Ten Songs to Stop You In Your Tracks

February 11, 2014

Stop and Listen

1. Penny Candy

Words/Music: Marc Blitzstein
Performers: William Sharp, Steven Blier

A perfectly-timed comedy duo here in one of Blitzstein’s many wonderful songs. Released by the New York Festival of Song in 2009, this entire album is worth taking two hours some day to sit back and really listen to. It’s magical.


2. Ní Liom Féin

Performers: Kíla

Kíla – a band fusing Irish and world styles together in mad, brilliant, fearless performances. If you ever get a chance to see them live, GO!

You can visit their website by clicking here.


3. Groaner, Canary & Nose

Performers: Judy Garland, Jimmy Durante, Bing Crosby

From an episode of Mail Call, a radio show produced by the Armed Service Radio Service in the 1940s, we hear three of the most famous personalities of the day – Judy Garland, Jimmy Durante and Bing Crosby – lament their woes of being seen as “simply voices” and long for a time when they will be given “a straight dramatic part.”


4. Wenn ich jodle, bin ich glücklich

Performer: Franzl Lang

One of Germany’s most beloved yodelers doing what he does best. In the words of my friend Macdara, “No Friday would be the same without Franzl.”


5. Poisoning Pigeons in the Park

Composer & Performer: Tom Lehrer

Tom Lehrer (my own particular idol since childbirth) in concert at the Sanders Theater at Harvard University in March 1959.


6. Frühgang

Composer: Hermann Zilcher
Poet: Detlev von Liliencron
Performers: Konrad Jarnot, Alexander Schmalcz

A captivating song by little-known composer Hermann Zilcher, from his Opus 12: Vier Lieder. For any singers and pianists interested in knowing more about his music, check out the Hermann Zilcher Gesellschaft website, or feel free to drop me a line!

7. Das Schlossgespenst

Composer: Martin Rosenstiel
Arranged: E. Gerhardt and F. Mayer
Performers: Ensemble Vokalzeit, Philip Mayer

In a similar style to that of The Comedian Harmonists, the Ensemble Vokalzeit take a look back at the Berlin cabaret scene in this song about a ghost who enjoys going bowling. With skulls.

8. Is It Peace Or Is It Prozac

Words & Music: Cheryl Wheeler, Jonathan Edwards & Bob Dawson
Performer: D.C. Anderson

I have listened to this track many, many, many times and it never fails to make me laugh.

You can visit D.C. Anderson’s website by clicking here.

9. Has Anybody Seen Our Ship?

Composer: Noël Coward
Performers: Gertrude Lawrence, Noël Coward
Forever associated with sparring couple Amanda and Elyot in the play Private Lives, Lawrence and Coward team up again for something entirely different in this extract from Red Peppers, one of ten plays from the ‘Tonight at 8:30’ collection.


10. The Astronomers (An Epitaph)

Composer: Richard Hundley
Performers: Paul Sperry, Irma Vallecillo

The text is a simple epitaph based upon an inscription found in Allegheny, Pennsylvania:

Susan Campbell 1863 – 1910
Brian Campbell 1862 – 1909
We have loved the stars too deeply
To be afraid of the night.


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In the title role and looking delectable, Naomi O’Connell’s creamy tone and elegant phrasing ravished the ear.

Seen & Heard International, 2012