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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Song Stuff: A Few of my Current Obsessions

Girls Girls Girls (Celtic Thunder)- This song was in the Voyage show, and is on the DVD for that show. I know I first heard this song as a barbershop chorus arrangement, probably at a barbershop concert at Chautauqua in Boulder. If I am remembering the concert correctly, the men's chorus sang this song, and then the Sweet Adelines chorus came on in their bright ruffled red dresses for their portion of the show. I was 5-8yrs old, probably about 6, so this was a long time ago. The song, though, is characteristically not a barbershop original, but comes from a band called Sailor, out of Britain. Sadly, for all the information on the Internet now, there is not as much as I would wish, especially about songs like this. And, there are very few barbershop recordings of this one online, let alone good ones. Amusingly, the lead singer of Sailor in the 70's was a Norwegian man, and one of the other guys on vocals was German, so the original version of this song has a strong accent, like the guy is singing with marbles in his mouth, almost, just like a lot of the Scandinavian and German a cappella groups who have videos of this song online now.

The Banjo Song (Keith Harkin)- YouTube says this song is by Keith Harkin, and he is certainly the man singing it. I am guessing he wrote it, too, especially since it sounds like his sort of lyrics. Anyway, this song is making me feel guilty about my poor old mandolin. This song is about a banjo that is always out of tune, and is nonetheless well loved. One of the verses tells that the banjo was given to a friend and for 4 years it sat alone and cried, just wanting to be heard and loved. Talk about guilt-tripping! Yes, ok, so I have not yet learned how to tune my mandolin, let alone play it, but it is only even mine because my dad abandoned it. But excuses or not, I am now going to have the image of my poor mandolin sobbing in its corner until I get it fixed up and play with it, all because of Keith and his banjo song.

In Too Deep (Ryan Kelly)- I do really hope that Ryan starts writing happier music soon. If not, perhaps his life can stay happy and satisfying, enough that it is really obvious that he is not actually depressed. He does the melancholy brooding image very well. This particular song, though, off Ryan's album In Time, seems to be nearly autobiographical, if it were in fact written this year about the crap he was going through this past year. Especially as a song posted on Valentines Day, it's no wonder Ryan seemed to be feeling this song particularly keenly when he was recording his acoustic version of this song. Still, so long as he is doing much better now, this song is actually quite good. I have been using stills from it to practice drawing facial expressions, and it's definitely growing on me the more I hear it. Too bad he and Neil Byrne will only be on the East Coast for their mini tour this next few weeks, cause I'd bet he will be playing this tune for at least some of those shows.

Gethsemane- from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar,this song has of course been sung by many people. I would love to hear Ryan Kelly's version, actually, but for now I have versions sung by Michael Crawford and Michael Ball, and especially with Ryan's "Were You There" video on youtube, these songs dramatize nicely some of the most human elements of the Biblical crucifixion story. As a staunch atheist, I am not inclined to seek out religious music, but with the centuries of development Christian music has enjoyed, there is a lot of great music which is unavoidably religious. And, even without the faith and belief that a Christian might bring to these songs, the stories told through Bible scenes in songs like these capture some of the more complex and poignant moments in human life.

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