Red-Headed Girl -
for medium voice and piano
Shake back your hair, O red-headed girl.
Let go your laughter and keep
your two proud freckles on your chin.
Somewhere is a man looking for a
red-headed girl and some day maybe he
will look into your eyes for a
restaurant cashier and find a lover, maybe.
Around and around go ten
thousand men hunting a red headed girl with two
freckles on her chin.
I have seen them hunting, hunting.
Shake back your
hair; let go your laughter.
[ 4 pages, circa 1' 30" ]
The text is originally titled, "Red-Headed Restaurant Cashier", from
Sandburg's anthology, Smoke and Steel, published in 1920.
The up-tempo setting for this poem underscores an "up tempo" and optimistic
piece of advice to the young lady in question. The syncopation urges on this
sense of optimism and zest for life, as is the expression, "let you hair
down." The lingering augmented dominant moves the harmonies forward as does
the bass line's walk.
As the look and structure of this prose poem hides a repetitive structure, I
found in it a scansion which lends itself easily to a two verse song form, a
lyric phrase introducing a "verse" at measure nine which is then repeated
nicely for the last lines of the poem, beginning with "around and
around...." This made the delicious and now repeated "maybe" a perfect
dramaturgical fulcrum between the two verses.
The score for Red-Headed Girl 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.