We recently published Pat Foran’s musical “The Truth about Florence Henderson’s Floating Notes.”
Here we ask him two questions about his story:
1) There is so much music in this piece — the singer in the beginning, the floating notes themselves and, of course, the musicality of your language. Was there a particular song that inspired this piece, or one that you listened to while writing it?
There wasn’t a particular song that inspired it, but I was listening to the newly mixed version of The Beatles’ White Album (the 50th anniversary six-CD set released in November 2018) the day I was writing this. It’s possible listening to a new mix of a record I knew backwards and forwards, a mix that enabled me to hear instrumental and vocal moments I hadn’t heard before, inspired me to listen to myself differently, to hear my voice a little differently, to let the words tumble out a bit differently. But television — how it sounds to me, how it sings to me, how I experience it — was more of an inspiration here. TV has a rhythm, dimensionality and voice all its own, especially (for me) shows from the late 1960s and early 1970s. And I think that’s where my head was, what my ears were listening in on and listening for, that day.
2) Florence Henderson is best known for her role in the Brady Bunch. Why did you choose her as the voice for this piece, as the owner of these floating notes?
Yes, she’s best known as Carol Brady. But Florence Henderson was a singer — first in musicals on the stage, and later on TV. She also was a guest on a lot of TV talk shows and hosted a show or two of her own. When the initial chorus of listeners in this story — the baby antelope, the zebra and the orangutan and the toucan — started to hear what they heard, it had to be Miss Florency, given where my head was at and the way my brain works. I saw Florence Henderson in that scene. I heard her. It probably didn’t hurt that her name has a singsong quality to it, a certain flow. Her Carol Brady hair had a certain flow to it, too — like when she had it cut in the “flip” style during the middle (and seminal) Brady episodes. That the unpretentious and generally joyous Ms. Henderson sang a “Wessonality” jingle in a commercial for Wesson cooking oil probably sealed the deal. She had to be the one to birth those notes.