"Come On Up To My Office" was written by Jason Robert Brown for his Broadway musical Parade
, which is based on the trial of Leo Frank for the murder of thirteen year old Mary Phagan, his conviction and subsequent lynching. The man behind the show, Harold Prince, wanted Stephen Sondheim to write the score, but he turned it down. This production takes the widely accepted view that Frank was innocent, a view not shared by either the American legal system or by Fiddlin' John Carson who wrote the first song inspired by the murder - "Little Mary Phagan
". However, this song portrays Frank as a lecher who abused his position to make out with the young factory girls in his charge. The inference though is that this was not the case, and the song is clearly performed in a fantasy sequence.
It remains to be seen if Frank was quite as lecherous as the prosecutor would have had the jury believe, but in a lengthy contemporaneous article in the August 1915 edition of his own Watson's Magazine
, publisher and lawyer Tom Watson points out that no less than 11 white girls testified against Frank, and Frank's lawyers did not cross-examine one of them. Watson's article being contemporaneous is far more accurate than most of the slanted accounts of this controversial case that are bandied about in cyberspace.
Although the musical was highly acclaimed and won several awards, it is the public's vote that really matters, and they voted with their feet. The show closed after 39 previews and 84 regular performances. "Come On Up To My Office" is probably as good as any of the songs in the show, but one can't really blame the composer as some subjects are really not suitable for this sort of adaptation.
Alexander Baron - London, England