From the Author:
When I was 18, I bought my first bootleg album. It was a Tom Waits CD (which I have since lost, but if I ever meet Tom Waits, I promise to give him twenty dollars—you have it in writing), and he performed a Utah Phillips tune, “The Goodnight-Loving Trail.” The Goodnight-Loving Trail was a cattle trail which got its name from Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving. Goodnight and Loving were fictionalized in an outstanding book, Lonesome Dove, which was made into an equally outstanding mini-series, and which resulted in a few sequels. For me, the trail is a metaphor; I think of walking along a trail, knowing what your destination is, and hoping this is the right path to get you there. There are trials and tribulations along the way, and whatever doesn’t kill you, just makes you sing louder.
I wrote the play Goodnight Lovin’ Trail while a student at the Actors Studio Drama School at The New School. As an exercise, my teacher Jim Ryan had us look at photographs of people and create a back-story for them. I ended up looking at a picture of a guy who was seriously down-and-out. He reminded me of the Ry Cooder medley of “Fool for a Cigarette/Feeling Good.” Here was a guy who needed a cigarette, who spent his life with his chin out (life apparently took great sport in pounding that chin into leather), and who had seen his share of barroom floors. The next part of the exercise was teaming that character up with an object; I looked in an antique catalogue and found an early National O. As you can tell, I’m a sucker for music. Man met guitar, and that was that. I tried to imagine what would happen to this man if he met Sarah Vaughan (or someone who wished she were the great Sassy), and the result is the play you are about to read.