John Mellencamp has virtually completed recording and “assembling” the “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County” musical theater collaboration with Stephen King.
John and King have edited the initial three-hour program down to two hours and 10 minutes—with a bit more editing still to come before producer T-Bone Burnett completes the tracks. When finished, the recording will be available in a novel book package containing the full text, two discs featuring the entire production of the spoken word script and songs performed by the cast, and a third CD of the songs only.
The story involves domestic turmoil, and is played by a stellar cast led by Kris Kristofferson, in the role of Joe, the father, and Elvis Costello, as the satanic character The Shape. Rosanne Cash plays Monique, the mother, with the sons enacted by Will Daily (Frank), Dave Alvin (Jack), Alvin’s real-life brother Phil Alvin (Andy) and John (Drake).
Sheryl Crow stars as Jenna and Neko Case is Anna, with boxing legend Joe Frazier playing caretaker Dan Coker and Stephen King himself in the role of Uncle Steve. The narrator is “24” star Glenn Morshower.
John stressed that the three-disc package is not a traditional audio book, but offers an experience more akin to listening to an old radio show with music; he further emphasized the challenge inherent in making such a project work.
And this was added (together with the text abow) on John's official site.
“It’s hard enough to make a play with music work—even when you can see the actors singing,” he said. “But here we have something that’s become way out of fashion: An audio program that allows the listener the opportunity to use his or her imagination! We live in the video world now, where everything is spoonfed for us and shown to us—so that it’s become quite an effort to fully involve the listener. So we’ve tried to make the listeners part of the process: Their imagination comes into play in the same way they read a book—or the way they listened to records before music videos came along. That’s what makes this so different—holding the listener’s attention while the songs are being sung, while engaging them with the story and dialog. It’s very complicated.”
John characterized the music as “down-home,” with the earthiness and feeling of the acoustic folk-country blues of the 1930s. He hopes to have the book/CD set out before the musical opens next September at Atlanta’s Alliance Theater.