When Ernest Thompson wrote The Father Daughter Dance for the first ever time that he directed his own play, On Golden Pond, he wanted the song to have a ‘Carly Simon sound.’ Whom better to ask, he thought, than the rock goddess herself? Ernest sent the lyric; Carly sent back a litany of reasons why she wouldn’t be able to take the project on – rock goddesses tend to be busy – and then called him one day and sang him the song. Exactly, a few perfectionist’s improvements later, as audiences would hear it when the lights went up On Golden Pond in the summer of 2011.
Carly took a break from writing her memoir to venture up to New Hampshire and record The Father Daughter Dance at Squam Sound, owned and engineered by another music legend, Randy Roos of Orchestra Luna fame. With Ernest’s longtime composing partner Joe Deleault on the keyboard, Carly belted out the song in several extraordinary takes, buttressed by copious cups of tea and a lot of tissues. “Just don’t ask me to do it again, okay?” she said when Ernest went into the booth to give her a hug. “I wouldn’t dream of it,” he said. “But there’s just one little word that sort of got changed.” She did it again, crying all the way.
“It’s an emotional play,” Thompson says of his enduring work, and he wanted his production to enhance the emotional experience for the thousands of people who came to see it in the charming Little Church Theatre, on the shores of New Hampshire’s Squam Lake, where the iconic movie was filmed. The Father Daughter Dance speaks to every father and daughter, to the wistful memories of a simpler time, and to the amaranthine wish to connect once again with those closest and most important to us.
The following summer, Ernest brought his production back, this time to Pitman’s Freight Room in nearby Laconia, NH, another idyllic small town America setting for this most American of plays. When the actor playing Charlie wasn’t available, Ernest took on the role himself and got to see his play from the inside out and to feel what audiences the world over have experienced in their time On Golden Pond. Once again Carly Simon’s legendary voice provided the perfect counterpoint to the play’s powerful sense of longing, of opportunities lost and of a lingering optimism for the future. All to the tune of “The Father Daughter Dance.”
THE FATHER DAUGHTER DANCE*
Lyrics by Ernest Thompson
Music by Joe Deleault and Carly Simon
Vocals by Carly Simon
Piano by Joe Deleault
Bass by Brendan Dowd
Guitar/Synth by Randy Roos
*Licensing rights must be obtained and are available through The Office of Ernest Thompson. Click here.