We All Share the Same World
"We all share the same world, and we breathe the same air, and the water we drink must be cycled with care. We are closer together than ever suspected, for all things on earth are interconnected." I wrote those words well over twenty years ago. They were lyrics waiting for a tune. They were part of a musical I hoped one day to see produced. And then lots of other things happened, and I put that project aside.
Sometimes the words to a song have to wait a long time before they find the right music. I became acquainted with Daniel Carter on Hubpages last fall. He was a composer looking for a playwright and lyricist to collaborate on a musical. I sent him an excerpt from my play The Debt Collector, which included the lyrics to "We All Share the Same World." He wrote a beautiful, haunting melody just right for the words. Listen to it yourself, below, as sung by Colleen Dick, (Hot Dorkage on Hubpages). The piano accompaniment is by Anita Hammond, a friend of mine from grad school, who prefers a guitar, but is great on the piano, too. Except for Anita and me, who went to Rice together, the rest of us have never met in person, and it's all thanks to Hubpages and the internet that this collaborative effort came into being.
We All Share the Same World
"We All Share the Same World" is meant to convey two conflicting points of view, and in The Debt Collector it is sung by two characters: Siren and Blood. Siren is a social worker trying to protect the interests of the downtrodden, and Blood is the Debt Collector, a vigilante enforcer of contracts operating outside the law. The beginning of the song expresses Siren's world outlook, and the part starting with "It is true what you say" all the way to the end of the song is Blood's take on the issues.
Below is a synopsis of the play.
A Synopsis of THE DEBT COLLECTOR
I came up with the idea for The Debt Collector while practicing law in Grand Prairie, Texas in the 1980s. Most of my clients were below the poverty line, as was I, for that matter. Many of the cases I regularly took were the sorts of cases other lawyers only accepted pro bono, after they were done with their paying customers whom they billed by the hour. I was paid a flat fee, or when the law allowed, a percentage.
Texas is a debtor state, or it was at the time, which meant that almost everything was exempt. As such, it was impossible to legally collect an unsecured debt. What I saw in my practice was that creditors are not always rich and debtors are not always poor, and the laws that were in effect to protect the "meek" from the "wealthy" in fact operated to protect the shifty from the upright, and to tempt everyone to try to short change everyone else. There was no such thing as debtor prison, except in the case of child support.
In those days, women were encouraged to divorce their husbands and apply for welfare, while AFDC eventually went after the hapless ex-husbands, and garnished their wages or imprisoned them -- not to pay for the children's upkeep, but to reimburse the State for its trouble.
Poor parents who refused to go on the dole were threatened with criminal negligence and the loss of their children. Landlords who offered an inexpensive place to live were prevented from evicting non-paying tenants due to humanitarian considerations. Rental income was considered "unearned" by the IRS and landlords were effectively kept out of the social security game.
In the end, everyone who tried to behave responsibly was thwarted and anyone who wanted to skate by was encouraged, and all in the name of brotherly love, charity and the "best interest of the child."
How much of that is still true today? I don't know. I left it all behind me when I went to grad school in 1991. Many of the details may have changed, but I think that the big picture is probably still the same.
At the time, I felt helpless to change the situation. So I invented the Debt Collector, somebody who could make it all better, because his hands were not tied with red tape.
Does The Debt Collector stand a chance of being produced? It always seemed highly unlikely, back when I first wrote it, and in the decades that followed, but then it never had music before. Daniel Carter has written some amazing compositions to go with my lyrics, each piece different, and each one just right for the words. I'm feeling optimistic.
And even if the dream of producing the musical has to be deferred for yet a while, I feel that this song in particular -- "We All Share the Same World " -- has the potential of transcending the play and making a place for itself among the songs that people sing.
(c) 2010 Aya Katz
- We All Share the Same World by Aya Katz and Daniel Carter
A new stage musical in progress called "The Debt Collector" shares the feature song from the work. By Aya Katz and Daniel Carter.
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