On Broadway

 

 

On Broadway - (2009)    

Claude McKay

for medium voice and piano


 

About me young and careless feet
Linger along the garish street;
    Above, a hundred shouting signs
Shed down their bright fantastic glow
    Upon the merry crowd and lines
Of moving carriages below.
Oh wonderful is Broadway--only
My heart, my heart is lonely.

Desire naked, linked with Passion,
Goes strutting by in brazen fashion;
    From playhouse, cabaret and inn
The rainbow lights of Broadway blaze
    All gay without, all glad within;
As in a dream I stand and gaze
At Broadway, shining Broadway--only
My heart, my heart is lonely.

[ 4 pages, circa 3' 00" ]


Claude McKay

 

The text is drawn from Harlem Shadows , The Poems of Claude McKay, New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922, and has been included in a number of anthologies since.  For more on this poet please see my setting of The Harlem Dancer.

 

 

A lightly syncopated music-hall style accompanies the text, which does not follow the written scansion of the poem, but has been broken up into smaller segments with the repeated insertion of the phrase and title, "On Broadway." For this the first stanza breaks into three sections, in an AAB form which is then repeated again for the second stanza.

 

 

The B of this form drops into the subdominant and is a written-out phrase of 4 followed by 4+1 beats, at measure 25 as if bridge material. But it provides a break in mood, such that by measure 31 the last line of each stanza is more pensively lyrical.

 

 

The score for On Broadway is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.

 

On Broadway