Posted on May 26, 2006 at 11:44 am

I’m really crazy with work these days (everyone should have such problems), so this blog will seem a little bit random, but I thought these were both fun tracks so you can think of this as my Happy Memorial Day Blog 2006.

I mentioned in one of the previous blogs my work for State Farm Insurance.  Every couple of years, State Farm does a big industrial show for which I write the music and lyrics.  The first selection today comes from the first State Farm show I wrote, in 1998.  The theme of that show was “Building Our Brand,” and it was all about the importance of making State Farm the name you think of when you think of insurance.  To that end, we used examples of other companies that had successfully established themselves as the preeminent brand in their field: Nike, Coca-Cola, Kleenex. The shining example of brand identity, then and now, was McDonald’s, so we wanted to write a song that really showed how successful McDonald’s had been in imprinting themselves on the public consciousness.  Hence, a young girl and her mother at the mall.

The singer is young Alyse Wojciechowski, who was the perfect showbiz brat then and is now a beautiful young woman with a remarkable voice.  Her mother is played by Nicole van Giesen, who I met doing this industrial and who then went on to understudy Sherie Rene Scott in “The Last Five Years” and ultimately play the role of Cathy in the Philadelphia production.   And the “Simpsons”-style orchestration was perfectly created by Brian Besterman.

“More Than A Hamburger” (1998)
Music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Dialogue by Doug Frew
Orchestration by Brian Besterman
Alyse Wojciechowski, Nicole van Giesen: vocals
JRB: piano/conductor
Sal Spicola, Alva Hunt, Robert DeBellis: woodwinds
Roger Wendt: French horn
Stu Satalof, Winston Byrd: trumpets
Clint Sharman, Garfield Fobbs: trombones
Dean Thomas: percussion
Tom Partington: drums
Kevin Kuhn: guitar
Randy Landau: bass
Henry Aronson: synthesizer/associate conductor
Suzanne Ornstein, Xin Zhao, Ron Oakland: violins
Mia Wu: violin/viola
Clay Ruede, Tatiana Margulis: celli
Recorded and mixed by Jeffrey Lesser at Clinton Recording Studios, NY NY, July 1998

And then this track is pretty straightforward: “She Cries” has been a part of the Caucasian Rhythm Kings setlist since we started doing concerts in 2002, and we’ve made it a showcase for all of us to have a chance to play and show off. This is another of the live recordings we had originally intended for the “Wearing Someone Else’s Clothes” album, but this is the perfect place to put it.

“She Cries”
from Songs for a New World (1995)
Music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
JRB: piano, vocals
Gary Sieger: acoustic guitar
Randy Landau: fretless bass
Recorded by Dave Swanson at the Cutting Room, NY NY, June 2002
Digital editing by Dave Swanson at RPM Studios, NY NY, January 2004
Mixed by Jeffrey Lesser at RPM Studios, NY NY, March 2004

Have a fantastic barbecue-filled holiday, and I’ll be back next month with more music! And for any NYC fans, come see the concert on June 12 at Birdland, it’ll be a rockin’ post-Tony fiesta!

Until next time,