Two brothers get into a fight over a girl. One brother accidentally kills the other only to die along with the girl in a car crash a short time later. Justice? Revenge from the grave?
Who knows. But the tragic story lives on – and maybe the doomed brothers do, too.
That was the start of a collaboration on a new supernatural musical that will be unveiled Oct. 10 at the Indiana University Auditorium in Mellencamp's hometown of Bloomington.
“John could make rock ‘n’roll records and I could write books for the rest of our lives,” King has said. “But that’s the safe way to do it, and that’s no way to live if you want to stay creative. We were willing to be educated, and, at our age, that’s an accomplishment.”
Set in the tiny town of Lake Belle Reve, Mississippi, the story centers on two sets of brothers. The first two are the ghostly personalities of Jack and Andy, who lost their lives in an apparent murder/suicide.
The second pair, the still-living Frank and Drake, appear to be heading down the same doomed path as their deceased uncles. Joe, the younger brother of Jack and Andy and father of Frank and Drake, decides it’s time to reveal the terrible truth at the site of the tragedy – before history repeats itself.
The show draws on a wide variety of musical styles, taking its inspiration from the blues ‘n roots genre. Show director Susana Booth calls the musical “a kind of new-age traveling medicine show.”
In an effort to mix things up with the musical format, Booth said in a news release that she wants the emphasis to be on “this fantastic score and our great singers and how the story advances us from song to song. In most musicals., the songs advance the narrative. With Ghost Brothers, the story will advance the songs.”
Produced by T Bone Burnett, an all-star recording of Ghost Brothers of Darkland County was released in June. The collaboration features original music and lyrics plus key dialog excerpts performed by a cast of guest artists, including Elvis Costello, Rosanne Cash, Sheryl Crow, Neko Case, Taj Mahal, Ryan Bingham and Kris Kristofferson, along with actors Matthew McConaughey, Samantha Mathis and Meg Ryan.
Mellencamp himself delivers the closing “Truth” in the recording. The song is said to be a sublime meditation on the moral issues underpinning the action.
“Say hello, hello,” Mellencamp sings, “to a new beginning.”
For more information: Click on www.mellencamp.com