Plume and Penguin Random House Audio release the book and audiobook Working On a Song: The Lyrics of Hadestown, by Anaïs Mitchell, October 6. On the latter, Mitchell herself revisits her writing for the Tony-winning musical, exploring its journey through the show’s several incarnations.
Take a listen to the exclusive excerpt above as the composer details the process of shaping the song “Way Down Hadestown.”
Mitchell walks through crafting the melody and energy of the song during a frustrating period in her early 20s, its evolution into the piece in Vermont, how it grew Off-Broadway and in Edmonton (including the boosting of Persephone), changes in London (including removing Orpheus from the number), and finally, on Broadway.
"It was really fascinating to read the book out loud after living with it in my mind and on the page for so long," the artist says, noting that her makeshift apartment recording studio during the pandemic consisted of kids' mattresses and an umbrella. "One thing I was able to do with the audiobook that I obviously couldn’t do on the written page is: I was able to sing the melodies of some of the lyrics."
Mitchell won a Tony last year for her score of the musical, which marked her Broadway debut. She was also nominated for the show's book.
In addition to a complete set of lyrics with notes and first drafts, Working On a Song includes insights into the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, the journey to making the lead characters believable, the ins-and-outs of opening a show on Broadway, Mitchell’s writing room and team, and more.
To pre-order and for more information, visit PenguinRandomHouseAudio.com.