Say It Ain't So, Joe is a dark and humorous interpretation of the cult of personality surrounding Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential campaign, contrasting the public persona with the private individual. The composer culled musical material from the actual public record manipulating extended sections of the candidates’ literal pitch and rhythm into the score. The work received an enthusiastic response from local and national media outlets including Fox News, MSNBC, NPR Morning Edition, Boston’s major newspapers, mentions in newspapers nation-wide, and in a prominent Greek newspaper, "To Vima," requiring additional performances to be added.
Inspired by text drawn from public record, composer Curtis K. Hughes recounts his experience watching the 2008 Vice Presidential Debate. “When watching the US Vice Presidential debate in 2008, I was struck by the extraordinary musical contrasts between the voices of Sarah Palin and Joe Biden, as well as the convergence of two such fascinating life stories, both containing tragic, heroic, and comic elements. The audience for my opera Say it ain't so, Joe will experience a surreal and fractured vision of that remarkable encounter, as well as brief glimpses of other contemporaneous events and political figures, with some fantastical digressions."