The One Is A Musical Documentary of the Trump Era

The One is a musical documentary.

I don’t think the Academy would consider this a real category, but, I do believe it describes perfectly the work that I’m presenting today. Even though, the documentation used to create this “documentary”, was guided solely by my personal experiences, I think that it is none the less, still valid guidance.

Reality, I think is made by the sum and differences of all our individual perceptions. This conglomerate of perspectives, conforms the collective consciousness that somehow goes on to form our beliefs and narrates our story. Mine, my perspective, is just another drop in an ocean…but it’s my drop and I wanted, with music, to share it with you.

I came up with the Idea to write this musical by the end of the Covid pandemic. While we were still confined, apparently the Muse wasn’t. Actually she was nowhere to be found.

So, I decided to consciously put my God given talents to work, and while enduring a total lack of inspiration, persisted on the idea of making a musical, even if it meant relaying exclusively on perspiration.

For starters, I created a timeline, connecting all the events that affected me and my family during the chosen timeframe: 2015 to 2021. In there, I could find, heated politics, internal divisions, a virus killing left and right, and a general distrust running wild from all sides. All of this, formed the bases for a dramatic script.

I chose and organized the topics that I wanted to develop from the myriad of events that transpired during Donald J. Trump’s first (!?) term. I covered the story, starting from 2015 wild primaries and all the way up to 2021 and the inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden.

I did also include in the script, the second impeachment of our 45th President. …alas, another failed one. You can hear those songs in the full album. This collection of incidents, accusations, aspirations, spying, death and hate as well as,
some absurd and funny situations, mostly crafted by our Commander in Chief, would form the body of this musical documentary.

The One was finally comprised of 32 songs.

From those, I used 25 for the album and 20 for the video. If I’m ever able to produce the “The One” for Broadway, I’ll write some more on top of the extra material to bring all the infamous details to the stage.

I heard this quote, from author James Allen: “Dreams are the seedings of realities”…so, let’s dream.

For the live musical, I want to have “Movements”, longer sequences of music and dialogue and each one of them, with a specific stage design. I want to have soloists sing for each of the characters and abundant choruses for crowds and each of the political parties. I also want to have choreography, with many talented dancers roaming the stage and live musicians rocking the house.

All of this under unique and dynamic lighting. Lots of lights and shadows. Reds, whites and blues…Dream on!

Well… for the time being, I needed to bring the work down to something a tad more concise. A format that would allow me to easily share it with the world. Due to the nature of the original Idea, visual support was crucial. I wanted people to
understand what I was talking about. Hence, the creation of this hour long musical video, The One, a Musical Documentary.

Instead of the longed “movement” sections of the dreamed live show, I divided the work into chapters…assigning a single song per each one of them.

If I had more than one song per chapter, I’d chose the most representative.

This way, I was able to effectively streamline the story. Then, it came time to find the correlated footage. Sometimes, one news event was covered from many angles and on others, there was only one piece of video shared by all stations.

This search and compile exercise, though, a lengthy and meticulous one, wasn’t really that difficult to do. I did write the songs for those specific situations. And I did have those specific images in mind. It was all just a matter of finding the best clips and editing them rhythmically and in harmony with each other.

I also included subtitles, and embedded them in the video. This proved to be big help when it came to comprehending this tale. With respect to the politics involved in this piece I strongly believe that no one has or owns the whole truth. What some person might consider an abomination, could very well be a path to redemption for the next.

That is what I think makes democracy such an invaluable tool. It enables us to progress with all our differences respectfully under a common framework. The aspirations of equality, respect, acceptance, knowledge… shall be our guide to build a better future for generations to come.

If the majority of us share a common vision, we shall follow it. We support the system and with honesty shall work to convince the electorate, that we possess an even better option comes next election around… we vote.

Now, back to the chapters and my take on this story. As I mentioned before, it was told from my perspective, that’s why I portrayed Bernie Sanders against Donald Trump as the main contenders for the 2016 general election. It was my perception, that at the time, the country wasn’t really looking for a continuation of the Establishment. Everybody was fed up with the status quo and looking forward to change. Like a MAGA politician would say: “time to drain the swamp”…after four years, I don’t think we’ve achieved much on that camp.

It is my opinion, that the removal by the D.N.C. of Mr. Sanders from the presidential ballot, and subsequent subsidization of Hillary Clinton, was a death sentence for the hopes of Liberals and progressives of winning the 2016 ballot.

But well, like they say…”everything happens for a reason and what doesn’t kill you.. makes you stronger”. The people spoke. With Mr. Trump and company in power, you could say, the nation went through a storm… political, social and health wise.

Economic policies applauded by some.

Social mandates criticized by the others. Unbound hatred policing the streets and a raging pandemic killing everybody. By the end of the term, the nation was plagued by denialism, hate and the flourishing of every undemocratic concept under the sun.

Passions usually run very high with respect to politics and religion, but during this period, the mix of both, was explosive. A confusing beginning for a dramatic end. Thing is, that when I wrote this piece of music, I though, that the fight was finally going to be appeased. That this “Musical Documentary” was going to be an old and all but forgotten tale…
Boy I was wrong. As you can see, today 2024 we are back in a very similar, if not even worse situation.

A rematch. Donald Trump vs Joe Biden all over again. Worrisome, is that this time around, the choice, at least from where I’m standing, ain’t that clear. The terrible wars that are raging all over the world. The lack of empathy by the powerful. The senile quality of the candidates. This sickness…this blinding hatred. A paralyzed Congress, unable to find common ground.…I could go on and on…

One day, sadly, we may find ourselves exhausted of all this infinite blaming game and finally lose the system. The governance of a nation can’t be a selfish partisan exercise. The powerful better get its act together before democracy is swallowed by autocracy.

We have kids. They need a clear, sensible and stable path to grow. But, again…like the saying goes…”everything happens for a reason…”

Disclaimer: I did grow up in a dictatorship…and It wasn’t nice. All in all, I just wanted to share my perspective on this story through music and story that all of us wrote together. It is sound. It is words. There’s really no violent judgement of ideas. Just a sonic reflection of a period as I perceived it.

Long live America and the American Dream. Rock On!

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Joaquin Berrios

Joaquin is a Chilean born composer, multi-instrumentalist and music producer currently living in Miami.