1. Jennie. 1989. West 4th Street, New York
2. Vince. 1994. West 4th Street, New York
3. Michael. 2003. Housing Works, 2nd Avenue, New York
4. Beth. 2010. West 17th Street, New York
5. Marcie. 2020. Euclid Avenue, Berkley
The Nothing Lamp_Program Note
The Nothing Lamp was inspired by the 2002 TV and cinematic commercial Spike Jonzes created for IKEA. In that commercial, viewers take pity on a desk lamp that has been discarded on a rainy street – until a man appears and castigates them for forming an attachment with an inanimate object. This came to mind when soprano Jessica Fishenfeld and composer Joseph Rubinstein approached me to write lyrics for a new song cycle. We were about four or five months into pandemic lockdown, New York was practically deserted, and I felt a need to celebrate how human beings can find connection in the city – across time and place – without being physically present.
Performing The Nothing Lamp presents a singular challenge; without a delicate touch, the song cycle could become overtly theatrical. Jessica Fishenfeld’s 2022 premiere recording of this work on Crossover Records achieves a perfect balance between impersonating a role and indicating one.
The Nothing Lamp is dedicated to my dear friend and colleague Michael Slade, who fought cancer for two years and died before a COVID vaccine became available (but did, I’m glad to say, survive to see Joe Biden win the election!). Like the characters in this song cycle, Michael had a knack for finding allies in unlikely places.
– Mark Campbell