99 - a rock opera

All songs composed by Mark Baughman

Copyright 2015-2019

Pete, a bureaucrat from the Cleveland Department of the Environment, is tasked with managing a group of protestors (the “99-ers”) who have taken over a downtown park. The leader of the 99-ers turns out to be Sarah, his college flame, and while he is thrilled to see Sarah again she crushes him with a rebuke that he is a sell-out. Pete’s reaction to the 99-ers featured speaker, “The Gardner” makes Pete wonder if Sarah’s right. Meanwhile Henry, who was living in the park, is now made homeless by the very protesters who purport to defend him from the bureaucracy. Opposition Leader, media savvy Captain America, sees an opportunity in Henry’s plight and a square off ensues.

 

SEE THE PARADE

Neighborhood militias

Drop their kids off at school

They have guards at every corner

While they’re sharpening their tools

Tools that have their channels

And their frequencies

They say they have the cure

When it’s the same disease

 

The laugh’s on me

I think the joke’s on you

Can you see the parade?

Do you have a good view

 

My cousin scored with TSA

He got the job of his dreams

Feeling prepubescents

And peeking over the screens

My uncle got arrested

Then had a heart attack

The cops they said they’re sorry

Some things you can’t take back

 

The laugh’s on me

I think the joke’s on you

Can you see the parade?

Do you have a good view?

PETE

I need a plan of action

An agenda or a quest

I need someone to tell me

Which way they think is best

'Cause I'm living for reactions

To tell me how I feel

Between the warring factions

Between the flesh and the steel

 

The joke's on me

I think the laugh's on you

Can you see the parade?

Do you have a point of view?

 

Can you see?

I want to see

Can you see?

Can you see?

 

 

NO CROSSING THE LINE

SARAH

Can you see it?

Can you feel it?

I bet ya' they're not laughing now

We were sinking

Now I'm thinking

That this can come together somehow

 

CHORUS

This can come together somehow

 

PROTESTER 1

I'm not stressed out

Not by self-doubt

My parents built a shrine in my home

I'm a genius

And the thing is

I don't have to know it alone

 

CHORUS

You don't have to know it alone

You don't have to go it alone

 

This is now the place and the time

No stopping us now

No crossing the line

Come now or leave us behind

No crossing the line

 

PROTESTER 2

Was a drop out

Then I found out

The secret standing right next to me

Now my girl friends

Think the world ends

At the end of the horizon I see

 

CHORUS

The world is the horizon you see

 

PROTESTERS 3 & 4

We can school you

We can fool you

We got answers and it's questions you seek

We can lead you

We can feed you

The things that turn the strong into weak

 

CHORUS

We can turn the strong into weak

We can turn the strong into meek

 

This is now the place and the time

No stopping us now

No crossing the line

Leave whatever brought you behind

You stand with us now

You're towing the line

This is now the place and the time

No stopping us now

No crossing the line

Come now or we'll leave you behind

No crossing the line

 

INTERLUDE  where banging drums, chants and melodies play simultaneously while protesters speak out slogans from signs:

PROTESTER 1

You know things are screwed up when librarians are marching

 

PROTESTER 2

If they declared a war on poverty maybe they'd spend some real money on it

 

PROTESTER 3

I could lose my job for having a voice

 

PROTESTER 4

I love humanity. Let's figure this shit out together

 

PROTESTER 1

Close corporate tax loopholes, tax organized religion, legalize weed, bring back Arrested Development

 

PROTESTER 2

When the power of love is greater than the love of power, then the world will know peace

 

PROTESTER 3

You're tie looks like a noose.

 

SARAH

Run for cover

Sister, brother

And wake up to a brand new day

 

SARAH & PROTESTERS 1, 2 & 3

We don't need no

Manifesto

When this is over we will show you the way

 

CHORUS

This is now the place and the time

No stopping us now

No crossing the line

Leave whatever brought you behind

You stand with us now

You're towing the line

This is not a bump in the road

No minor setback

No shift in the load

We're all in don't need a new deal

It just takes a wish

To make the dream real

This is now the place and the time

No stopping us now

No crossing the line

Come now or we'll leave you behind

No crossing the line

FREEZE ME OUT

Knee deep

Some creep

Got us started

Broken hearted

Cried for help but no one heard the call

Hold on

Sold on

New messiah

Old pariah

What was all the fuss for after all?

 

Some day

One way

Or another

He's your brother

Tell you that you have to take him in

Next town

Same frown

Clerks and waiters

Investigators

Want to know what's out and what is in

 

You freeze me out

Heat me up

Reel me in

Let me down

Freeze me out

Heat me up

Reel me in

Let me down

 

Ask you

Task you

Smell the leather

Sell the weather

Wait for news to wash up on the shore

Last night's

Highlights

Out of breath

Out of depth

Why don't we ask questions anymore?

 

March on

Our lawn

Load the gun

Aim and run

I just can't be bothered anymore

Mercenaries

Don't seem scary

In their suits

Pick the fruits

Frightened moms just dropped them on the floor

 

You freeze me out

Heat me up

Reel me in

Let me down

Freeze me out

Heat me up

Reel me in

Reel me in

Just to let us down

 

 

THE GARDNER

I won't work for you until you live for me

I won't put these chains on unless they set me free

I won't plow the fields until the harvest's over

I won't believe in you until you believe in me

Won't believe in you until you believe in me

I won't climb the lookout until you've seen the shore

I won't join the army until you've won the war

 

This is my garden

 

 

I won't read the book until I know the story

I won't step out front until I know there's glory

I won't feel the pleasure until you feel the pain

I won't step outside if the sky is dark and stormy

Won't step outside if the sky is dark and stormy

I won't let you have it; it's just having is to much

I decide what's right and wrong, you wait for my touch

This is my garden

This is my garden

 

 

I won't tell the truth 'till you believe my lies

I won't live in peace until everybody dies

I won't dress the wounds until the healing's over

You win't see me coming until you close your eyes

You won't see me coming until you close your eyes

I won't play the hero until I've won for sure

I won't put my money down until I know the score

 

This is my garden

This is my garden

This is my garden

This is my garden

 

 

OZARK ANGEL

Runnin' out of gas

In the Oklahoma hills

I was bleary and tired

I was fresh out of pills

Rolled into a parking lot

A quarter to four

I only just got here

I can't take anymore

But the morning mist rose through the Ozark trees

I could hear music playing

A stranger walked up and offered me keys

Now, what was he saying?

 

I fell in with a crowd

And that's where I met the angel

I sang for her

And she prayed for me

Her body it was willin'

But her spirit wasn't able

To break the promises

That set her free

Walkin' down the road in the early morn'

I could hear music playing

Hurt, dejected and newly born

What was she saying?

 

She told me a story

An epochal poem

Where villains fought heroes

Headed for home

 

Drivin' down the road when my time was done

Was liberated

Over the bridge, into the sun

I was elated

 

I finally found my Penny

When I settled back east

She put down her books and her tapestries

Livin' out here

Is like a movable feast

But we don't know what's real and what's fantasy

Well, walkin' down the road 'neath the Ozark moon

You can hear music playing

If I ever get back, wouldn't be too soon

I can hear angel saying:

 

“Your life is a story

We all play a part

Keep winners and losers

Both close to your heart.”

 

 

BROTHERS IN BLUES

 

Come in the door

And beckon your friends

This little place

We call “Misery Ends.”

This is the place were all of your dreams will come true

Dive in your drink

Talk to a friend

Make a new start

Or come to the end

This is the place where all of us come to get through

 

The barmaids are fresh

The band’s playin' tight

The girl in the front

Could go at it all night

I wouldn't do it. I know, I've seen her before

You know the story

Her man done her wrong

She looks for redemption

In every song

Been there myself, and wondered – is there nothing more?

 

We have fallen

We are fallen

Stop for a moment of time, search for the true

Brothers in blues

Everyone's talking with nothing to say

Listening for music that no one can play

I'll play you something I know somewhere you can feel

 

I didn't do college

I dropped out of school

Just like my daddy

And he was no fool

He taught me that life wasn't simple, easy or fair

I could be you

And you could be me

You could have been

What you wanted to be

Could've, should've, now, who really cares?

 

We have fallen

We are fallen

Stop for a moment of time, search for the true

Brothers in blues

Everyone's talking with nothing to say

Listening for music that no one can play

I'll play you something I know somewhere you can feel

 

 

 

AMERICAN  LEGION

 

All alone in a crowded hall ballroom

Sarah is lost in a dream

There's a song at the edge of her conscience

The tune through her lips softly sing

There's a boy who brought her to pasture

Let her run wild, running free

Not a toy, not a game or a plaything

Crowd blocks his view, doesn't see

I could have known her

But never have owned her

Enthralled her with all of my tales

She looked right past me

Her hollow glanced cast me

Adrift, without any sails

 

And the band plays faster and louder

Sarah spins slowly around

With her hand gently painting the air

She imagines the orchestra's sound

Well the boys just ordered a round

It's time for those stories again

For the noise of the laughter and shouting

Disguise what really being said

She found her heaven

At Seven - Eleven

The night shift, she sleeps through the days

Children fill emptiness

Settled for taking less

Dreams are now lost in the haze

I could have taken you on a great journey

Could have met princes and kings

A beautiful palace high in the hills

Where the choir you're dancing to sings

 

 

 

WORDS FAIL ME

 

Words, they fail me

I need them now

I need some way

To ask him how

I need the man

Who slowly drifted away

Comes, he goes

Eats, he reads

He never asks for

What he needs

Sits silently

Holding what he has to say

And somehow he colors

Everything I see

Our lives became entangled

A vine around a tree

 

Time steps slowly

Then rushes on

A name, a phrase

And soon you're gone

The things you know

Are the things you know the least

What can burt you

You can't see

Where you're going to

You can't be

You set sail for the west

And wound up headed east

I was so self-assured

Now in this lonely place

I reach into the shadows

I need to touch his face

If I must fight this battle

From the center of this field

Surrounded by my demons

At the moment I might yield...

He’s here, he never left me

Now we can bear

Close my eyes and touch him

He was always there

 

 

EDGE OF THE WOOD

 

When the sun goes cold

And evening folds

It's blanket over our eyes

We can see the world daylight hides

The night makes sounds

That reflect down walls

That form dark rooms

The echoes call

To come with them, to dream, to find

 

I chose the trees

And their canopy

To hide my past

And destiny

Dark like the night, here in the wood

The sound of a stream

A breeze through the trees

I live in a world

That no one sees

I live here alone, bound by the edge of the wood

And now I need asylum

 

The truth be told

It was not that bold

To choose to live my days

With my back to the future

I closed my eyes

It wasn't me

They came to see

When they broke through

My serenity

Their chants and their cheers

Covered my cries

And now I need asylum

Over the edge, here at the edge of the wood

 

 

Don't you think you'll be safe

Past the edge of the wood?

Is it true that you see

What the rest of us should?

Yes we're thinking it's time

That we sit where you stood?

Yes we think you'll be fine

Past the edge of the wood

 

Don't you think you'll be safe

Stepping over the line?

Do you think you'd be heard

If you spoke out this time?

Did you think that you could

Just explain us away?

Did you think once you spoke

We'd have nothing to say?

Now the sky’s turning violent

With flashes of light

And the clouds dark with rain

And the wind and trees fight

Well you better find shelter

Get out of the cold

Get up off of the street now

And do what you’re told

Yes we think that it’s time

That we sit where you stood

Yes we think you’ll be fine

At the edge of the wood

 

By the end of this song

We will sit where you stood

Yes we think you’ll be fine

Past the edge of the wood

 

 

 

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA

 

When I was a young boy

I turned on my TV

Caught the fire and brimstone and

I thought it could be me

Well I heard my calling

And now I’m calling out to you

Well it may not be religion

But it will have to do

 

I witnessed to the people

Who lived below my room

We sat up late and chanted

A patriotic tune

Now I’m streaming from a bunker

Spreading wisdom through the waves

If you’re living through your leaders

That will make you slaves

 

Well you can call me “captain”

Call me “reverend”, call me “sir”

If you ask me where we’re going

I’ll tell you all where we were

Yes you can call me “captain”

I will lead you, God knows where

And if you’re lookin’ for trouble

I got a cross for you to bear

 

I will keep you warm

When I wrap you in this flag

I will turn the volume up

In case things start to drag

You don’t need distractions

From things you got to do

I’ll just push some buttons

And I know you’ll follow through

 

Yes you can call me “captain”

I will lead you, God knows where

And if you’re lookin’ for trouble

I got a cross for you to bear

 

Call me “captain”

I’m your captain

Yeah, captain

And if you think you want some trouble

Well, I got a cross for you to bear

 

And if you’re looking for trouble

Well, I got a cross for you to bear

 

 

 

TIME TO GO

 

In my room

All the people standing ‘round

They don’t know that I can see them

They don’t know that I can hear

They don’t know how this feels

Never felt this kind of peace before

You brought to me

Are you here for me?

Is it time to go?

 

All my life

This moment seemed so far away

And now it’s come on me so fast

Now my future is my past

Now I don’t regret a thing

Nothing I have to answer for

You take my hand

I come aboard

We drift away

 

 

 

MARY WAITS AT HOME

 

We were out on a ledge

And it rained and then it hailed

Somehow we found our way down

And though it seemed like we had failed

We found a place

With miles and miles to roam

Where nothing could harm us

Where Mary waits at home

 

We were out on the street

And the cars were driving past

Oh, we tried to catch a ride

But the wheels too fast

So we made a place

We would never be alone

Where nobody could bother us

Where Mary waits at home

She’s waiting for his anger

Waiting for his peace

Waiting for his poetry

And pointless stories cease

She’s waiting for maturity

Waiting for success

She’s waiting for his genius

To see that he’s been blessed

 

It was nighttime in the currents

High above the earth

Ooh I thought I saw a star

At the moment of its birth

And the sky grew bright

And endlessly I roam

Seeking nobody’s company

While Mary waits at home

 

 

THE BATTLE

SARAH:

Someone get the clubs out

Sharpen up your shiv

Now we’re gonna see

Which side is gonna give

They’re gonna test our mettle

We’re gonna draw their blood

They’re gonna wade in

And drown in our flood

This is why we came here

And we won’t run away

There’s millions more just like us

If we need another day

This is what we live for

Now you just mark the day

Win or lose – we’re victors

That’s how these stories play

 

We are rising

This place once belonged to us

We’re gonna take it back

Henry died because of you

And the park that you jacked

We might bring our children

To watch us make this stand

We might throw out everything

Just to see where it will land

 

History may be the judge

But who will be the jury?

Who will tell the truth

Of this day of sound and fury?

This is why we live here

To be, and be alone

There’s millions more just like us

Just hiding in our homes

 

We are rising

 

We are rising

 

 

I AM NOT AFRAID

MARY

So you’re the one he’s been talking about

 

SARAH

You’re Mary? You’re older than I pictured

 

 

MARY

I thought it would be good to meet?

 

SARAH

What then? Maybe you’ll read me some of your poetry

 

MARY

Why are you so angry?

 

SARAH

Why are you so not?

 

MARY

What are you afraid of?

 

SARAH

I’m afraid of not….a thing

 

MARY

If you say so

 

SARAH

I am not afraid

I am not afraid

 

SARAH

Well, you sit there with your smile

And your middle class style

With your buttoned up blouse

And your picket fence house

 

 

You were Daddy’s best girl

Taught you ‘bout the world

You never had to worry

‘Bout the ending of the story

 

So easy to sit and judge

Don’t have to hold a grudge

 

Don’t have to hold in pain

Don’t have to start again

Don’t have to think ahead

Don’t have to make your bed

Don’t have to read the signs

Don’t have to close the blinds

 

I don’t have to worry

‘Cause I am not afraid

 

MARY

I know what real fear is

And I am not afraid

 

I Know what it is to face fear

And I am not afraid

 

 

HOW DID WE GET HERE?

 

Early this morning

When I got off the bus

It was them versus us

It was all so perfectly clear

No clear direction

I was here for the trip

Running circles and flips

And now I can’t figure out

How I got here

 

I can remember

Borrowing, so many people, so many owed

What do I know?

Knowledge, belief?

Elation and grief

Were happy companions

For me on this road

 

The night that I left my

Family and friends

Just means seeking ends

Looking for clues

For the puzzle I made

Instead of the truth

I rationalized

A thousand small lies

A thousand characters

In the parade

 

It came to me

Thought I was free, just taken in by the glow

Where do I go?

And where do I start?

With whom do I part?

And what’s going to happen to me on this road

Carrying this load?

 

Where do I go?

And where do I start?

With whom do I part?

And who’s going to be there with me on this road?

I think I know

 

 

LINES IN THE SAND

There are things in this world

I held to be true

Something happened to me

And it happened to you

Like someone took their hands from over our eyes

Now the world

Doesn’t seem the same

My camera sees
What was out of frame

I see you, I see me, I see sun and the earth and the skies

 

Went toe to toe

Went face to face

When one of us fell

Somebody’d take our place

Wherever we were, we would come to the call

 

Battle lines we drew in the sand

Just blew in the wind like nothing was planned

We found in the end we had nothing to stand

For at all

 

The sun came up in the east today

And tomorrow it’s likely to do the same

Doesn’t care about some fools who fought in a park

What matters to you is what matters to me

And weren’t you surprised how much we agreed

What really matters is truth that’s clear and stark

 

Went toe to toe

Went face to face

When one of us fell

Somebody’d take our place

Wherever we were, we would come to the call

Battle lines we drew in the sand

Just blew in the wind like nothing was planned

We found in the end we had nothing to stand

For at all

 

At all

 

You asked to exchange

I went on attack

You asked to see proof

I was walking it back

I wasn’t so wrong

I wasn’t so right

I wasn’t so sure

So I started a fight

Pointlessly shouting

Nothing is heard

Pointlessly writing

Just rhyming a word

Deep in your conscience

You hear a voice

Listen or not

You must make a choice

 

We are….

 

You are my sister and brother

We were put here to love one another

Not soldiers to fight for people we can’t see

I love you enough you give you my hand

To rescue your soul, to make a new plan

Stand together with those who long to be free

 

Went toe to toe

Went face to face

When one of us fell

Somebody’d take our place

Wherever we were, we would come to the call

Battle lines we drew in the sand

Just blew in the wind like nothing was planned

We found in the end we had nothing to stand

For at all

 

We are wanting

We are wanting

 

 

 

 

There are things in this world

I held to be true

Something happened to me

And it happened to you

Like someone took their hands from over our eyes

Now the world

Doesn’t seem the same

My camera sees
What was out of frame

I see you, I see me, I see sun and the earth and the skies

 

Went toe to toe

Went face to face

When one of us fell

Somebody’d take our place

Wherever we were, we would come to the call

 

Battle lines we drew in the sand

Just blew in the wind like nothing was planned

We found in the end we had nothing to stand

For at all

 

The sun came up in the east today

And tomorrow it’s likely to do the same

Doesn’t care about some fools who fought in a park

What matters to you is what matters to me

And weren’t you surprised how much we agreed

What really matters is truth that’s clear and stark

 

Went toe to toe

Went face to face

When one of us fell

Somebody’d take our place

Wherever we were, we would come to the call

Battle lines we drew in the sand

Just blew in the wind like nothing was planned

We found in the end we had nothing to stand

For at all

 

At all

 

You asked to exchange

I went on attack

You asked to see proof

I was walking it back

I wasn’t so wrong

I wasn’t so right

I wasn’t so sure

So I started a fight

Pointlessly shouting

Nothing is heard

Pointlessly writing

Just rhyming a word

Deep in your conscience

You hear a voice

Listen or not

You must make a choice

 

We are….

 

You are my sister and brother

We were put here to love one another

Not soldiers to fight for people we can’t see

I love you enough you give you my hand

To rescue your soul, to make a new plan

Stand together with those who long to be free

 

Went toe to toe

Went face to face

When one of us fell

Somebody’d take our place

Wherever we were, we would come to the call

Battle lines we drew in the sand

Just blew in the wind like nothing was planned

We found in the end we had nothing to stand

For at all

 

We are wanting

We are wanting