How I Am

Song Title : How I Am

Show Name : Little Women

Character Name : Professor Bhaer

Gender : Male

Age : Adult

Vocal Part : Baritone-Bass

Range : A3-F#5

Style : Midtempo (Contemporary)

Mood : Reflective, Wishful, Curious

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Context & Lyrics


Professor Bhaer writes to Jo about his life in New York.

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PROFESSOR BHAER (reads from a letter, spoken):
‘And how are you, sir?’

(Sung)
She asks how I am.
And so: how am I?
My days are the usual days.
I wake up, I go out.
Time goes by.

My days are exactly the days I have lived since arriving here.
In fact, how I am is amazed how this comforts me year by year.
I work and I eat.
Life is muffins and jam.
The house is nice and quiet now.
That is how I am.

Five years in these rooms reading Hegel and Kant.
My mind is devoted to thoughts of the meaning of life.
What more could I want?
So why is it lately I find I’m uneasy all through the night?
And why even now does my skin feel explosive as dynamite?
Why does my heart pound like a battering ram?
How can she ask me how I am?
How I am is fine!

(Begins to write a letter back)
‘Dear Miss March, there is nothing dramatic or new to report.
This will be short.
Morning and evening I live in my usual way.
On the day you return you will see for yourself!
Tell me, Miss March, are you happy so far
From the clang and the beat of our turbulent street?
Quite often I think of our days in New York.
Though of course since you went I have quite content.’

(Rips the letter up)
ACH!
I wake up in the morning and all that I hear is the absence of sound.
YES!
My peace is disturbed but the ruckus is me as my thought run aground.
I wanted a life by myself in these rooms.
But now all around me another life looms.
Who asked her to come and go and to leave me like that?
And now she expects me to send her a note?
With words, if I spoke, that would stick in my throat!
Who asked her to change how I live, how I think, how I am?

She asks how I am.
How can I reply?
I go through my daily routine.
I give lessons, I wait.
Time goes by.

Yet lately I find there is pleasure in humming a silly tune.
And some days I go to the park and I sit there all afternoon.
Some evenings I swear I can hear a door slam.
The house is far to quiet now.
That is how I am.

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