LyricsPrologue: Ragtime

David Loud

Last update on: July 22, 2017
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In 1902 Father built a house at the crest of the Brodview Avenue hill in New Rochelle, New York, and it seemed for some years thereafter that all the family's days would be

warm and fair. The skies were blue and hazy, Rarely a storm. Barely a chill La la la la... The afternoons were lazy, Everyone warm. Everything still. La la la la... And there was distant music, Simple and somehow sublime, Giving the nation A new syncopation- The people called it Ragtime! Father was well-off. Very well-off. his considerable income was derived from the manufacture and sale of fireworks and other accoutrements of patriotism. Father was also something of an amateur explorer. The house on the hill in New Rochelle was Mother's domain. She took pleasure in making it comfortable for the men of her family and often told herself how fortunate she was to be so protected and provided for by her husband. Mother's Younger Brother worked at Father's fireworks factory. He was a genius at explosives. But he was also a young man in search of something to believe in. his sisterwondered when he would find it. Grandfather had been a professor of Greek and Latin. Now retired and living with his daughter and her family, he was thoroughly irritated by everything. The days were gently tinted Lavender pink, lemon and lime. Ladies with parasols Fellows with tennis balls There were gazebos, and... The were no negroes. And everything was Ragtime! Listen to the Ragtime! In Harlem, men and women of color forgot their troubles and danced and reveled to the music of Coalhouse Walker, Jr. This was a music that was theirs and no one else's. One young woman thought Coalhouse played just for her, Her name was Sarah. Ooooh... Booker T. Washington was the most famous Negro in the country. He counselled friendship between the races and spoke of the promise of the future. he had no patience for Negroes who lived less than exemplary lives. Ladies with parasols, Fellows with tennis balls. There were no Negroes And there were no immigrants. In Latvia, a man dremed of a new life for his little girl. It would be a long journey, a treeible one. He ould not lose her as he had her mother. His name was Tateh. He never spoke of his wife. The Little Girl was all he had now. Together, they wouuld escape. Houdini! Look it's Houdini! Ooh... aah! Ooh... aah! Harry Houdini was one immigrant who made and art of escape. He was a headliner in the top Vaudeville circuits. Ich bin die Mutter des grossen Houdinis! He mad his Mother proud. But for all his achievements, he knew he was only an illusionist. He wanted to believe there was more... Hello, sonny. Warn the Duke! What did you say? And there was distant music Changing the tune, changing the time, Giving the nation A new syncopation: La, la, la. La, la, la... Certain men make a country great. They can't help it. At the very apex of the American Pyramid- -That's the very tip-top!- Like Pharoahs reincarnate, stood J.P. Morgan. And Henry Ford. All men are born equal. But the cream rises to the top! Let me at those sosn of b**ches! These men are the demons who are sucking your very souls dry! I hate them! Someone should arrest that woman! The radical anarchist Emma Goldman fought against the ravages of American capitalism as she watched her fellow immigrants' hopes turn to despair on the Lower East Side. La la la La la la la Whee! But America was watching another drama. Evelyn Nesbit was the most beautiful woman in America, If she wore her hair in curls, every woman wore her hair in curls. Her lover was the eminent architect, Stanford White, designer of the Pennsylvania Station on 33rd street. Her husband, the eccentric millionaire, Harry K. Thaw, was a violent man. After her husband shot her lover, Evelyn became the biggest attraction in Vaudeville since Tom Thumb. La la la la la Bang! La la la Bang! La Bang! And although the newspapers called the shooting the Crime of the Century, Goldman knew it was only 1906... And there were ninety-four years to go! Whee! And there was music playing, Catching a nation in its prime... Beggar and millionaire Everyone, everywhere Moving to the Ragtime! And there was distant music Skipping a beat, singing a dream. La la la la A strange, insistent music Putting out heat, Picking up steam. La la la la The sound of distant thunder Suddenly starting to climb... It was the music Of something beginning, An era exploding, A century spinning In riches and rags, And in rhythm and rhyme. The people called it Ragtime... Ragtime! Ragtime! Ragitme!

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