Music & Lyrics by William Finn
Book by William Finn & James Lapine
Basis on Autobiographical, William Finn
Gordon Schwinn, a talented young songwriter, works at his piano to meet a deadline. Gordon is irritated because he must write a song about Spring for a children's television entertainer who dresses as a frog. He takes a break from his writing and meets his agent Rhoda at a restaurant for pasta. During lunch, Gordon clutches his head and falls face first into his meal. Rhoda calls an ambulance, and Gordon is taken to the hospital. He learns that he has an arteriovenous malformation. Gordon needs an operation, and if he doesn't have it, he could die or never regain the use of his faculties.
While in the hospital, Gordon contemplates his situation. His greatest fear is dying with his greatest songs still inside of him; and so from his hospital bed, and while in a coma, and all throughout his ordeal, he begins writing the songs. He also has several hallucinations that involve various people whom he has encountered. In particular, a homeless lady that he met on his way to get pasta with Rhoda continually pops up.
Gordon eventually has the surgery and recovers completely. The creative block he was experiencing before his ordeal lifts, and he gains new insights. His near death experience encourages him to re-evaluate and better appreciate the people and relationships in his life.
1998 Off-Broadway musical by William Finn
A New Brain the Musical Songs with Lyrics