Pretty Boy

Dramatic Song Cycle for Tenor & Ensemble (2012)
Libretto by David James Brock, additional text by William Taylor
Tenor, Cl, Vln, Guitars/Electric Bass, Pno/Keyboard, Electronic Percussion & Drums, Marimba
Duration: 26″
Score :: Lyrics
Commissioned by The Paul Dresher Ensemble & The San Francisco Foundation
Premiere date: December 14, 2012, Z-space San Francisco
The Paul Dresher Ensemble with James Benjamin Rodgers

This monodrama on American anti-hero Charles Arthur Floyd (Pretty Boy Floyd) presents an alternate view focusing on the pathos of Floyd’s isolation, rather than his popular image as a daring bank robber. 

Typically, Charles Arthur Floyd is described as a handsome, ruthless bank robber. Many claimed he was a depression-era Robin Hood. This is debatable, but it’s true he gave away large portions of his “earnings” to friends, family and even acquaintances – those who sheltered him, poor Oklahoma farmers and others like him, struggling to get along during hard times. Pretty Boy was, by birth, a farmer, at a time when the land wasn’t providing sustenance. He was a dreamer and a self-starter. And if we grant that his chosen “field” was bank-robbery, then, within his field he was an exemplary American – innovative, talented, a risk-taker with vision. Of course the banks were not looked on kindly by the majority of Americans, especially in poor rural Oklahoma, and thus Floyd’s folk-hero status increased with each daring, seemingly impossible robbery and near capture followed by incredible escape. And as his infamy grew, his freedom shrank, at the hands of the young J. Edgar Hoover.