03.14.07 Michael Friedman
I'm not sure why I feel the need to post this, because Lawd knows that no one reads my blog and not the New York Times
, but, hey, he's
my pal, so, hey, he's
getting a post: My absurdly talented friend, [J.] Michael Friedman
, got a profile in the Times Arts section this weekend.If you were at the wedding, Michael
was the guy who got stuck at the Long Beach airport and had to, literally, phone in his
singalong with Jason and Curtis when they did "I Will Never Leave You."I used to live with Michael
, in the late 90s, in our awesome three bedroom on the Upper West Side. (The picture was taken at a party we had in 1998 or 1999.) And when I moved down to the West Village, Michael
and I had a standing date on late Wednesday afternoons. (Or was it Tuesdays?) First, we met at Les Deux Gamins, and then at Pastis.We spent a lot of time at the Phoenix together, talking about music and theater and movies and boys and books and our college friends.I really miss Michael
Anyway, it's a sweet article, and it captures his
wit and genius and talent, though it doesn't quite capture how freakin' fast he
My favorite song is "Etch-a-Sketch"-which is about 1 hour and 40 seconds into the recording I linked to-because it's so, so Michael
...IT has been said about the composer and lyricist Michael Friedman that he can do a little bit of everything.
And judging by his
current to-do list, it's true.
A member of the highly regarded downtown theater troupe the Civilians
, Mr. Friedman
is hanging out these days in Colorado Springs with eight members of the group, writing songs for a theater piece about evangelicals in America.On a recent 24-hour visit to New York he
talked over a quick lunch in Greenwich Village about being "terrible at time management" and ending up "overly busy because I get excited by things and can't say no."
Among those things: the music for this summer's Shakespeare in the Park production of "Romeo and Juliet," which begins previews June 5; a musical adaptation, with the director Daniel Aukin, of Jonathan Lethem's celebrated 2003 novel, "The Fortress of Solitude"; the score for an adaptation of the 2004 movie "Saved!," a comedy about teenagers at a Christian high school, being developed at Playwrights Horizons; "Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson," a satirical musical Mr. Friedman
wrote, which he
hopes will be produced in the fall; and the untitled project on evangelicals, which is scheduled for workshops in New York in April.Mr. Friedman
, a lanky, boyish-looking 31, has a reputation for fluency in a variety of musical styles â€" pop, salsa, rock and folk among them â€" while critics have singled out his
lyrics for their playful comic images layered atop potent emotional messages.
played the piano and cello while growing up in Philadelphia, it wasn't until he
took a class in musical composition at Harvard
, where he
was a history and literature major, that he
considered becoming a full-time musician.That may have happened because he
met the composer Elizabeth Swados, who taught the composition course and who has had perhaps the greatest influence on his
musical life so far.
"My entire career, almost all the people I know and the work I've done," Mr. Friedman
said, "can be traced back to Liz Swados."
To write the score Mr. Friedman
iPod loaded with "a mix of things that will be helpful to listen to and live the play as I walk around the city": Mediterranean music, "Romeo and Juliet" classics by Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev, contemporary pop."I find myself listening to a lot of Justin Timberlake right now," he
said with a laugh.
It is how he
has always composed, he
said, often listening to music in the background while he
writes other music in his
head: "I like writing while distracted, so New York is really good for me.I do some of my best writing on the subway."
It was through Ms. Swados that Mr. Friedman
first went to the Williamstown festival in 1999.
...In 2001 Mr. Cosson, with Mr. Friedman and a band of theater performers, founded the Civilians, known for taking real-life dialogue from interviews on contemporary themes and turning it into a lively, often comic cabaret mishmash.
wrote the music and lyrics for the group's first piece, "Canard, Canard, Goose?"Playful yet potent, the songs carry an alternative edge reminiscent of those by Stephin Merritt, who is one of Mr. Friedman's
said, along with Richard Rodgers and Poulenc.
In Colorado Springs, Mr. Friedman
is again working with a Civilians
team, as well as students from Colorado College
, on a theater piece about religion and the social fabric of the city.In addition to the Gill Foundation
, which supports lesbian and gay causes, Colorado Springs is home to the conservative Christian organization Focus on the Family and New Life Church
, where the Rev. Ted Haggard was senior pastor until he
quit last year when a former male prostitute said that the two had had a sexual relationship.Mr. Friedman
has been participating in musical jamborees that sometimes precede services in churches around the city."The music at these places is incredible," he
" â€˜Fortress' is a history of soul music on a particular block in Brooklyn," Mr. Friedman