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Say it Ain’t So, Joe

October 21, 2014

Today at work, I had the good fortune to listen to most of the RAGGEDY ANN AND ANDY movie soundtrack on a free MP3 site. I reveled and marveled in the highly polished score, and great vocal performances. On the right side of the screen, I spotted the link for an MP3 for songs for the musical RAG DOLLY, which was a very different adaptation of the movie. Broadway fans already know that though RAG DOLLY was a hit in Russia, it was met with failure in New York. Well, I wanted to hear this for myself. It couldn’t be THAT bad, could it?

It pains me to tell you that it IS that bad. It starts off with a promising prologue which plays on the title song, but dear, oh dear, it falls off the rails in a hurry. To start, Joe’s lyrics keep swinging back and forth between too kid-friendly to too grim and serious. This is not the talented lyricist who gave us BEING GREEN. The music did feature the movie’s two best-known songs, BLUE and the title song, but the rest of Joe’s score is at best unsettled. I just sat there, shaking my head in sad disbelief! I kept asking myself over and over what happened here, and could not come up with anything other than Joe was trying to please two audiences, but just couldn’t make it work. I actually had to stop listening after a few tracks, because I just couldn’t bear any more.

If there’s a lesson to be learned it’s that even the greatest and most talented among us can have a misfire or two. Joe’s still tops in my book, and I choose to continue to cheer his legacy. My only wish is that he had been given another chance to fix RAG DOLLY. I know it would have been so much better.

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