Lyrics

Content Warnings: These lyrics contain spoilers. Some of the lyrics, especially those depicting racism of the time (including songs 4, 10, 15, 16, and 18) may be offensive or upsetting to listeners.

01 Johnson’s Mystical Oil

YOUNG BERT:
IS YOUR HEART HEAVY?
DO YOUR KNEES ACHE?
DOES YOUR BACK START TO CRACK ‘CAUSE YOU LACK
THE MEDICINE YOU NEED TO TAKE?

WELL, MY FRIENDS, JOIN ME,
AND YOU’LL HEAR TELL
OF A TRUE, OVERDUE THING THAT’S NEW,
GUARANTEED TO MAKE YOU WELL!

JOHNSON’S MYSTICAL OIL,
A CURE FOR EV’RY ILL.
YOUR MUSCLES ALL ACHE; YOU CAN’T HELP BUT SHAKE,
AT LEAST, THAT IS, UNTIL

YOU TRY OUT
JOHNSON’S MYSTICAL OIL.
EACH ANCIENT CURE COMBINED.
IF YOUR PAIN IS CHRONIC, THEN THIS IS THE TONIC
YOU ALWAYS HOPED YOU’D FIND.

THE MOUNTAINS OF BURMA,
THE CAVES THROUGHOUT FRANCE,
THEY’RE TEEMING WITH WONDERS
YOU CAN’T HOPE TO GLANCE.

WE TRAVELED THE GLOBE
OVERTURNED EV’RY STONE.
IT’S THE CURE-ALL THAT YOU’RE ALL
SO EAGER TO OWN.

SO TRY SOME
JOHNSON’S MYSTICAL OIL
TO CURE YOUR WINTER COLD.
IF YOUR VISION IS FAILING, YOU’RE NO LONGER AILING.
INSTEAD YOU CAN BEHOLD
A WONDER:

JOHNSON’S MYSTICAL OIL–
IT WILL PUT YOU RIGHT,
AND YOU’LL PUT AWAY THE APPLE A DAY
FOR A SPOONFUL EV’RY NIGHT!

THE DEAF ALL START HEARING.
THE WOUNDS ALL REPAIR.
THE RESTLESS ARE SLEEPING.
THE BALD ALL GROW HAIR.

THE DUMB ALL START SPEAKING.
THE MEASLES RETREAT,
AND THOSE WHO WERE LAME
BECOME FLEET ON THEIR FEET!

SO, RAISE UP YOUR BOTTLE.
YOU CAN FEEL SWELL,
AND YOU’LL SHOCK EV’RY DOC TILL THEY SQUAWK,
‘CAUSE THEY ONLY THRIVE WHEN YOU’RE UNWELL.

BUT YOU’LL HAVE
JOHNSON’S

CROWD:
JOHNSON’S!

YOUNG BERT:
MYSTICAL OIL—
IT WILL PUT YOU RIGHT,
AND YOU’LL PUT AWAY THE APPLE A DAY
FOR A SPOONFUL EV’RY NIGHT!
THAT’S RIGHT! IT’S JOHNSON’S

CROWD:
JOHNSON’S!

YOUNG BERT:
MYSTICAL OIL—
A ONE-STOP TREATMENT PLAN.
THERE’S NOTHING ON EARTH YOUR HEALTH ISN’T WORTH,
SO BUY SOME WHILE YOU CAN!

ALL:
JOHNSON’S MYSTICAL OIL!

02 I Can Make ‘Em Laugh

YOUNG BERT:
I CAN MAKE ‘EM LAUGH, POP.

NO ONE HATES THOSE WHO BRING THEM JOY.
THROUGH THE LAUGHTER AND THE CHEERS,
MAYBE THEY’LL FORGET THEIR FEARS,
‘CAUSE I MADE ‘EM LAUGH.

03 How Can I Choose?

CHARLIE:
THEY SAY THAT EVERYBODY HAS A PERFECT MATE.
YOU WAIT TO FIND THE GAL YOU FIND IS WORTH THE WAIT.
YOU FIND YOUR MATCH, AND THEN THE GAME IS WON.
BUT WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN TO YOU,
EV’RY DOLL IS THE PERFECT ONE?

THERE’S BETTY, WHO’S READY
TO BAKE YOUR FAV’RITE CAKE.
THERE’S LIZZY, WHO’S BUSY
COOKING YOU A STEAK.

THERE’S CARRIE WHO’S MERRY
AND ETHEL’S NO SNOOZE,
BUT WITH SO MANY CHOICES,
HOW CAN I CHOOSE?

THERE’S CLARA, WHO’LL WEAR A
DRESS TO IMPRESS.
THERE’S LILLY, WHO’S REALLY
A WONDER NO LESS.

THERE’S JOSEY WHO’S COZY
AND FLORENCE TO CRUISE,
BUT WITH SO MANY CHOICES,
HOW CAN I CHOOSE?

EACH ONE’S A VISION,
A LILY WHITE DELIGHT.
CAN’T I SEE A DIFF’RENT GIRL
EV’RY NIGHT?

THERE’S MABEL, WHO’S ABLE
TO CHEER UP HER MAN.
THERE’S LENA, WHO’LL CLEAN A
HOUSE SPICK AND SPAN.

EACH ONE A WONDER.
I REALLY CAN’T LOSE,
BUT WITH SO MANY CHOICES–
YES, WITH SO MANY CHOICES–
YES, WITH SO MANY CHOICES,
HOW CAN I CHOOSE?

04 The Coon Can

BERT:
WHO COULD PUT AWAY WATERMELON BY THE TRAY?

THE COON CAN.
WHO CAN WHILE AWAY WHILE THE OTHERS WORK ALL DAY?
THE COON CAN.

WHILE THEY’RE PICKIN’ COTTON,
HE’LL SAY IT’S HOT AN’
HE’LL BLOT A LOT AND FAN.
WHO’D RATHER PICK OUT A BANJO LICK?
THE COON CAN.

WHO CAN HAVE A SON AND SAY, “WHY I HAVE JUST BEGUN?” THE COON CAN.
WHO CAN MAKE A TON OF PICKANINNIES ONE BY ONE?
THE COON CAN.

ALL OF HIS CHILLEN
CRY LIKE THEY WILL AN’
HE HAD HIS FILL AND
RAN

WHO CAN HAVE TEN KIDS
AND THEN SWEAR THAT THEY AIN’T HIS?
THE COON CAN.

WHO CAN WAIT FOR NIGHT TO STEAL A CHICKEN OUT OF SIGHT?
THE COON CAN!
WHO’S GONNA BITE, PULL A RAZOR OUT AN’ FIGHT?
THE COON CAN!

AIN’T IT A SHAME
WE DON’T KNOW HIS NAME
‘CAUSE WE ALL LOOK THE SAME
TO THE KLAN.

WHO CAN RUN AWAY
AND LET OTHER DARKIES PAY?
THE COON CAN.

YES, WHO CAN RUN AWAY AND LET OTHER DARKIES PAY?
THE COON CAN!

05 Say Goodbye

GEORGE:
SAY GOODBYE TO EARNING YOUR KEEP
WORKIN’ FOR CHEAP,
NIGHTS WITHOUT SLEEP.

NOW IT’S TIME TO SHOW WHAT WE’VE GOT.
READY OR NOT,
THIS IS OUR SHOT!

SO, PACK YOUR WIGS AND PACK THE CORK.
THE BOYS ARE GOIN’ TO NEW YORK!

BERT:
SAY GOODBYE TO SECONDHAND WIGS,
RICKETY DIGS,
LIVING LIKE PIGS.

NOW IT’S TIME THEY GAVE US OUR DUE.
WE’LL EARN IT TOO
WHEN WE BREAK THROUGH

BERT & GEORGE:
THE DOOR SWUNG OPEN JUST A CRACK.
WE’RE HERE BEFORE THEY TAKE IT BACK!

BERT:
THEY HAVEN’T EVEN FELT IT,
BUT SOMETHING’S BLOWIN’ IN.

BERT & GEORGE:
IT’S VAUDEVILLE’S NEW BEGINNING
JUST WAITING TO BEGIN.

BERT:
SAY GOODBYE TO NIGHTS WITHOUT HEAT

GEORGE:
MEALS WITHOUT MEAT

BERT:
WHEN YOU CAN EAT!

GEORGE:
NOW’S OUR CHANCE TO FLY OR TO FLOP

BERT:
BUT WE WON’T STOP
TILL WE’RE ON TOP!

GEORGE: TILL WE’RE ON TOP!

BERT & GEORGE:
TILL WE’RE ON…

06 We’re Gonna Fly

GEORGE:
IS THIS WHAT THE BABY BIRD SEES

WHEN IT PEEKS OVER THE NEST?
WILL IT RETREAT TO WARMTH
PRESSED AGAINST ITS MOTHER’S BREAST?

BERT:
OR MIGHT IT DARE TO TAKE THE PLUNGE

AND HOPE TO TOUCH THE SKY?
TO SEE A STRANGE AND WONDROUS WORLD,
IF IT ONLY DARES TO TRY?

BERT & GEORGE:
AND NOW, MY FRIEND, IT’S TIME FOR US

TO JUMP AND HOPE THAT

WE’RE GONNA FLY HIGHER! WE’LL GIVE IT OUR BEST TRY!
AND WE’RE GONNA FLY HIGHER! WE’RE GONNA FLY!
WE’RE GONNA TAKE THAT FATEFUL LEAP
AND TRY TO GRASP THE SKY.
WE’RE GONNA FLY HIGHER.
WE’RE GONNA FLY!

GEORGE:
THEY NEVER THOUGHT WE HAD A CHANCE.

THEY NEVER GAVE US ONE.
THEY SAID THAT WE WOULD COME IN LAST
BEFORE OUR RACE WAS EVEN RUN.

BERT:
WE TOOK OUR SPOT WITHIN THE RACE

AND WITH ONE CHANCE TO SHINE,
WE MADE THEM WATCH FROM FAR BEHIND
AS WE CROSSED THE FINISH LINE.

GEORGE:
AND ONCE AGAIN

BERT:
MY FRIEND

BERT & GEORGE:
WE HAVE TO TRY.

AND THIS TIME, MY FRIEND,

WE’RE GONNA FLY HIGHER! WE’LL GIVE IT OUR BEST TRY,
AND WE’RE GONNA FLY HIGHER! WE’RE GONNA FLY!
WE’RE GONNA TAKE THAT FATEFUL LEAP
AND TRY TO GRASP THE SKY.
WE’RE GONNA FLY HIGHER.
WE’RE GONNA FLY!

BERT & GEORGE:
AND IF WE TAKE THAT FATEFUL STEP

AND FIND OUR WINGS TOO SMALL,
WE’LL STILL TAKE IN A STUNNING VIEW,
EVEN AS WE FALL.

GEORGE:
WE FALL

BERT & GEORGE:
BUT SIDE BY SIDE, I’LL TAKE THOSE ODDS
TO TAKE OUR PLACE AMONGST THE GODS!

WE’RE GONNA FLY HIGHER! WE’RE GONNA TOUCH THE SKY!
WE’RE GONNA FLY HIGHER! WE’RE GONNA FLY!
WE’RE GONNA TAKE THAT FATEFUL LEAP.
WE’RE GONNA REACH THE SKY.
WE’RE GONNA FLY HIGHER.

BERT:
WE’RE GONNA FLY!

GEORGE (overlapping):
WE’RE GONNA TOUCH THE SKY!

BERT & GEORGE:
WE’RE GONNA FLY!

BERT:
WE’RE GONNA FLY!

GEORGE (overlapping):
WE’RE GONNA TAKE THAT FATEFUL LEAP!

BERT & GEORGE:
WE’RE GONNA,
WE’RE GONNA,
WE’RE GONNA,
WE’RE GONNA FLY HIGHER!

BERT (overlapping):
WE’RE GONNA FLY HIGHER.

WE’RE GONNA TOUCH THE SKY!
WE’RE GONNA FLY HIGHER.
WE’RE GONNA FLY!

GEORGE (overlapping):
WE’RE GONNA TOUCH,

WE’RE GONNA TOUCH THE SKY! HIGHER!
YOU’LL SEE THAT WE’RE GONNA FLY!
BECAUSE

BERT AND GEORGE:
WE KNOW THE ODDS WE MUST DEFY.

THIS TIME, IT’S FLY OR DIE,
AND WE’RE GONNA FLY HIGHER.
WE’RE GONNA FLY!
WE’RE GONNA FLY!

07 Couldn’t He See?

CHARLIE:
POP NEVER WONDERED HOW I FELT
PLAYING WITH THE CARDS HE DEALT.
I DREAMED OF MORE, I GOT THE BELT!
AND POP HE SAID, DON’T PULL THAT THREAD.

YOUR PATH IS SET; YOU’LL STAY ON TRACK.
A DREAM’S A DOOR YOU SHOULDN’T CRACK.
YOU WALK THROUGH THERE, YOU DON’T COME BACK!
WE’LL LOCK IT SHUT! I HEARD HIM, BUT—

COULDN’T HE SEE THE LIGHTS?
ALL OF THOSE LIGHTS THAT LIT MY WAY,
HOLDING ME CLOSE WITHIN THEIR SWAY,
LEADING TO BROADWAY?

COULDN’T HE HEAR THE CROWDS?
COULDN’T HE HEAR THEM CALL MY NAME?
OFFERING MORE THAN MEASLY FAME,
OFFERING BROADWAY!

POP SAID, “SON, STICK TO THE SHOP.
DREAMS ARE THINGS THAT ADULTS DROP.
A DREAM’S A THING YOU DRINK TO STOP!”
WELL, SORRY, POP! STAR OR FLOP—

I HAD TO SEE THE LIGHTS.
I SAW MY MOMENT RIPE TO SEIZE,
SEEING MY NAME ACROSS MARQUEES
THROUGHOUT BROADWAY!

I HAD TO BEAT THE ODDS.
I HAD TO LEARN TO TREAD THE BOARDS.
I HAD TO LEARN TO CUT THE CORDS,
TO LEAVE MY FAM’LY AND GALLOP TOWARDS
COHAN, ZIEGFELD, AND OTHER LORDS
OVER BROADWAY!

POP NEVER SPOKE ANOTHER WORD,
AT LEAST NOT ONE I EVER HEARD.
AND STILL, I TRY, THOUGH IT’S ABSURD,
WITH EV’RY CROWD, TO MAKE HIM PROUD.

BUT HE NEVER SAW THE LIGHTS.
HE WAS ALIVE, BUT DEAD, FOR YEARS.
HE THOUGHT HE THRIVED; HE BLED FOR YEARS.
HE SOLDIERED ON, WHILE I GOT CHEERS.
HE LIVED AFRAID; I FACED MY FEARS,
AND FOUND BROADWAY!

08 Cakewalk

Instrumental

09 Every Pullman Porter

BERT:
AGING BOOKS, LIKE FINE WINE,
BECKON YOU, SO PULL THE TWINE.
FREE THE BOOK AND HOLD IT BY THE SPINE

LET IT BEND AND UNFOLD.
SMELL THE MILDEW, TASTE THE MOLD.
HOLD THE STORY THEY HAVE NEVER TOLD.

WHEN THEY DARED TO BIND US,
WHEN THE SEAS, WE CROSSED,
WHEN OUR FAM’LY’S STORIES
TO THE WAVES WERE TOSSED,

THOUGH WE KEPT ON LIVING, WE STILL PAID THE COST, WITH THE HIST’RY THAT WE ALL BUT LOST.
PAGE BY PAGE, TAKE IT IN.
FEEL THE PRINT BENEATH YOUR SKIN.
OPEN IT AND LET THE TALE BEGIN.

TRIBE BY TRIBE, LAND BY LAND,
FEEL THE WIND UPON YOUR HAND.
CURL YOUR TOES AND YOU MIGHT FEEL THE SAND.

THOUGH SIX HUNDRED PAGES MAY BE JUST A START,
IT’S A MAP UNFINISHED THAT WE STILL CAN CHART.
IT’S A TUNE UNWRITTEN WE MIGHT KNOW BY HEART,
EVEN IF IT’S ONLY JUST IN PART.

WHEN THE WORLD DERIDES US, TO THIS TRUTH I CLING:
THAT EVERY PULLMAN PORTER IS DESCENDED FROM A KING!

WHEN THEY DARED TO BIND US,
WHEN THE SEAS, WE CROSSED,
WHEN OUR FAM’LY’S STORIES
TO THE WAVES WERE TOSSED,
THEN OUR FRIENDS AND FAMILIES WERE THE PRICE IT COST
IN THE WAR OUR FATHERS NEARLY LOST.

BUT THE STORY NOW IS, FOR THE TIME, WE’RE FREE,
FREE TO GLIMPSE A FUTURE THAT OUR KIDS MIGHT SEE,
AND WE PRAY IT COMES,
AND MAKE THIS SILENT PLEA,
KNOWING JUST HOW FRAGILE COLORED LIVES CAN BE.

10 Williams & Walker Montage

GEORGE (“Cocoa Clyde”):
MOST COLORED FOLKS

ARE SIMPLE FOLKS,
AND SIMPLE TO DECEIVE.

YOU TELL A TALE,
AND WITHOUT FAIL,
YOU GETS ‘EM TO BELIEVE.

NOW I AIN’T ONE
TO BOAST FOR FUN,
BUT I SURE CAN TELL A LIE.

A TALE SO TALL,
IT FOOLS ‘EM ALL,
AND THAT’S THE REASON WHY
THEY CALL ME “COCOA CLYDE,”
THE CLEVEREST COON IN KENTUCKY.
THE KIND WHO’D CON COUNTLESS COUNTRIFIED COONS,
AND CRUISE ACROSS THE COUNTRY CLEAR TO CROON COON TUNES.

COCOA CLYDE, THE CLEVEREST COON IN KENTUCKY,
‘CAUSE AIN’T NO COON MORE CUNNING THAN ME!
CAN’T BE!

BERT & GEORGE (“Hansen’s Magical Oil”):
THAT’S RIGHT, IT’S
HANSEN’S MAGICAL OIL.
IT WILL PUT YOU RIGHT!
IF YOU NEED A WIN, JUST LIGHTEN YOUR SKIN,
AND FOLKS WILL THINK YOU’RE WHITE!
HANSEN’S MAGICAL OIL.

BERT (“Jonah Man”):
IF I HAD A BOTTLE OF CHAMPAGNE,
I’D PUT OUT MY EYE WITH THE CORK.
IF I WAS STARVED AND IT RAINED SOUP,
I’D ONLY HAVE ME A FORK.

IF I HEADED OUT WITH AN UMBRELLA,
IT WOULD BE SUNNY AND WARM,
BUT PUT ME OUT IN MY DANDIEST SUIT,
IT WOULD SURELY STORM,

‘CAUSE I’M THE
JONAH MAN,
UNLUCKY JONAH MAN.
THEY CALL ME JONAH MAN.
THAT’S ME!
AIN’T NO ONE UNLUCKIER THAN ME!

GEORGE:
(George sings the opening tune, “Cocoa Clyde,” again, but his speech falls apart as he has a stroke onstage.)

11 When You’re Dancing

CHARLIE:
THE NEWSMEN SAY THE WORLD’S AN AWFUL MESS.
THE RICH GET MORE,
WHILE ALL THE POOR GET BY WITH ALL THE LESS.
LET OTHERS FIGHT THE WORTHY CAUSE,
AND WORK TO CHANGE UNWORTHY LAWS!
I CHOOSE TO LIVE WITHOUT THE RAGE AND DREAD,
‘CAUSE I CAN LIVE ANOTHER WAY INSTEAD!

WHY CRY ABOUT THE SADDEST THINGS?
WHY WORRY WHAT TOMORROW BRINGS?
WHEN I CAN FLOAT ON ANGELS’ WINGS,
I’LL BE HAPPY!

WHY WORRY OVER SOLEMN NEWS?
WHY RAISE MY VOICE TO SING THE BLUES,
WHEN I CAN WEAR MY DANCING SHOES
AND BE HAPPY?

NO ONE THINKS OF WORLDLY FAULTS
WHEN THE DANCE IS GRAND.
HOLD YOUR PARTNER, CHOOSE A WALTZ,
AND STAND AND CUE THE BAND!

FORGET ABOUT YOUR MOUNTING DEBT.
FORGET THE THINGS THAT YOU CAN’T GET.
JUST DANCE AND YOU’LL FORGET TO FRET,
AND BE HAPPY!

(Instrumental)

WHEN OTHERS TAKE YOUR JOBS AWAY,
AND CONGRESS WON’T KEEP THEM AT BAY,
JUST KNOW THAT YOU’LL FEEL YOUNG AND GAY
IF YOU’RE DANCING!

YOU MAY GET THROWN OUT IN THE COLD.
THINGS MAY SEEM BLEAK, BUT TRUTH BE TOLD,
THE WORLD’S A WONDER TO BEHOLD
WHEN YOU’RE DANCING!

THE WORLD’S A WONDER TO BEHOLD
WHEN YOU’RE DANCING!

12 I Keep Them Laughing

BERT: 
I KEEP THEM LAUGHING.
THE JESTER’S AT PLAY IN THE COURT.
I KEEP THEM LAUGHING,
THOUGH WINNING THEIR GAME,
I’M STILL COMING UP SHORT.
AND THOUGH ONLY FOOLS WOULD PLAY BY THEIR RULES
AND THINK THEY COULD WIN AT THEIR GAME,
I KEEP THEM LAUGHING ALL THE SAME.

I KEEP BELIEVING
WITH TIME, THAT THEY REALLY COULD CARE.
I KEEP BELIEVING
THEY’LL LOOK AND THEY’LL SEE PAST THIS MASK THAT I WEAR.
A SMILE ON THEIR FACE
COULD LEAD THEM TO GRACE.
I WAIT, BUT THEY NEVER COME THROUGH.
I’LL KEEP BELIEVING TILL THEY DO.

CHARLIE:
COULDN’T HE SEE IT’S WRONG?
COULDN’T HE SEE THIS WAS THE DAY
WE HAD TO SAVE THIS HOLY PLACE,
THIS SACRED SPACE,
THE GREAT WHITE WAY,
THAT HE TURNED BLACK
WHEN HE DARED TO PLAY ON BROADWAY!

BERT (overlapping):
I KEEP ON GOING.
I DON’T REALLY KNOW WHY I DO.

CHARLIE (overlapping):
COULDN’T HE SEE IT’S WRONG?

BERT (overlapping):
BUT I KEEP ON GOING.

I HOPE THINGS HAVE CHANGED,
BUT I KNOW IT’S NOT TRUE.

CHARLIE (overlapping):
HE CANNOT PRETEND

BERT (overlapping):
FOR NOW, WE PRETEND

CHARLIE (overlapping):
THAT THIS IS THE END.

BERT (overlapping):
THAT WE SEE AN END,

CHARLIE (overlapping):
IN TIME, I WILL GET HIM TO SEE THAT IT’S TRUE.

BERT (overlapping):
A LIGHT IN THE STORM BREAKING THROUGH!

BERT & CHARLIE:
I’LL KEEP ON GOING TILL I DO.

BERT:
SOME SAY THE LIGHT IS NEARING.

SOME SAY IT NEVER WILL.
SOME DIE BEFORE THE CLEARING.
I WILL, AND STILL

I’LL KEEP THEM LAUGHING,
AND PLAYING THE ROLE THAT THEY’VE CAST!
I’LL KEEP THEM LAUGHING.
THE PLAY MUST BE PLAYED IF IT’S GOING TO BE PASSED.

THE RUN HAS BEGUN,
AND WHEN IT IS DONE,
THE PLAY CAN BE WRITTEN ANEW!

I’LL KEEP THEM LAUGHING.
I’LL KEEP BELIEVING.
I’LL KEEP ON GOING
TILL WE DO!

13 The Wonder of Beautiful Girls

FOLLIES SINGER:
YOU MAY SEARCH THE LAND
TO UNDERSTAND
THE WONDER THAT IT HOLDS,
BUT NO MATTER WHERE,
THEY CAN’T COMPARE
TO THE WONDER OF BEAUTIFUL GIRLS!

IN OUR HISTORY, EACH MYSTERY
UNRAVELS AND UNFOLDS,
BUT WE TRY IN VAIN
TO JUST EXPLAIN
THE WONDER OF BEAUTIFUL GIRLS!

THERE ARE WISE MEN LEFT IN SILENCE.
THE ARE POETS LOST FOR RHYMES.
THERE ARE KIND MEN LED TO VI’LENCE.
WE CAN SEARCH ALL THE WORLD TILL THE END OF ALL TIMES.

BUT YOU’LL SEARCH FOR NOUGHT
WHEN WHAT YOU’VE SOUGHT
IS THE OLDEST MYSTERY!
FOR WE CAN’T PRETEND
TO COMPREHEND
THE WONDER OF BEAUTIFUL GIRLS!

FOR THE FAIRER SEX
WILL ALWAYS VEX
THE MEN WHO SEEK TO SEE
THE SECRETS ONLY
GOD HAS KNOWN:
THE SECRETS OF BEAUTIFUL GIRLS!

FOR WE TRY IN VAIN
TO JUST EXPLAIN
THE WONDER OF BEAUTIFUL GIRLS!

14 We’re Gonna Fly Reprise

BERT:
AND THEN WE FLEW HIGHER.
WE DARED TO TOUCH THE SKY.
AND WHEN WE FLEW HIGHER,
HE WAS THE REASON WHY.
HE SAW OUR FUTURE CRYSTAL CLEAR;
AND THAT’S HOW WE GOT HERE.
I ALWAYS FLEW HIGHER
WHEN HE WAS NEAR.

CHORUS:
AND WE ALL FLEW HIGHER.

WE DARED TO TOUCH THE SKY.
AND WE ALL FLEW HIGHER,
BECAUSE YOU WERE NEARBY.
YOU SAID YOU SAW WHAT WE COULD DO.
YOU MADE US SEE IT TOO. AND WE’RE GONNA FLY HIGHER WE’LL FLY HIGHER
THINKING OF YOU.

15 You’ll Find Ol’ Dixieland in France

BERT:
DAY WAS WHEN OL’ DIXIELAND
WAS SWARMIN’ WITH THE COONS,
SINGIN’ DIXIE TUNES,
PLAYIN’ BONES AND SPOONS.

THAT WAS WHEN OL’ DIXIELAND
WAS CAREFREE AND WAS GAY.
NOW IT AIN’T THAT WAY,
EVER SINCE THAT DAY.

WHEN WOODROW WILSON CALL UP THE TROOPS,
WE WAS ONE OF THE FIRSTEST GROUPS
TO SAY “DO OR DIE!”
THAT’S THE REASON WHY

YOU’LL FIND OL’ DIXIELAND IN FRANCE.
BY SHIP OR SKY,
WE JUMP AT THE CHANCE,
AND THAT’S WHY
YOU’LL FIND OL’ DIXIELAND IN FRANCE.
YOU’LL FIND OL’ DIXIELAND IN FRANCE.

INSTEAD OF PICKIN’ MELONS OFF THE VINE,
THEY ALL DIGGIN’ TRENCHES AT THE LINE.
YOU’LL FIND OL’ DIXIELAND IN FRANCE

IF YOU VISIT ALABAM’,
THEY ALL SERVIN’ UNCLE SAM. AIN’T NO COON IN SIGHT,
‘CAUSE THEY WENT OUT TO FIGHT!

AND ALEXANDER’S RAGTIME BAND
PLAYS NO MO’ IN DIXIELAND.
BID THEIR MAMMIES GOODBYE,
LEFT TO KILL OFF EACH SPY!

AND THAT’S WHY
YOU’LL FIND OL’ DIXIELAND IN FRANCE.
OVER THERE, OVER THERE.
BY SHIP OR SKY —
ON THE LAND, ON THE SEA, IN THE AIR —
WE JUMP AT THE CHANCE!
AND THAT’S WHY
YOU’LL FIND OL’ DIXIELAND IN FRANCE.
YOU’LL FIND OL’ DIXIELAND IN FRANCE.

INSTEAD OF PICKIN’ MELONS OFF THE VINE,
YOU’LL FIND ‘EM PICKIN’ GERMANS OFF THE RHINE!
YOU’LL FIND OL’ DIXIELAND,
YOU’LL FIND OL’ DIXIELAND,
YOU’LL FIND OL’ DIXIELAND IN FRANCE!

(Note: The title, concept, and the lines “Instead of pickin’ melons off the vine” and “pickin’ Germans off the Rhine” originate from this 1918 song by George W. Meyer and Grant Clarke.)

16 You Want Rags

IDA:
YOU WANT RAGS, AND I GOT ‘EM.

LEAVE IT ALL UP TO ME.
YOU WANT RAGS, AND I GOT ‘EM.
I’VE GOT PLENTY TO SEE.

THIS BROWN AND BLUE STRIPED RAG
WAS PART OF BAPTISTE THILO’S COAT.
HE WORKED AT HAULING FISH,
THREE TIMES A DAY, FRESH OFF THE BOAT.

AN ANGRY MOB APPROACHED,
AND EAGER FOR ANOTHER KILL,
ONE STRUCK HIM WHERE HE STOOD
AND CAUSED ALL OF HIS FISH TO SPILL.

BAPTISTE THOUGHT IT AN ACCIDENT
AND SPUN AROUND ON THE SPOT.
BEFORE HE SAW THAT ANGRY MOB,
HE HEARD A FEARFUL SHOT!

THEY LOOKED UPON THEIR LATEST KILL
AND WATCHED HIM AS HE BLED.
THEY REALIZED HE WAS VERY OLD,
AND SO THEY KINDLY SAID–

“FORGIVE US FOR THE SHOT WE FIRED,
FOR WE AREN’T ALL THAT COLD.
WE MEANT TO SHOOT A NIGGER,
BUT NOT ONE QUITE SO OLD!”

YOU WANT RAGS, AND I GOT ‘EM.
EVERY COLOR AND SIZE.
YOU WANT RAGS, AND I GOT ‘EM.
COME AND PICK OUT YOUR PRIZE.

EACH RAG HAS STORIES YOU HAVE NEVER HEARD
FROM MEN WHO’LL NEVER SPEAK ANOTHER WORD!

THIS RICH AND HANDSOME CLOTH
WAS ONCE A PART OF A PREACHER’S SUIT.
ELIJAH STRICKLAND LIVED AT PEACE
IN GEORGIA, WHERE SOME SAVAGE BRUTE

KILLED GOOD ALFRED CRANFORD
AND THEN ATTACKED HIS WIFE.
A MOB CHARGED AT THIS MAN OF CLOTH
TO DEMAND HIS LIFE!

THEY BEAT HIM AND CUT OFF HIS EARS,
BUT NO MATTER WHAT THEY TRIED,
THE PREACHER SWORE HIS INNOCENCE,
WHILE THEY DECLARED HE LIED!

THEY PUT A NOOSE AROUND HIS NECK
AND HANGED HIM FROM A TREE,
AND PINNED A NOTE UPON HIS CHEST
RIGHT THERE FOR ALL TO SEE.

IT SAID, “WE MUST PROTECT OUR LADIES.
ALL YOU DARKIES BEST BEWARE.
OUR TOWN IS FOR THE RIGHTEOUS.
ENTER IF YOU DARE!”

YOU WANT RAGS, AND I GOT ‘EM.
EVERY COLOR OF THREAD.
YOU WANT RAGS, AND I GOT ‘EM.
SOME WITH SPLASHES OF RED.

EACH RAG HAS STORIES YOU HAVE NEVER HEARD
FROM MEN WHO’LL NEVER SPEAK ANOTHER WORD!

A HUNDRED LYNCHED IN 1908.
87 IN 1909.
74 IN 1910.
71 IN 1911.
64 DEAD IN 1912.
51 KILLED IN 1913.

HOW MANY WHITE MEN LYNCHED THAT YEAR?
ONE!
YOU WANT RAGS, AND I GOT ‘EM.
LEAVE IT ALL UP TO ME.
YOU WANT RAGS, AND I GOT ‘EM.
I’VE GOT PLENTY TO SEE.

EACH TIME YOU PUT THOSE COSTUMES ON
AND LET THEM LAUGH AT YOU,
YOU LET THEM THINK EACH COLORED MAN
IS LESS THAN HUMAN TOO!
SO, YOU WANT RAGS, AND I GOT ‘EM.
LEAVE IT ALL UP TO ME.
YOU WANT RAGS, AND I GOT ‘EM.
HUNDREDS MORE LEFT TO SEE.

51 DEAD IN 1914.
56 LYNCHED IN 1915.
50 IN 1916.
36 IN 1917.
60 IN 1918.
76 IN 1919.
53 IN 1920.
51 KILLED LAST YEAR!

I’VE GOT PLENTY TO SEE.
YOU WANT RAGS, AND I GOT ‘EM.
PICKED FRESH OFF OF THE TREE.
YOU WANT RAGS? YOU WANT ‘EM?
YOU WANT RAGS? I GOT ‘EM.
YOU WANT RAGS? DON’T LIKE ‘EM?
MORE COME IN EV’RY WEEK!

17 This is How It’s Done

BERT:
THIS IS HOW IT’S DONE, RIGHT?
BURN THE CORK, TURN THE ASH IN OIL.
KINKY WIGS AND FUNNY WALKS,
TALK THE WAY DA DARKIES TALKS.
THIS IS HOW IT’S DONE.

THIS WILL MAKE THEM LAUGH, RIGHT?
BLACK IT UP, PUT THE WAR PAINT ON.
TELL THEM JOKES AND TELL THEM LIES,
WHILE ANOTHER BLACK MAN DIES.
THIS WILL MAKE THEM LAUGH.

DID I HELP MY BROTHERS, DID I LIFT OUR RACE?
DID I JUST FEEL FREEST WHEN I HID MY FACE?
DID THE CORKS I BURN ONCE HOLD CHAMPAGNE IN PLACE
THAT THEY DRANK TO TOAST THE MEN THEY CHASE?

THIS IS WHAT COMES NEXT, RIGHT?
WIPE THE PAINT, TILL YOUR HANDS ARE CLEAN.
PUT THE WIG UPON YOUR HEAD.
DON’T THINK OF ALL THE MEN WHO BLED.
THIS IS WHAT COMES NEXT.

WHY MUST EV’RY ACTION, WHY MUST EV’RY TRAIT,
FROM MY RATTY COSTUMES TO MY COMIC GAIT,
WRITE A GRANDER STORY THAT DIRECTS OUR FATE?
AND IS IT NOW JUST TOO DAMN LATE?

THIS IS HOW IT’S DONE, RIGHT?
STEP BY STEP, HELP THE CAUSE ADVANCE?
IF I OPEN WITH A LAUGH, MAYBE IN THE SECOND HALF,
I CAN GET IT DONE,
UNLESS I’M NOT THE ONE.

THIS IS HOW IT’S DONE, RIGHT?
TAKE YOUR PLACE, BURY ALL YOUR FEARS.
CUT THE LIGHTS AND WALK ON STAGE,
MAKE THEM LAUGH AND QUELL THE RAGE.
THIS IS HOW IT’S DONE, RIGHT?
THIS IS HOW IT’S DONE.

18 Jonah Man (Reprise)

BERT:
IF I HAD A BOTTLE OF CHAMPAGNE,

I’D PUT OUT MY EYE WITH THE CORK.
IF I WAS STARVED AND IT RAINED SOUP,
I’D ONLY HAVE ME A FORK.

IF I HEADED OUT WITH AN UMBRELLA,
IT WOULD BE SUNNY AND WARM,
BUT PUT ME OUT IN MY DANDIEST SUIT,
IT WOULD SURELY STORM,

‘CAUSE I’M THE JONAH MAN,
UNLUCKY JONAH MAN.
THEY CALL ME JONAH MAN.
(Bert’s voice fails, and he falls to his knees.)

19 I Keep Them Laughing (Reprise)

(Instrumental)

BERT:
SOME SAY THE LIGHT IS NEARING.

LOTTIE: 
STAY WITH ME, BERT!

BERT:
SOME WEARY FROM THE CLIMB.

LOTTIE:
NO, PLEASE NOT YET.

BERT:
SOME DIE BEFORE THE CLEARNING.

LOTTIE:
IT’S NOT YOUR TIME.

CHORUS:
I KEEP BELIEVING
AND HOPING OUR TIME IS STILL DUE.
I KEEP BELIEVING.
SOME SAY WE’VE ARRIVED, BUT WE KNOW IT’S NOT TRUE.

AND WE HOPE THAT WE
MAY STILL LIVE TO SEE
A LIGHT IN THE STORM BREAKING THROUGH.

WE’LL KEEP ON HOPING. WE’LL KEEP ON FIGHTING. WE’LL KEEP BELIEVING
TILL WE DO!

All lyrics above are ©2019-2022 Aaron Alon (ASCAP). All Rights Reserved.