Compositions

SONGS

Driller Killer (1989)

Toothpaste (1989)

Decrees & Regulations (1990)

I’m Glad That I’ve Got A Head (1990)

Washing Up (1990)~ order it here

On Being Dead (1990) ~ order it here

A Song Of Note (1992)

 Bleeding (1990) ~ order it here

Your Boyfriend (1993)

Dipstick Calypso (1994)

Waltz of Forgiveness (1995) ~ watch the video here

The Octopus Song (1996) ~ watch the video here

Being Disembowelled With A Spoon (1996)

The Archbishop Of Canterbury (1996)

Visceral Love Song (1996)

Sick of Being Healthy (1997)

  Satisfied With My Socks (1997) ~ new recording on sale here

Men in Black (1997)

The Jorvik Viking Centre (1997)

Monsieur Grenouille (1998)

The Cherry Orchard (1998)

Mobile Phone Song (1998)

Plonk! (1998)

Mine At Last (1999)

Burns Nicht (1999) ~ watch the video here

~ or buy the track here 

Caveman Song (2000)

Thing In My House (2000)

Real People (2000)

Crazy (2001)

Bush Song (2002)

Creation Song (2002) ~ order the new recording here

Bris Song (2002) ~ watch the video here

James And Jack (2003)

One More Moment (2004)

I Will Be Meeting You Tonight (2004)

Give Up (2004)

Jerusalem (2005)

I’m A Muslim (2007)

The People Who Live Far From Here (2009)

Farewell My Love (2010) ~ watch the video here

Mike & George & Steve (2011) ~ watch the video here

Watcher Of The Skies (2014)

Any Time Anywhere (2014)

The Ballad of Julia (2014)

   Street Gazers (2015, with Sylvie-D)

Song

Instrumental version

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MUSICALS

Faust (1997)

Book & lyrics by Joshua Kohlmann, music by David Bignell

Below are recordings of the composer singing all the songs from the musical, with commentaries, lyric changes and explanatory notes.

ACT ONE

My Enormous Brain

In which Faust muses, alone in his study, that for all his academic learning he is still ignorant of everything in life that matters. After he sings the song, he conjures the devil Mephistopheles, with whom he signs a contract (in blood, of course) to the effect that Mephistopheles will serve him in this world in return for his soul in the next. Faust can’t make head or tail of the contract but signs it anyway.

The lines “French and Tongan, Japanese,/ Danish, Welsh and Portugese” in verse 2 have since been amended to “I can fluently discourse/In Italian, French and Norse”, which spares the listener the tedium of sitting through a pointless three-line list of languages. In verse 3, “I’ve been storing up since I was four” is now “And here, poor fool, I stand once more”. This is not only a true rhyme (as opposed to an identity), it is also a direct quote from Goethe’s original.

Transition (Easter Chorus)

Actually a full chorus for the girls of the village, of which this is merely a fragment. Faust, having sold his soul to Mephistopheles, has now been rejuvenated by a witch and is in pursuit of pleasure. As it happens, he meets the virtuous but repressed Margaret and is instantly smitten. Mephistopheles, however, learns that the girl’s brother is a bloodthirsty soldier who is fiercely protective of his sister. He attempts, unsuccessfully, to dissuade Faust.

Just Listen To Yourself

Faust’s love is not unrequited, but Margaret’s mother, an overbearing puritan with a heart condition, forbids the union. Faust sends his beloved some jewels, stolen by Mephistopheles, but the mother intercepts them and sings the following.

Jewel Song

On the lines “I will kill the serpent!/ I will save you from damnation!” etc, the mother smashes the jewels with a rolling pin. Exactly how she plans to “destroy the serpent within” is not clear, but she walks offstage after speaking the line, brandishing the rolling pin aloft; and when Faust meets Margaret the next day, she is sporting an ugly bruise. Mephistopheles plants the idea in Faust’s mind that, as the mother has a weak heart, a sudden shock might remove her as an obstacle to the young lovers.

It Isn’t Really Murder

In which Faust puts the grisly idea to Margaret. Here they try to persuade themselves that inducing a fatal heart attack in a frail old woman is a perfectly moral thing to do. Meanwhile, Mephistopheles has assured Faust that the local undertaker will dispose of the body, thus removing the evidence.

The Confrontation

The couple present themselves to the unsuspecting mother as newly engaged, with Faust depicted as an irresponsible, drunken, foul-mouthed, lecherous and generally hideously unsuitable fiance. This has the desired effect.  Unfortunately, Margaret’s brother Valentine and his rag-tag army of yobbos and troglodytes choose this moment to return from the war.

Violence

Valentine has heard the news of his mother’s death and of his sister’s shameful relationship with Faust, and is out for blood.

Torture Song

If the director wishes to cut any material for reasons of length, this one should be the first to go. It is a self-indulgent list song that adds nothing whatever to the story. The rhyme “eat him with mustard or chopped up in custard” is nothing short of puerile and the only defence I can offer for the line “In a manner quite placid, in sulphuric acid his head you might immerse” is that I was 25 and influenced by the egregious lyric style of W.S.Gilbert, including tortuous syntax of this sort.

Bleeding

Valentine challenges Faust to a duel, which Faust surprisingly wins. The victory is the result of Mephistopheles, not actually using his diabolic magical powers, but making silly remarks to distract Valentine, who bleeds to death, leaving his loyal army to pursue Faust. (If this song sounds familiar, it should. It is a very slightly tweaked version of “Bleeding” from the song list above.)

ACT TWO

Walpurgis Night

A traditional musical-comedy style Act 2 opening, complete with ABAC form, tap dance interlude and high-kicking finale. A year on, Valentine’s body has been interred and Faust and Mephistopheles are celebrating the annual witches’ Sabbath Walpurgis Night, where a chorus of evil spirits pay homage to the devil. After the song, one of said spirits informs Faust of what happened to Margaret after he abandoned her. The next scene, told in flashback, finds Margaret alone and singing a sad song of pure love.

The King Of Thule

Adapted from Goethe’s original.

Dark Visions

Margaret’s conscience taunts her in the guise of evil spirits, in the midst of which the ghost of her mother appears. The song she sings is a mildly edited version of “On Being Dead”. She informs Margaret of Faust’s betrayal, Mephistopheles’ real identity, and the fact that she, Margaret, is now pregnant with Faust’s child.

Back in the present, Faust wrests the extra information out of the evil spirit: Margaret went mad, killed her child and is due to be executed the very next day. He confronts Mephistopheles with this and accuses him of withholding this information. He resolves to break into Wittenberg jail and rescue the woman he loves.

Save Her

(Lyric change: “Who got her in this dreadful mess, Mephistopheles?/ Guess, Mephistopheles” now reads “Who made her life a living hell, Mephistopheles?/ Well, Mephistopheles?”) The rescue plan runs into its first difficulty when it emerges that Mephistopheles is actually not a devil at all, but the village undertaker in disguise. Faust, in horror, looks at his contract again, only to discover that he hasn’t bequeathed his soul to Mephistopheles (now revealed as Hieronymus Formaldehyde), but rather his body. Mephistopheles gloats.

No-One Would Suspect

Faust reminds “Mephistopheles” that he is still bound by the terms of their agreement.

In The Dungeon

Margaret’s song as she awaits her execution shows the disordered state of her mind. This song is what is known as an “eleven o’clock number” and as such was supposed to be a showstopper. Unfortunately, it never quite had that effect because the song that precedes it brought down the house every night. “No-One Would Suspect” might therefore be termed a quarter to eleven number.

The Rescue

Faust and Hieronymus break into the dungeon and drag a gibbering Margaret from her cell. On their way to freedom, they are stopped by the executioner, who has no intention of being cheated of his victim. Happily Faust manages to persuade him to behead Hieronymus instead. The executioner is rewarded with a post at Freiburg University (with Faust as his referee), Mephistopheles is decapitated and Faust and Margaret live as happily ever after as is possible given that Margaret is now completely insane.

Joshua’s other musicals are: Playtime (1998, music & book by John Morgan); Princess Ambrosia (1998, book by Joshua Kohlmann, music by David Bignell); John Giovanni (2006, music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart); The Saga Of King Olaf (2019, book, lyrics & music by Joshua Kohlmann); and the forthcoming The Bible Show (TBC).