See Right Through Me is a song for a vocalist accompanying themself on cuatro. Originally written for The Vicksburg Project, an evening-length show about the experiences of women and gender-expansive people in Vicksburg, Mississippi, it is the imagined confession of Albert Cashier, an illiterate Irish orphan who enlisted in the Army soon after emigrating to the United States alone.
Albert served the Union for four years, then returned to Illinois to work as a handyman and gardener. Late in life, he was hit by a car and taken to the hospital, where the doctors determined that Albert must have been assigned female at birth. So they dressed him in women’s clothes, and put him in an insane asylum, where he died from a fall he sustained tripping over his unaccustomed skirts.
The song incorporates allusions to Walt Whitman’s early poems about the war, a quotation from a Sean nós song called “Táim curtha ó bheith im’aonair im’lui (I’m weary of lying alone)” and from a then popular poem about dead comrades called “Oft in the Stilly Night.”
See Right Through Me is 9 November in my ongoing project A Book of Days, and you can hear my own recording of the piece there.
TO THE PERFORMER
The song is written for a transgender, genderqueer and/or gender-expansive person who inhabits the masculine. You should transpose the piece so that the first section sits as low as possible in your tessitura, and the last section needs to feel vulnerably high. Easy for an untrained voice, harder for a professionally trained singer. The middle section should be sung without particular regard to the accompaniment: you keep playing the A section chords, but you sing the battle section in a marching 12/8. Please make sure you re-align with the accompaniment correctly before starting the final section “Everyone knows.”
If you can’t get hold of a cuatro, you can adapt the piece for ukulele or acoustic guitar.
For a performing score (along with the optional warped recording of a hermit thrush you can trigger as a momentary underscore), please click the buy button below. The suggested price is $30, but you can choose your own price based on your situation, with my thanks for supporting this low-key way of publishing:
- Instrumentation: cuatro ukulele guitar voice (singer)
- Ensemble Size:
- Duration: <5 minutes
- Electronics: Fixed Audio No Electronics
- Video: No
- Project(s): A Book of Days The Vicksburg Project
- Year: 2018