Seed City


Music, Lyrics, Narratives by Heather Lockie

Please note: Details and order of events may alter. This is a working synopsis, and my intent in making it available for the application is to give you an more specific idea of the thematic elements, and how the audio and visual narratives overlap, than was possible in the “Project Description.”

Song Performance Order:
1. Blame it on the Rain
2. Seed Clouds
3. When You’re Young
4. The Life of a Seed
5. Pink Goodbye
6. Genius Machine

Visual Storyline Overview:

-In content, should be reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984 meets Communist Berlin meets Miyazaki.
-Colors: drab and muted, watercolor-y, except for certain key characters (i.e. children, bean plant, birds, glowing seeds), which are vibrant.
-The Seed Factory: sci-fi drudgery, but still visually striking and incredible in its fantasy.
-The chem-trail pilot’s house outside of the force-field should have a different color palette than the tenement buildings inside the force-field.
-The apartment in the tenement building should be drab and shaded color values.

Animation Storyline Synopsis and Song Lyrics:

1) “Blame it on the Rain”: An inner-city boy grows a pot of illegal bean plants but neglects it. With a little help, the vines grow anyway, and eventually the family eats the fresh beans.

Animation Story Details:
An 8-year-old boy lives in a futuristic version of a tenement building in a large, grey city. (Maybe the city is in a climate-controlled glass dome, or force field or something.) Some visible buildings are the same corn-pod shaped structures as we see in “Genius Machine”. He is Latino or African-American and is bright and innocent. There is no natural light in his well-kept apartment except for one square of sunlight, which moves by the fire escape window for a period of time in the mornings. Both parents live at home, but the dad works long hours at the futuristic corn-pod-shaped factory/silo area (which is the main site of the story for “Genius Machine”), and he only sees his son at bedtime or after he’s already asleep. The mom has a part-time industrial job.

He has a school project: grow a bean plant. It grows well in his brightly-lit classroom, and the teacher is proud of how he cares for it. He gets to bring it home at the end of the science unit. At first it’s fine, and he loves the plant at his house. It seems to brighten up his room, and he keeps it next to his small desk where he does his homework. (Could be a box or a wood crate in a corner of the living room. Family doesn’t have a lot of money.) He even sleeps with the little bean plant.

He tries to put it where he thinks the sun will hit it when he is at school, but he can’t get the placement right. The plant starts to die. The boy is depressed, and tries different tactics to revive it. He ends up overwatering it, and it looks a little drowned and under the weather. He doesn’t know what to do but becomes busy with school. Forgets about the plant.

One day someone (mom, feet vacuuming?) notices the sad plant in the shadows by the fire escape window. It is alive, but not doing well. The person vacuuming takes the plant, snips the dead leaves off, drains off the excess water in the pot, puts a stick in it for the bean plant to twine around, and sets it in the newly-vacuumed square of sunlight. This happens multiple times. Plant gets better, and sprouts new leaves, and a couple blossoms.

Intermittent shots of dad coming home late at night, lunchbox in hand, after son is asleep in bed. Each night he puts his hand on the sleeping boy’s head. One night he sees a crayon drawing of the bean plant on the boy’s side desk, and a small medal that he won at school for “horticulture”. The dad shows the medal to the mom who is in her bed-gown, with fluffy sheep slippers on. Maybe her face is covered in night-cream, a la Lucille Ball. She shows him the plant, now with little beans growing on it. It has blossomed and grown since she’s been putting it in the sun in the mornings.

End scene: Thunderstorm outside, all three family members are making dinner. Boy happily picks some beans off the fluffy plant by the window, washes/chops them with the help of his mom, and adds them to the salad that his dad has just put on the table, along with a corn-pod shaped dish. They sit down to eat, and dad puts hand on the boy’s head.

“Blame it on the Rain” Lyrics:
Hello hello hello hello young growing thing
What did you do to the crack in the rock?
Once so small, now so tall, I hardly know ya.

And I did and I did and I did forget myself
There’s no one else to tend to you
But here you are, a fiery star, and almost blooming.
And you say, “Blame it on the rain” (4x)

And the light and the light and the light and the power to
Promote your growth, invest in you
Takes a heart, it takes art, and it takes time,
But mostly, mostly it takes sun (4x)(spoken)

Do you know little sproutlings that need help? Underwatered? Overfed?
Well…maybe you can help! Take up that watering can!
Get your parents to drive you to the garden store and pick up some organic soil to sprinkle
around the base of that sad little plant.
Better yet, start a compost pile and grow your own soil.
It’s easy, and your plants will love it.
Don’t just stand there, do something!
And don’t forget, if you have a few failures, don’t give up.
There are plenty of seeds out there just waiting for you to sprout them.
And someday, you’ll sing,

(sung, a tempo)
“Hello hello hello hello young growing thing
What did you do to the crack in the rock?
Once so small, now so tall, I hardly know ya.
And I did and I did and I did recognize you when
You were a seed; you grew for me.
Your nutrients will help me too, and my family.

“And we sing, “Blame it on the rain”
(Overlaid vocals: “Water when seed is sprouting.
Water first and feed with sun and soil.”)

2) “Seed Clouds”: A love song for a chem-trail pilot. Pilot takes his lover’s tears and concocts his potion that he sprays into the clouds to make rain.

Animation Story Details:
Man and woman live in old farmhouse (reminscent of a past world) together outside of Seed City, in a field blocked off to the people of the city (reminiscent of E/W Berlin). Their land is very hot, sunny ; but unlike the climate-controlled city interior there is space and air. The city is dark, albeit cool. Barbed wire fence and threatening guards at the gate.

Woman cries. Puts tears into a vial. Many vials line the wall of a child’s room in her house. Why does she cry? We don’t know. The man is going on a dangerous mission? Is she worried about him? or will he be gone a long time? Or, maybe something (someone) has been taken from her? (A child? their child?) (Who is this child? is he/she in another song? does this child know the boy in “Blame it on the Rain”?) Maybe the child got sick because he/she ate a glowing seed. Did the child die? If so, this is a spirit child.

Man takes her vial of tears, and disappears into his mad-scientist workshop out back. There, he makes a magical potion that he takes with him in his crop-duster, that he uses to spray over the atmosphere to help clouds make rain. Does he do this for good? or is it for bad, and someone’s making him do it? (the gov’t, a corporation) If he doesn’t do it, maybe the child will come to harm?

Even though they can’t go into the city, the pilot has to fly over to the city’s air space and it is dangerous. Why has Seed City been blocked off by the force field? Why do the guards guard the gate? Why does the pilot have to spray the city? Is the man a farmer? Does he not have enough money to buy the next round of seeds to plant? Is the piloting supplemental income? Or, is he just a government worker doing his job? The audience should be led to question these things by the animation.

“Seed Clouds” Lyrics:

Well, I parked at the end of the runway and watched you board the flight.
You, who flew above the rain, and sailed into the night, oh.

Somewhere in the air you watched the moon turn red.
You, who flew above the rain, you saw the moon turn red, oh.

Do you know the start? Do you remember the end?
The moment I looked into your eyes I knew you were a long-ago lover
or maybe best friend; maybe a brother or maybe a friend.

The windows grew opaque, the runway straight and dark.
The rain: a cloud within, making the outside blurry and sweet.
I could seed clouds (4x)

3) “When You’re Young”: A young scientist works in the seed factory, generating nano-bots that take apart and put together again the genetic structure of seeds. After work, she goes to meet a special person.

Animation Story Details:
A 17-year-old girl works in the seed factory, generating nano-bots that take apart and put together again the genetic structure of seeds. DNA strands are everywhere. After work, she has a special place where she goes to meet a special person. Inside the factory the architecture has hints of double helixes. The architecture of transportation is a double helix, pneumatic/centrifugal force people pods.

She steps outside into the climate-controlled “outdoors,” and sees a chem-trail overhead outside of the force-field. She smiles.
Maybe she is the sister of the dead child, and she goes to meet the spirit of her sister. And then she goes to meet her love. Or vice versa?

“When you’re Young” Lyrics:
When you’re young but there’s no more growing left to do
Get in your car and drive along the way and do what grown-ups do.
And when you see a sign, it means you’ve forgotten how to read.
It means to stop and step into the heat.

In the dark we drink some lemonade and coffee
And watch the weeds as they weave around our feet.
They shine with soft starlight; they make me crazy with patterns
I never knew, I never knew.

The lines are soft; they are parallel.
And it is good; the lines connect the people in every other town
To my home, to my home.

We ride all night. We speak hardly anything at all.
I love you so. I may never speak to you again.
In the dark we drink lemonade and coffee
And feel the spark, the endless motion of this journey.
We cry all night for what can never ever be again
‘Til dusty light confirms the truth of our position.

4) “The Life of a Seed”: We follow the life of a glowing seed, from plant to bird tummy to the growth of a new sprout and subsequent fruit.

Animation Story Details:
This seed should be visually reminiscent of the seeds that are the end result of the young scientist’s nano-experiments from “When You’re Young.” The bird lives in the eaves of the house of the wife of the chem-pilot, outside the force-field of the inner Seed City, but can fly into Seed City through the pneumatic people-mover tubes. The bird visits the boy’s bean plants from “Blame it on the Rain,” and the factory where the boy’s father works, and many other places. In the end the seed is deposited outside of the house where its nest is. It gets buried in the dirt outside of the chem-pilot’s house, and we see it begin to germinate into a glowing plant.

In addition to the bird theme, this segment is where we come to know that the three children in the overarching story know each other. They have made themselves a child-sized pheumatic tube, sealed at both ends, where they can slip from one world to another. The boy from the tenement apartment, the little sister of the nano-scientist, and the spirit of the child of the chem-trial pilot and his wife all convene there to play. They play in the field outside of the force field, and when they get too hot, they dip back inside of Seed City to cool off. Then they play more in the field.

This song may be an instrumental.

5) “Pink Goodbye”: Where do our loved ones go when the door closes behind them? How do we know what they are really doing and thinking?

Animation Story Details:
The young scientist from “Blame it on the Rain” has a young sister. Every morning, pre-dawn, she cooks breakfast for her little sister, wakes her, and as they eat they watch the sun rise on the fire escape. What is the little sister’s day like? What the scientist imagines is quite different than actuality: her little sister is friends with the neighbor boy, who happens to be the main character from “Blame it on the Rain.” Together the two children have been experimenting with planting the illegal, non-altered bean seeds.

“Pink Goodbye” Lyrics:
In the dead of night we could see the light begin to sigh in the sky beyond the trees.
With the pink goodbye, the love that would not cease to give the fruits of our labors to our hearts
is good to see, that beyond language is a thing, is a thing is a real thing.

and I say, “Honey, honey, honey. Honey, honey, honey you and me are like
honey, honey, honey. Honey, honey, honey you and me are like honey,
honey, honey.”

Right about now you will be walking down the flat path
right about now you will be talking to the uniformed man at the kiosk at the gate and

Right about now, it will be daylight in the side street, past the smokestacks the sidewalks and the fruit stands and the tables with the things for sale upon them

Right about now, you will be taking out your papers, and your compass and your ruler and all the things you need to document the data from the glowing screen above you

Right about now, you will be smoking at your break time, and a thought will light upon you and you’ll go inside to make a note nah nah nah etc

Right about now, I wish that I could be there with you
But I’m glad you are gone, leaving me here to stare and wonder
at what happened before dawn, when in the dead of night we could see the light begin to sigh in the sky beyond the trees

with the pink goodbye, the love that would not cease to give
the fruits of our labors.

6) “Genius Machine”: How did we get here?

Animation Story Details:
In the classroom of the children, the teacher who gave them the non-GMO beans is giving a history lesson. She has brought her guitar and it is propped up by her side. They start out with a slide show about how “farming” used to bring society food, how corporations began copyrighting GMO seeds, how farmers were drawn into a destructive loop of buying seeds every year instead of growing their own seed to plant for future crops… and then a great climate catastrophe hit and farming was no longer possible at all. Becomes evident that the seed factory was itself a genius machine because it provided a way to survive the soaring temperatures.

She sings the song “Genius Machine” to the class during the lesson. Kids take up percussion toys and start playing with her. In the slide show behind them, the fact that the seed factory is helping feed many people becomes evident, as does the contrasting bleakness of the genetically-altering seed regime. Also highlighted are the many common people who live underground “outside” who are dependent on the manufactured seeds from Seed City.

Montage of other characters could happen 2/3ds the way through the song, as the round starts.

In the end, there is a potluck a potluck of different dishes the children have made that involves the beans from their plants. The father of the boy from “Blame it on the Rain” delivers the dish that his family made as the lesson ends.

“Genius Machine” Lyrics:
There’s a machine chine chine
That farmers have have have
It cleans the seeds seeds seeds
Before they plant plant plant
And there are men
Who come in black black black
In black of night
To say they can’t.

And this machine chine chine
Is very old old old
Made in eighteen teen teen
Hundred and twelve twelve twelve
It’s full of cogs
And wheels and rotating things
When it was made it was a gene
Genius machine.

And the men men men
The men in black black black
Have confiscated -ated -ated
Their own device vice vice
Now there’re but six
In Illinois nois nois
There used to be
Countless machines.

You see a cor cor cor
Poration made made made
A special seed seed seed
In a science lab lab lab
This special seed
Had special properties
Some say this seed
It was a gene-
Genius machine.

“I am the lonely seed
look at my position now.
Unable to grow,
molding in this silo.”

(Joined by other voices:)
“We are the lonely seeds
impotent next to our brothers.
We don’t care about your food, or laws.
Our power lies in the sun, soil and rain.”

(Seed Trio:)
“I dream of the sun.”
“I, the earth and the worms.”
“I, a droplet of water.”
(Tutti:) “Plant us.”

Meanwhile villages need
In their famine and drought
A release for the hungry
Who’ve long gone without
Their children cry
And many die.
It makes no sense
That they go without.

A hungry mouth does not cry
Past a point; he will lie quiet
We don’t experience this
Much over here.
We have good roads
We have technology (mb other voices: “good teeth and tv!”)
We have so much
That shields us from reality.

Back to the men men men
And that machine chine chine-
It complicated ated ated
This whole damn scene scene scene.
It should be helping, not
Politicizing things
That should just grow,
Like nature’s gene-
Genius machines.

Now the gene gene gene
In the small genius muh-
Chine is valuable to the
Industry won’t let the small
Small farmers clean the small genius machines
With the seed cleaning genius machines
(leads into round:)
vox 1) Now the genius machine
vox 2) Cannot clean the genius machine
vox 3) Now the genius machine
vox 4) Cannot clean the genius machine
Cannot clean the genius machine
Cannot clean the genius
Muh she muh she muh she
Muh she muh she she muh
Muh she muh she muh she
Muh she muh she she muh
Fade out into sibilant “sh” sounds.