"What type of music do you like to sing?" A perfectly friendly and reasonable question, but as I frantically scramble to come up with an answer, my inquirer's attention has glazed over. Now, cross-over artists are popping up everywhere. Ah, A label, finally! hurray? Nay, that somehow doesn't sit quite right either. I feel more like a jay-walker, apt to stray too wide and far to be in compliance with that classification. This CD will have to serve as my answer. Let's stick together, keep moving, and hope the traffic cops don't get us, for the music experts certainly will.
My heartfelt thanks to the folks at Affordable Studio Services who cheerfully, patiently, and skillfully applied lift, loft, and sparkle to my arrangements; to Rob for his unfailing support and critique, sustaining cups of coffee, and graphic design; to my Lark friends who asked me if I had thought of producing an album, thus providing the proverbial kick in the seat of the pants, without which I would probably have kept procrastinating and never brought this project to fruition.
Like most musicians, I have a day job; I work as a free-lance translator, which to some extent explains why I perform in various languages.
01 "My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose" written in Scots in 1794 by Robert Burns, based on traditional sources. For the last ten years of his life, Burns collected old Scottish songs, and he is said to have helped preserve over 300, of which the most famous is "Auld Lang Syne."
02 "Though philomela Lost Her Love," text by anonymous, music by Thomas Morley (1557-1602)
03 "our smelly captain," text and music by Gudrun Brunot. Why would anyone write a song like "The Smelly Captain?" Rob, who is my better half and loves to sing, has a pet peeve: Every time he attends a sing-along, people hardly ever suggest the songs that he knows. If they do, they invariably want to sing it to a different melody than the one he's familiar with, in the mixolydian mode, or in Bulgarian. On one particular morning, Rob was waxing furious, so, to make the point, he assumed the stance of a cheerful sing-along mc and goes: "And now, we shall all sing the chanty with the rousing chorus we all know so well... rinkledee... pinkeldee... toes away... Hagan to me." When Rob subsequently supplied the unforgettable line: "him-him him-him him-him-him, on board the Mary Jane; and when he blew his whistle, lads, the seagulls were in pain," I knew my fate was sealed--this song was literally clamoring to be written! we knew one word would call for a definition, so Rob proudly offers the following: "Hagan--a small bush that grows between your big toe (Hallux first) and Hallux Second if you're not walking fast enough."
04 "the Hump-Backed Fiddler" op. 93 #1 from "Sechs Volkslieder und Romanzen" by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
05 "The Bay of Biscay-Oh," traditional
06 "The call," Words: George Herbert, (1593-1632) The poem was published after the author's death in 1633, and the song with music by Ralph Vaughan Williams was published in 1911.
07 "l'accordéon," with lyrics made famous by Juliette Greco. Serge Gainsbourg, recently brought back into public attention as the main character in the recent movie A Heroic Life, composed the song in 1962. We identify with the cold, hunger, shortage of money experienced by the street musician trying to eek out a living in the narrow streets and alleys of any town in France.
08 poterala. "I have lost my ring and my love. I shall weep night and day," sings the girl in this Ukrainian song I heard performed by an all women's chorus with a focus on Russian music while I still lived in Gothenburg, Sweden.
09 "Fine Knacks for Ladies," text by anonymous, music by John Dowland (1562-1626). Here, we meet a good-natured peddler with trinkets to sell.
10 "Dein blaues Auge," song for voice and piano, (op. 59 #8) text by Klaus Groth, music 1873 by Johannes Brahms. "Your blue eyes gaze so quietly; I see fully into their depth. "What would you see," you ask. "I see myself restored." One glowing pair scorches me; still, the pain lingers. But your gaze is as the lake, so clear; and as the lake, so cool."
11 "Till Österland vill jag fara" was originally a sacred song written in the mid-1700's and is believed to have been composed by a Swedish sailor, Anders Flöija. It is said to be the first Swedish song to have been recorded on phonograph in 1899. "To Eastern lands would I travel. There lives the one dearest to me. Beyond mountains and deep valleys, 'neath the shade of the green linden tree." Many of its verses were inspired by the Song of Solomon, and the melody goes back to a Swedish hymn book from 1695. In this arrangement, which I have entitled "Eastern Lands," I mostly leave the verses to be sung by recorder and clarinet to a very simple guitar accompaniment.
12 "The Bonny Boy ," traditional song from Scotland; has occurred under many titles, the earliest from 1792. In one version, the boy is married off at 12 and a father at 13--child marriages were somewhat more common in the Middle Ages. However, we are observing a bit more decorum here...
13 "Ain't Technology Great--A Study in Cyber Suffering," text and music by Gudrun Brunot. "technology is wonderful, isn't it?" How often haven't I heard people gush these words at me, especially those who never touch the stuff and are unaware of how seldom it really performs at the level you expect. We serious users, however, are well acquainted with its time-guzzling, seductive, devious, dual nature...
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