Piti Theatre and Me!

Song #8: Electromagnet (That’s What I Am)

thumbnailPainting by Godelieve Richards

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Piti Theatre and Me!  (See below for lyrics to ‘Electromagnet’)

About 8 years ago, I played an opening set for a movie at Pot Hole Pictures, a classic film series in Shelburne Falls, MA.  Although it’s not a paid gig, playing at PHP is sort of a rite of passage for independent musicians in Western MA.  The weekly event takes place in a once-grand, historical building called Memorial Hall.  The police department is downstairs and upstairs is a huge, beautifully funky old ballroom/theater.  On the weekends they show popular old movies and they always have a local musician as the opener. That night it was just me and the piano.  The piano was an ancient upright set up on a wheeled dolly to make it more portable and there was one of those antique wooden piano stools with crystal claw feet.  The seat was stuck at the highest setting and if I sat on it I could reach the keys but  my feet barely touched the ground and the whole thing kept swinging to the left.  I don’t remember the movie.  Only about 20 people were in the audience.  I got paid with chewy popcorn.  It was a fun night with a sweet vibe.

I’m giving you all the details of this gig just to reiterate the often-pointed out point that life, (specifically MY life and my own music career), often unfolds through a series of random and inauspicious events.  Especially starting out as a musician, you never know what gig will lead you to the next thing.  If I hadn’t done that gig, I might not be doing the work I get to do today.

After the show I was approached by a couple who introduced themselves as Jonathan Mirin and Godelieve Richards.  They said they had a local theater company called Piti Theatre.   Godelieve liked my song about obsessive thinking, ‘Song For My Addiction’, and they wanted to do a choreographed dance to it. “Sure!” I said.

They ended up instead choreographing a dance to my song ‘Small White Rock’, but that was the beginning of us working together.  They asked me if I wanted to collaborate with them on a “play with music” they were doing.  The idea was that I would co-write songs with Jon, plus write other music for the show.  It would be an educational piece for children and adults, entertaining and humorous, but dealing with an intense subject: Colony Collapse Disorder in bee hives.  I’ve always wanted to write for musical theater and this was actually going to be a paid job so I felt pretty excited.  But, I was also skeptical.  It seemed like a depressing subject for a kid’s show.

CDC is indeed a depressing subject, but I quickly discovered that Piti Theatre has a way of making wonderfully entertaining, educational, poignant, smart, FUNNY art out of some of the trickiest subjects around.

I have to just say right here, that Jon and Godelieve are two of the most dedicated, hardest working artists I have ever met.  Together they form Piti Theatre and they each wear a bunch of different hats:  Jon writes, directs, teaches, and does all the booking, promotion, grant-writing and fund-raising; Godelieve co-designs the shows, designs and builds all the sets, props and costumes, plus does the choreography.   They are also dedicated activists: many of the shows they create have a strong environmental/social justice message.  They are using their art to change the world and I feel really honored to get to be a part of it.

‘To Bee Or Not to Bee’ was our first project together and since then we’ve collaborated on about 9 different shows, with various themes, which we have performed in public schools, libraries, festivals, and community centers throughout New England.

Two years ago, Piti and I received  a two-thousand dollar grant from Club Passim in Boston, via the Iguana Fund.  We used the money to help make a compilation of 16 of our favorite songs from some of the “mini-musicals” we’ve done.  This collection is a pot pouri of songs covering many different subjects/themes and includes songs from educational residencies at public schools as well as songs from our two touring plays, ‘To Bee or Not To Bee’, and ‘Innocenzo’.  It took us awhile, but we’re finally finished and will be releasing the record, ‘Piti Theatre’s Greatest Bits, Vol. I’, this Spring 2018.  I love all of these songs and am really excited to share them with people!

For the next 15 weeks or so I’ll be posting songs from this collection. This week’s song is called ‘Electromagnet (That’s What I Am)’ and was performed in a show with third graders as the culmination of a residency studying magnets at the Ryan Road School in Florence, MA.

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Electromagnet Song
by Jonathan Mirin and Carrie Ferguson

Performed by Carrie Ferguson
Bass and Guitar: Tommy Byrnes; Clapping: Ian Byrnes and Carrie Ferguson
Recorded and Mixed by Tommy Byrnes at Sovereignty Music, Bernardston, MA
Mastered by Angelo Quaglia, Northfire Studio, Amherst, MA

What’s the secret of my force?
Electric current, it’s a powerful force
I’m an Electromagnet, I can lift a car
Electromagnet, I’m a magnet star

I got a wire coil inside of me
Flowing with electricity
Wrapped around a metal core
Of ferromagnetic soft iron ore

Electromagnet, that’s what I am
Electromagnet, let me say it again
Electromagnet, I can lift a car
Electromagnet, I’m a magnet star

Well, I get a lot of work in industry
In loudspeakers, generators, MRI machines
You can use me to make your motor go
All I need is that electric flow

Electromagnet, that’s what I am
Electromagnet, let me say it again
Electromagnet, I can lift a car
Electromagnet, I’m a magnet star

Yeah!
Whoah!
Uh huh!
Hey!

When you flip the switch and the voltage flows
The stronger the current, the stronger I pull
But when you turn me off, I must confess
I’m just another weak magnet like all of the rest

Electromagnet, that’s what I am
Electromagnet, let me say it again
Electromagnet, I can lift a car
Electromagnet, I’m a magnet star

Yeah!
Whoah!
Uh huh!
Hey!

Electromagnet, that’s what I am
Electromagnet, let me say it again
Electromagnet, I can lift a car
Electromagnet, I’m a magnet star

Yeah, electromagnet, that’s what I am
Electromagnet, let me say it again
Electromagnet, I can lift a car
Electromagnet, I’m a magnet star

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