's feelings towards Emma. This keeps the surprise at the end (Sorry. Spoiler alert.) when he asks her to marry him. But this is a musical and I saw an opportunity to let the audience in on Knightley's feelings mid way through the second act. I'm glad I did. I love soaring romantic ballads that let us in on our protagonists vulnerabilities. "Emma" is one of those songs that I don't really remember writing but I'm really glad I did.



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