Sunday 29 June 2008


I was recently tagged by Good Dog as follows:

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now.

Musically speaking, I'm not exactly known for being 'right into' anything - except a lot of very diverse classical music which I've discounted here - but I'm going to have a go!

So, here goes.............

First off is a reasonably contemporary performance (and the only one in my seven!): Jamie Cullum playing and singing the Stanley Adams-Maria Grever number, 'What A Difference A Day Made'.

I was hugely excited when I first heard Cullum's debut album, Twentysomething, and whilst his subsequent albums have rather failed to live up to my expectations, I still love his free-fall piano playing and that incredible voice - youthfully hopeful, smokily mature - which combine to create a mood that is both aspirational and nostalgic...

Next, and inevitably, is a Disney number! I often listen to Disney songs and I once made a BBC radio series about the studio's musical output. I have many favorites including (obviously) 'When You Wish Upon A Star' from Pinocchio and the entire original soundtrack from Mary Poppins which I play whenever I am feeling really depressed because it unfailingly lifts my spirits...

This is the title song from The Three Caballeros (1944) written by Ernesto Cortázar, Manuel Esperón and Ray Gilbert and featuring the Dinning Sisters, Ethel Smith at her famous electric organ (yep, you read that correctly) and the voice talents of Clarence Nash as Donald Duck, José Oliviera as José Carioca (he's the Brazilian, cigar-smoking parrot) and Joaquin Garay as the Mexican rooster, Panchito.

It's a memorable song filled with infectious energy and I can never hear it without smiling and seeing, in my mind's eye, those exhaustingly mad-cap visuals...

Now a duet between two of my favourite vocalists and musical legends: Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand.

Performed on The Judy Garland Show in 1963, Judy (aged 41) sings 'Get Happy', counterpointed by Barbra (then just 21) singing 'Happy Days Are Here Again'. Pure and enduring magic!

Well maybe just a tidge...

Let's get macho for a moment! Here's the cheese-grater voice of Tom Waits with a 1999 performance of 'Innocent When You Dream'.

I first heard this song when it was used in the 1995 Wayne Wang/Paul Auster film, Smoke, starring Harvey Keitel, William Hurt and Forest Whitaker. I bought the film soundtrack, played this one number to distraction and then set off in search of some more idiosyncratic numbers by Tom Waits.

The song is from his 1989 album, Frank's Wild Years and is called 'Innocent When You Dream' or 'Barroom'.

Some people probably find Tom too downbeat, melancholic -- OK, let's admit it, depressing! -- but I love that growling voice and the caustic sense of tragedy that runs through all his songs...

Now, in total contrast, here's a song by a performer I've 'discovered' only comparatively recently - the American singer and pianist, Blossom Dearie.

I love the languid, laid-back, late-night-café feel to her singing. This song, written specially for her by Michael Preston Barr and Dion McGregor, is from Ms Dearie's 1958 album Give Him the Ooh-La-La and was featured in the 2003 film My Life Without Me.

It is called, 'Try Your Wings'...

I have a passion for musicals (ancient and modern) and I could easily just have picked seven show songs including just about anything by Cole Porter, Rogers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Lowe, Jerry Herman or several dozen others - but, if I'm honest, probably nothing by Andrew Lloyd Webber!

Anyway, what I have picked is a song from one of my top-listed musicals (though there are those who argue that it is a modern opera): Stephen Sondheim's masterpiece, Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Recently Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter played Todd and his accomplice, Mrs Lovett, in Tim Burton's film version, but as much as I enjoyed it (which was a lot) the movie and the soundtrack album have sent me back to the original 1979 cast recording by Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou.

Here (from the 1982 National Tour of the show) is the wonderful Angela, here with George Hearn, singing my favourite song from the musical - the brilliant closing number to Act One: 'A Little Priest'...

For my last song, we stay with opera (or, more precisely, operetta): I frequently listen to recordings of songs by Gilbert and Sullivan - as opposed to Gilbert O'Sullivan - which have been part of my life since childhood. I was in school productions of The Pirates of Penzance (Third Policeman from the Left) and H M S Pinafore (Captain Corcoran) and, having a courtesy 'aunt' who was a member of the Kentish Opera Group, got to see a number of other Savoyard operas including The Gondoliers and The Mikado.

Among my first EPs were selections of songs from these operas and I learned several of the 'patter songs' by heart and have never forgotten them. In fact, if you'll pardon the name-dropping, I once performed this next song as a duet - albeit in private! - with Magnus Magnuson!

I love Gilbert's witty tongue-twisting lyrics and Sullivan's incomparable melodies, but as I wanted to end up with something that was pure FUN, here's a slightly abbreviated version of Ko-Ko's song, 'Tit Willow', from The Mikado --- as performed on The Muppet Show by Rowlf and Sam the Eagle...

So that's seven favourites and now I have to tag some others...

Who shall it be? Hmmm...

Well it'll have to be those with blogsites - although you really don't have to add all those YouTube links: the songs and singers will suffice - so here goes:Bentos (Bentos Animation); Ryan (Holy Embers of Dreams); Doug (Dog Rat); Bela (Slap of the Day); Andy (Andy's Animation)

And if any 'blogless' readers would like to tell me what they're listening to, I'll happily pass on your play lists and offerings can be checked out under More Thoughts below...

I can't find a currently available version of the Muppet Show version of 'Tit Willow', but the song was on Muppet Hits Take 2, so look out for it in charity shops and at boot fairs!


Anonymous said...

Music is such a major part of my life, I had to participate!
When I walk to work and back (twice & day!) I always have my MP3 with me and when I'm at home there's always music on. It's extremely difficult to trim the list down to 7, but here goes, in no particular order:
- Carlos Santana's Soul Sacrifice: the Woodstock version (nearly 20 minutes)
- Quand on n'a que l'amour by Jacques Brel always get the tears flowing!
- Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto: so romantic and nostalgic
- Into the West - the closing song to the Lord of the Rings
- We've gotta get out of this place by the Animals, brings back memories of school: we HAD to get outta THAT place!
- Joan Baez's And the band played Waltzing Mathilda
- Act naturally by the Beatles seems to have become my leitmotiv since I've been roped into amdrams!

SharonM said...

Very difficult to narrow it down to 7, I agree, Suzanne, but off the top of my head:

I Want to Break Free - Queen. Title is the story of my life and there are some great instumental moments in it.

Casta Diva - think I've got Monserrat Cabalet's version, but it doesn't matter who's singing it.

Samba Pa Ti - Santana - it's in a class of its own.

Stars from Les Miserables - sung by Philip Quast. His singing of it always gets the pulse racing (especially when you can actually see him on the DVD)

Bring Him Home - also from Les Mis, sung by Colm Wilkinson - really tugs at the heart strings.

Summer Time - not sure which version I prefer - it's a song I'd love to sing really well.

Memory from Cats (sorry Brian). It's a very poignant song.

Anonymous said...

Here are 7 that I am always delighted to hear at any time!

Blues in the Night - as sung by Julie London. Actually I can get into any Julie London number. She's got that lovely, deep, sexy smoky voice.

Pico and Sepulveda - Felix Figueroa and His Orchestra. I only discovered this song because it makes an appearance in Forbidden Zone, that dreadful old Danny Elfman movie from the early 80s. It's such a snappy little number.

Canon in D Major - Pachelbel. Of course it's overused at weddings these days, but when I hear it played by the right string group, it can move me to tears.

Lose Your Love - Blamcmange. A blast from my teen years, and a great video of the two guys tearing up (or down) a house. I believe the video was even banned in Britain at some point for fear of escalating domestic violence!

Spiritual High (State of Independence) - Chrissie Hynde. A lovely low, slow song with soaring vocals.

Electrical Storm - U2. Actually any U2 song is nice, but this one totally grabbed me when it came out, and it also reminds me of Egypt because it was always playing when I was there in 2002. :)

Cuts You Up - Peter Murphy. I'm a sucker for melancholy strings, what can I say.

Delight - TheThe. This is not the English band The The, but a Korean group, TheThe! It's the only Korean song I can sing after having lived here for 3 years. Cute pop girl vocals. :)

Brian Sibley said...

Fascinating selections - not sure those classical pieces ought to be listed as 'songs', but then Mendelssohn wrote a number of Lieder ohne Worte (Songs without Words) so I guess it's permissible!

Bentos said...


Brian Sibley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian Sibley said...

Thanks, GD...

Those 'forties Disney films - Saludos Amigos, 3 Cabs, Make Mine Muisc, Melody Time, Fun & Fancy Free, Ichabod & Mr Toad - are all invariable overlooked and yet contain some fabulously inventive sequences.

Rowlf and Sam: why is it so funny? I suppose because, as with all Rowlf's performances, there is the delightful absurdity of a somewhat scruffy-looking mutt playing a piano elegantly topped with a Liberace candelabra; plus, on this occasion, Sam the Eagle's suppressed indignation at having to say lines for a "dicky-bird"!

As for gloomy old Tom, what can one say? He sings it like so many of us feel it!!

Brian Sibley said...

Oh and by the way Qenny has also blogged his seven songs - via a tag from Mandy. What a musical bunch we all are!

Andy Latham said...

Damn you Brian!!

Here's my list!

Brian Sibley said...

Thanks, Andy! A great mix!

And here's a couple from Dog Rat's blog.

Ryan Rasmussen said...

Hey Brian, got mine done here (not sure how to link):

Bela said...

Brian, I have at last listed my favourite singers (rather than songs - I explain why) on my blog. Sorry I couldn't do it sooner. Thank you for thinking of me.