The Music of Elizabeth Alexander

No One Gets A Program

A bluesy, sassy take on a wise old saying

Words by Dutch proverb / Elizabeth Alexander

“In the concert of life, no one gets a program.” Dutch proverb

This song might start out as a simple blues riff tune, but it soon gleefully elaborates on the proverb’s wry sentiment, taking the singers and audience through a “concert hall” of wildly unexpected possibilities. Funny and sassy and poignant, this song overflows with whimsy, philosophy, and joie de vivre.

In keeping with this song’s genesis (and departure) from a standard blues riff, there are various opportunities for improvisation, from subtle nuances to all-out flings.

Details and Ordering Information

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Composer Notes

Composer Notes

This proverb burned a hole in my pocket for over 10 years before I found the opportunity to bring its musical possibilities to fruition. What a blast it was to write! (Sometimes being a composer is so fun I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m awake.)

Text

No One Gets a Program

“In the concert hall of life, no one gets a program.” Dutch proverb

The world was making music long before I joined the show,
I still have lots to learn, but there is one thing that I know:
No one gets a program in the concert hall of life.

You never see the music, you never see the text,
You know you’re on when someone hollers: Honey, you’re up next!
No one gets a program in the concert hall of life.

Sometimes you’ll find your courage, sometimes you’ll lose your nerve,
Sometimes you won’t be ready when life pitches you a curve:
No one gets a program in the concert hall of life.

In all my years of living, there’s one thing that I’ve learned:
You never know when you’re gonna get burned!
No one gets a program in the concert hall of life.

Expect the unexpected, anticipate surprise,
And be prepared to improvise —
No one gets a program in the concert hall of life.

Sometimes you’re suddenly dancing a waltz,
Then when you’re just getting used to it, out of the blue comes a
Polka! Grab a partner! Enjoy it while you can,
for it won’t last forever.
There will be days when you sing songs of praise,
There will be elegies, there will be lullabies.

So tap your feet, and take it in, and sing along, my friend,
Enjoy it while you can — ’cause you don’t know when it will end —
No one gets a program in this concert hall,
There is no dress rehearsal or a crystal ball,
But everyone who sings their heart out gets a curtain call.
There’s an opening in the chorus,
Won’t you join us in the concert hall of life?

Dutch Proverb
Additional lyrics by Elizabeth Alexander
© 2010 by Elizabeth Alexander

Performers

Performers

Premiere: Marti Mendenhall, Elisabeth Harrington and Elizabeth Alexander (Madison, WI)
Andy Wilkowske, Kathleen Humphrey, Ruth MacKenzie and Elizabeth Alexander (St. Paul, MN)
Henry Sgrecci and Emma Vawter (Bethesda, MD)
Sheryl Bass and Mary Ellen Heelan (Palatine, IL)