Assassins Soundtrack Lyrics
ASSASSINS SYNOPSIS Lyrics
Assassins opens in a fairground shooting gallery, with calliope music playing. Amidst flashing lights, we see a series of male target figures, dressed in the fashions of the past two hundred years, trundle by on a conveyor belt. The fair's prize shelf, in addition to the usual array of stuffed toys and souvenirs, includes a sexy life-sized female doll, money, elaborate scrolled documents, books, newspapers, and fancy jars of colored liquid. The Proprietor stands behind the counter. Leon Czolgosz, a scruffy, sullen laborer in his late twenties, shuffles in sadly. The music changes to a slow, disgruntled beat.
The Proprietor advises Czolgosz he can chase his blues away by killing a President, pointing out that assassination is a skill at which even rank beginners can excel ('Everybody's Got the Right?). As Czolgosz picks up a gun, John Hinckley, a soft, plump, 21-year-old, ambles aimlessly in. The Proprietor convinces him he can improve his love life and impress his dream girl by shooting a President. They are joined by Charles Guiteau, who enters furtively, dressed in black. His shoes are polished, but he wears no socks. The Proprietor says he can overcome failure by killing a President, and he steps up to the shooting gallery. He is soon joined by Giuseppe Zangara, a tiny, angry man, who groans and rubs his stomach. The Proprietor promises shooting a President will relieve his pain. The next arrival is Samuel Byck, in a dirty Santa suit, carrying a sign that says, 'All I Want for Christmas Is My Constitutional Right to Peaceably Petition My Government for the Redress of My Grievances. 'As the Proprietor encourages him to pick up a gun, Lynette Fromme, a small, intense girl wearing red religious robes, and Sara Jane Moore, a bright-eyed, heavy-set, middle-aged woman, enter. The Proprietor signs them up after Moore has a great deal of difficulty finding the proper change in her purse. John Wilkes Booth appears, accompanied by the faintly sinister music we heard at the beginning of the show. The Proprietor introduces him as the group's pioneer and distributes ammunition. Booth leads the assembled assassins through the end of the song, proclaiming:
Rich man, poor man,
Black or white,
Pick your apple,
Take a bite,
Just hold tight
To your dreams.
Got the right
To their dreams.
As the assassins take aim, we hear 'Hail to the Chief,' and Lincoln's arrival offstage is announced. Booth excuses himself and a shot rings out. Booth shouts, 'Sic semper tyrannis!'
The Balladeer sings the story of John Wilkes Booth ('The Ballad of Booth'). We see Booth and his accomplice David Herold hiding in a tobacco barn in rural Virginia. Booth knows he is about to be captured and is trying to write his justification for his actions in his diary. His statements that his actions were politically motivated are juxtaposed with the Balladeer's comments that Booth's motives actually have to do with his own personal problems. As Booth is shot by a Union soldier, he throws the Balladeer his diary, begging him to tell his story to the world. The Balladeer recites Booth's version of events as Booth shoots himself. As Booth dies, the Balladeer concludes that Booth was a madman who left behind a legacy of butchery and treason. He points out that, ironically, in trying to destroy Lincoln, Booth actually elevated him to legendary status. The Balladeer points out the futility of the assassin's actions, saying:
Hurts a while,
But soon the country's
Back were it belongs,
And that's the truth.
Still and all...
Damn you Booth!
Booth, Hinckley, Czolgosz, Byck, Guiteau, and Zangara are gathered in a bar. In the course of the scene, we begin to gain insight into each of their twisted lives. Booth continues to encourage them to become the masters of their own fates.
A radio report that Zangara has attempted to assassinate Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 'How I Saved Roosevelt, 'members of the crowd speak into microphones telling the radio audience their distorted impressions of the event they have witnessed; everyone is convinced that he or she personally saved the President's life with some seemingly inconsequential action. We see Zangara strapped into the electric chair. He sings of his refusal to be scared, stating he didn't care whom he killed as long as it was one of the men who control all the money. He actually meant to kill Herbert Hoover, but the weather in Washington was too cold. He is furious that as an 'American nothing' he doesn't get any photographers at his execution. Assassin and crowd are both concerned with their media images. The lights dim, rise, dim and go out as Zangara is electrocuted.
We hear the anarchist Emma Goldman speaking offstage as Leon Czolgosz listens, enraptured. He introduces himself to her after the speech and declares he is in love with her. She encourages him to redirect his passion to the fight for social justice. She refuses to allow him to carry her bag, saying, they make us servants, Leon. We do not make servants of each other, but he insists on carrying it anyway.
Squeaky Fromme and Sara Jane Moore meet in a public park. Fromme smokes a joint and speaks of her obsession with Charles Manson, the mass murderer. She declares herself his lover and slave. Juggling her purse, a Tab, and a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Moore says she is a narc for the FBI or used to be; has been a CPA; had five husbands and three kids; and suffers from amnesia. Fromme insists Manson is going to emerge as king of a new order and make her his queen. Moore is sure she knew Manson when he was much younger. The scene ends as they both give the portrait of Colonel Sanders on Moore's bucket of chicken the evil eye, then blast it to pieces with their guns.
A barbershop quartet for Booth, Czolgosz, Guiteau, and Moore ('Gun Song'), in which they comment on the power of a gun to change the world.
We see Czolgosz at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, watching President McKinley shaking visitors' hands in the Temple of Music Pavilion ('The Ballad of Czolgosz'). The Balladeer traces Czolgosz as he works his way down the receiving line of fairgoers who see only the positive elements of McKinley's image. When Czolgosz finally reaches the head of the line, he shoots McKinley.
Samuel Byck in his soiled Santa suit sits on a park bench in Scene 9, with a picket sign and shopping bag. He drinks a Yoo-Hoo and talks into his tape recorder. He is sending a message to the composer Leonard Bernstein, begging him to save the world by writing more love songs. By the end he is accusing Bernstein of ignoring him just like the other celebrities with whom he has tried to communicate.
Squeaky Fromme and John Hinckley are in Hinckley's rumpus room exchanging thoughts about their loved ones, Charles Manson and Jodie Foster. Fromme mocks Hinckley, saying he doesn't even know Foster. Hinckley orders Fromme to leave. After she goes, he sings of his love for Foster ('Unworthy of Your Love'). In limbo, Fromme sings the same song to Manson. Hinckley starts shooting at a photo of President Ronald Reagan that is projected on the back wall. The picture keeps reappearing as Fromme mocks Hinckley's inability to kill the President.
Charles Guiteau gives the clumsy Sara Jane Moore tips on shooting and tries to kiss her. When she rebuffs him, he assassinates President Garfield. Scene 12 shows Guiteau standing at the foot of the gallows reciting a poem, 'I Am Going To The Lordy' (which the real-life Guiteau did in fact write on the morning of his execution). The Balladeer describes his trial and execution ('The Ballad of Guiteau') as Guiteau cakewalks up and down the gallows steps.
Squeaky Fromme and Sara Jane Moore are implementing their plan to assassinate President Gerald Ford. Moore has brought along her nine-year-old son and her dog, whom she accidentally shoots. The President, also clumsy, comes along, and in spite of his attempts to assist her collect some dropped bullets, Moore fails to assassinate him. Fromme's gun doesn't go off, so both attempts are botched.
Samuel Byck is in his car on the way to the airport to hijack a plane, which he plans to crash dive into the White House. He recites a disjointed litany of complaints about contemporary American life and then announces the killing of the President as the only solution.
Crowd noises supply a slow, wordless lamentation for the victims of the assassins as Czolgosz, Booth, Hinckley, Fromme, Zangara, Guiteau, Moore, and Byck review their motives. They all ask for the prize they expected as the result of their actions. The Balladeer replies that their actions didn't solve their problems or the country's. There is no prize. The assassins, newly united with a common purpose, reply there is a different song stirring in America ('Another National Anthem') that continues to grow louder and louder, sung by all Americans who believe themselves dispossessed by the dream. As long as it's possible for the mailman to win the lottery, there is always the chance you can get a prize. They insist:
If you can't do
What you want to,
Then you do
The things you can.
Lee Harvey Oswald is preparing to kill himself in a storeroom on the Sixth Floor of the Texas School Book Depository. Booth interrupts him and tries to convince him to murder President Kennedy instead. He summons Guiteau, Czolgosz, Zangara, Fromme, Moore, Byck and Hinckley from the shadows, telling Oswald that by joining them, he can at last be part of something ('November 22, 1963'). The assassins who preceded Oswald say he will bring them back; those who come after him say he will make them possible, by once again making assassination a part of the American experience. His act can give them historical power as a unified force, not as a bunch of isolated lunatics. Oswald refuses. Booth entices him with the statement that when Hinckley's room is searched after his assassination attempt on President Reagan, Oswald's writings will be found. Booth summons up the voices of Arthur Bremer (who attempted to assassinate Governor George Wallace), Sirhan (who assassinated Senator Robert Kennedy) and James Earl Ray (who assassinated Reverend Martin Luther King), telling Oswald that he holds the key to the future in his hands. Oswald again refuses. The assassins implore him to act so their own acts can be reborn. He can free them from being merely footnotes in a history book. They say they are his family. Oswald crouches at the window and shoots...
The shocking impact of Oswald's deed is expressed by American citizens who gather together onstage and sing a ballad describing where they were when they heard President Kennedy had been shot ('Something Just Broke').
The assassins reappear in limbo singing ('Everybody's Got The Right: Reprise'). All of their guns go off at once-Blam!!