"Virgil" is one of the only country songs Simon has written (we might also count "Keep the Customer Satisfied"). This style makes sense, given the character of Virgil. He is a white guard at Salvador's prison. he explains-- or rather complains-- that he could not afford to send his four children to college despite 14 years guarding men like Salvador. And here, Salvador gets to go to college! A murderer, who never held a job!
(This is Track 11 on the Songs from The Capeman soundtrack, and there are a few differences between that version and the one in the Lyrics book, but nothing that affects the meaning of the song.)
The warden is just doing what he is told, he reminds Virgil: "We abide by the court's decision." In the last song, it seemed that the warden had argued against Salvador's release; evidently, he lost and is resigned to defeat.
This only angers Virgil more. He states that he has a hunting rifle and adds, "Smells like hunting season's here."
He defends his personal grievance by saying it is not personal but a professional observation that the inmates who are "smart" and "quiet" end up being "troublemakers." He even goes as far as to say that Salvador is capable of fomenting a "riot" like the 1971 one at the Attica Correctional Facility (also referenced in the film Dog Day Afternoon).
Lastly, Virgil returns to his assertion that, regardless of what the justice system sees fit, he is willing to administer his own justice: "The ain't no way that... smart-ass... gets his degree/ and hides behind the Constitution/ Not while I'm at this institution."
We shall hear more from Virgil later.
(Evidently, Simon wrote a song called "Upstate" for use in the musical, but it did not make the cut. An online search for the word "upstate" in a Simon lyric finds it only in this song, so if "Upstate" does exist, it is not readily available. Anyone who knows the lyrics to "Upstate," please inform me, and I will prepare a post for that song. Thank you.)
While he was not part of the songwriting process, it is interesting to note the choreographer on the project, and eventually the director, was Mark Morris, who is known for his ballet work. His story and list of accomplishments are too long for this space, but interested parties can find that information easily.
Suffice it to say that he is of equal caliber in his field as Walcott, Blades, and the rest of the Capeman talent are in theirs.
Simon only works with the best, and if one wants an excellent musical (and general artistic) education, one need only find and enjoy the works of Simon's collaborators.
Next songs: Wahzinak's Duet/ My Only Defense (Killer Wants to Go to College II).