A Face In The Crowd (musical)
Elvis Costello has written at least 18 songs for A Face In The Crowd, a planned stage musical based on Budd Schulberg's story originally published as Your Arkansas Traveler and adapted into the 1957 film A Face In The Crowd written by Schulberg, directed by Elia Kazan, and starring Andy Griffith.
The musical's book is written by Sarah Ruhl, who had previously collaborated with Elvis on an unfinished musical about WHER, the all-female Memphis radio station.
An invitation-only reading of A Face In The Crowd was held in New York on June 10, 2016. The New York Post reported that Elvis and his backers want Hugh Jackman to star. The Swiss newspaper Zürich Tages Anzeiger reported the musical was expected to premiere in 2017. In December 2017, Broadway World reported that the project would be going into its third workshop in the near future.
Elvis premiered nine of the songs in concert in the spring of 2016 and an additional song in the fall of that year. He continues to play them live on Detour.
A detailed article about this project can be found at the ecsongbysong blog.
In a recent interview with the Irish Examiner, Elvis said: "The truth of it is that Schulberg was an extremely smart writer about human nature. If he were to be alive today he would probably include social media along with television and radio in this story — the ability to shape opinion but similarly create monsters.”
Songs played live
- A Face In The Crowd, premiered April 12, 2016 in Salt Lake City, obviously shares a title with the film.
- Vitajex, premiered April 13, 2016 in Jackson, concerns the miracle pill featured in A Face In The Crowd. (Vitajex is also the subject of song in the film, but Elvis' song is an original.)
- Blood & Hot Sauce, premiered April 13, 2016 in Jackson, is sung by Lonesome Rhodes, the character portrayed by Andy Griffith in the film.
- A Town Called Riddle, premiered April 15, 2016 in Boise, refers to Lonesome Rhodes' hometown of Riddle, Arkansas.
- Burn The Paper Down To Ash, premiered April 15, 2016 in Boise, is intended for the Marcia Jeffries character, played by Patricia Neal in the film. It is usually sung by Rebecca Lovell in concert, although Elvis sang it himself May 24, 2016 in Milan and September 11, 2016 in Singapore.
- They Call Me Mrs. Lonesome, premiered April 16, 2016 in Eugene, is for Rhodes' first wife, played by Kay Medford in the film.
- American Mirror, premiered April 17, 2016 in Bellingham, could be another Marcia Jeffries song, or possibly for Mel Miller, the character played by Walter Matthau in the film.
- The Last Word, premiered May 31, 2016 in Brescia, is sung by Lonesome Rhodes on his radio show. Budd Schulberg's original short story describes Lonesome Rhodes singing a song with the lyrics "never leave a first love just to have the last word."
- Big Stars Have Tumbled, premiered June 4, 2016 in Zaragoza, is sung by Lonesome Rhodes and was introduced as "the moment when the devil is humbled and taken down." When Elvis performed the song for a Rosanne Cash webcast, she introduced it as the last song in A Face In The Crowd.
- Does Your Doll Speak, premiered July 26, 2020 in Vancouver, as part of The Immobile Tour Backstage webcast.
An additional seven songs were registered with ASCAP at the same time as most of the songs listed above. It has not been confirmed that they are also associated with A Face In The Crowd.
These songs have not been heard publicly, although Elvis used the phrase "He Makes My Water Boil" in introducing the Marcia Jeffries character at the London Palladium.
- Don't Put Me On
- He Makes My Water Boil
- How Could You Know?
- Miss Hot Mischief (American Truth)
- Nice Guys Come Last
- Why Don't You Jump In?