Red-Headed Girl - (2009)
for medium voice and piano
Shake back your hair, O red-headed girl.
Let go your laughter and keep your two proud freckles on your chin.
Somewhere is a man looking for a red-headed girl and some day maybe he
will look into your eyes for a restaurant cashier and find a lover, maybe.
Around and around go ten thousand men hunting a red headed girl with two
freckles on her chin.
I have seen them hunting, hunting.
Shake back your hair; let go your laughter.
[ 4 pages, circa 1' 30" ]
The text is originally titled, "Red-Headed Restaurant Cashier", from Sandburg's anthology, Smoke and Steel, published in 1920.
The up-tempo setting for this poem underscores an "up tempo" and optimistic piece of advice to the young lady in question. The syncopation urges on this sense of optimism and zest for life, as is the expression, "let you hair down." The lingering augmented dominant moves the harmonies forward as does the bass line's walk.
As the look and structure of this prose poem hides a repetitive structure, I found in it a scansion which lends itself easily to a two verse song form, a lyric phrase introducing a "verse" at measure nine which is then repeated nicely for the last lines of the poem, beginning with "around and around...." This made the delicious and now repeated "maybe" a perfect dramaturgical fulcrum between the two verses.
The score for Red-Headed Girl is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.