Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Feature: MAC Award Recipient Patrick DeGennaro Creates Powerful And Profound BACK ALIVE

pixeltracker

BWW Feature: MAC Award Recipient Patrick DeGennaro Creates Powerful And Profound BACK ALIVE

The history of the world is rich with occasions when artists have used their art to express those life experiences that have informed who they are, what they think, and how they feel. Painters paint their mothers and sculptors sculpt their lovers. More than once Truman Capote drew inspiration from his country cousin for stories, Jason Robert Brown created a musical about his marriage, and Neil Simon wrote an entire series of plays about his youth and his family. Larry Kramer even used a global pandemic as fodder for his writing, both theatrical and prosaic. One of the most famous examples of art being informed by life is the late, great Carrie Fisher, who coined one of this writer's favorite expressions: Take your broken heart and make it into art.

Patrick DeGennaro's heart has been broken. A lot of hearts have been broken in 2020. Lives and jobs have been lost to the coronavirus pandemic, race relations between the American people have reached a fever pitch as countries all over the world protest an unfortunate culture of hatred and inequality in the land. People are sad, angry, lost, and seeking guidance and expression. Artists everywhere are channeling their own emotions into their work as the internet fills with the results of their processes, and Mr. DeGennaro has joined the vast numbers of people whose feelings have grown so large that the only place for them to go is into their artistic expression.

On June tenth, Patrick DeGennaro dropped online a music video titled BACK ALIVE. The award-winning singer-songwriter had begun writing the extremely personal song during the New York City lockdown but as world affairs brought more heightened emotions and tension, the tune became a representation of these troubled times, on many levels. Once read to record and film, Mr. DeGennaro did that which we all must do right now: he enlisted the help of his friends, all of whom came on board without even taking a moment to blink or breathe. Assistance came from guitarist Alec Berlin of COME FROM AWAY, who arranged the song for Patrick. The two were joined via remote on Berlin's treatment of Back Alive by bassist Steve Count, MRS. DOUBTFIRE drummer Gary Seligson, and cellist Yoed Nir, all the way from Israel. Once all of the recorded tracks had been combined into one glorious song, it was time to make a music video that would express, fully, the experience of witnessing the world and Manhattan's turmoil, so DeGennaro contacted TV director and producer Jodi Binstock, whose long association with DeGennaro included having directed his first cabaret show at Manhattan nightspot Don't Tell Mama, and together the two long-distance friends and artists brought Patrick's artistic dream to full fruition.

"Shooting a video all by myself while under quarantine was a profound experience. Being alone in Times Square, standing in the middle of Seventh Avenue without a car in sight is something I hope to never see again. I tried to mostly show the peaceful and loving moments of how people were dealing with the loss of George Floyd, but I had to include some of the violence because that's also a part of the story and how changes are made. I included other civil rights marches in the last chorus of the video as a reminder that civil rights are a fragile thing and can be taken at any moment. So when you're fighting for someone else's rights you are also fighting for your own. And that's how we do it, we march, and we fight until we win."

The endeavor, a true expression of love for your fellow human, passion for justice, and hope for the future, is one of the most beautiful and significant that this writer has seen come out of this time of crisis. Mr. DeGennaro's heart is on full display through lyrics and melody, both beautiful and resonant. The images captured in his video are an important reminder of what is happening in New York, in America, in the world, and they are views to observe and to lock down in the memory, lest we forget and allow our hopeful futures to be tainted by similar sights someday. When asked about his creation, Mr. DeGennaro offered the following:

"I started writing Back Alive right after we got locked down for the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation was so hopeless and we all felt so helpless. The lyric 'When will we stand up, will we get a hand up' came to me immediately, it seemed to write itself and very often that means that it's not really correct and will eventually be rewritten. I was writing about how difficult it is to trust the information being given by our leaders and our medical experts and how their abuse of power makes us all victims of the situation. Then George Floyd was murdered in the most excruciating example of abuse of power, and the images of protesters with their arms up and people kneeling in sympathy rendered the lyric literal as well as figurative. We were now 'living history' in two painful stories. So that's what I wrote and that's what we recorded."

Since debuting online, Back Alive has sparked a powerful response from viewers, garnering over one thousand hits, and leading people to ask if the song will be available as a download. Patrick will, therefore, release Back Alive as a single sometime in the next week. Cabaret Hotspot correspondent Sue Matsuki picked up the video release as a story and shared it on their website, urging people to watch: "This song needs to be heard and watched by everyone. Patrick somehow was able to write a song expressing what many of us are feeling."

That is what an artist does best - create, illuminate, and find the feelings and words for us when we cannot find them for ourselves.

See Patrick DeGennaro BACK ALIVE below or clicking THIS link


Related Articles View More Cabaret Stories

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes & More

From This Author Stephen Mosher