Season 562 - Poetry in Song


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Nov 28, 2014
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Welcome to Season 562 - Poetry in Song!
This week is all about poetry.
I want -

1. Songs that are poems set to music



Richard Buckner's album The Hill is based on Edgar Lee Masters's The Spoon River Anthology
(I love this album)

Various readings and music

Jack Kerouac and jazz

A few I found
E. E. Cummings's [i Carry Your Heart With Me(i Carry It In]
by Michael Hedges
by our own seasonista, Alan Thornton
my cover(with fellow seasonista Kimi) of Alan's E.E. Cummings song

E. E. Cummings's Maggie & Milly & Molly & May
by Natalie Merchant

more on the internet for you to discover.....
Or you can set poems to music yourself!
Any poem is fine, although I would love to hear poems by Wallace Stevens, Philip Larkin, Anne Sexton and Raymond Carver set to music!

I love SPOKEN WORD music. So maybe try reading a poem to some uke-ing this week, if that sounds fun to try out?

2. Songs inspired by a poet or his/her poetry, or mention a poet's name

Lou Reed
's album The Raven, inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's poem
(I love this album)

El Dorado” is Michael Hurley's musical interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe’s 1849 poem of the same name.

Berni Armstrong's Hope is that Thing with Feathers (Emily Dickinson)

Some songs inspired by Sylvia Plath
20 Songs Inspired By Sylvia Plath (a mixtape) | | a tumblelog about music, etc.

Vic Chesnutt's Wallace Stevens (I love Vic Chesnutt's songs)

10,000 Maniacs' Hey Jack Kerouac

Berni has a playlist of poetry-inspired songs.
has played many songs inspired by or based on poems. I look forward to listening to them again.
Jon has a channel of his poems but it is not up at the moment.
I have set quite a number of poems to songs too.

3. Songs with excerpts of a (famous)poem in the lyric

Grand Salvo
's People I Know Die has a line from a Dylan Thomas's poem (I love this song)

4. You to bring original songs that fulfil 2 and 3.
You may also pen your own haiku and turn them into songs

some 1 minute haiku set to songlets by Seasonistas for inspiration

5. You to play any song(s) written by the musicians in the link below.
You are welcomed to play any song by any musician whose lyrics you consider poetic.

The usual rules apply.
No song limits.
Please comment on each other's videos on YouTube.

Prize - original cartoon/portrait of the winner drawn and painted by me.

I would love for you to tell me a little bit about your uke in your video - who made it, the wood, what strings, etc... Extra points for anyone who does this, and for anyone who comments on videos.

New seasonistas most welcome.

Have fun!

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This is a really well thought out and creative theme..good on ya Joo!
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Well done, Joo ... as John says, this is a very well thought out theme; and, what is more, you have dragged us out of the gutter, where we are currently residing!
Leave Your Sleep is the fifth studio album by American singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant. Produced by Merchant and Andres Levin, the double concept album is "a project about childhood" and is a collection of music adapted from 19th and 20th century British and American poetry about childhood.

this is a cover of her song based on Edward Lear's poem Calico Pie

played on my inexpensive oscar schmidt ou52 baritone ukulele

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I couldn't decide which of three songs to do, so I did them all.

1) I saw "The Raven" on your list and thought that would be fun to sing. So I set it to "Rave On" by Buddy Holly. Because why not, right?

The impending darkness and screaming cockatoos added a touch of appropriate ambience.

2) A few years back Rob, our resident Scot, hosted a Burns Day Season for Robert Burns' birthday, January 25. You could either set a Burns poem to music, or cover one of two specific songs by gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello.

I found this unusual punny Burns gem called "Epigram on Rough Roads", casting shade on bad roads and the people who make them – a sentiment we all can relate to centuries later.

Just before attempting to set it to music, I had been listening to one of the Gogol Bordello songs, "Start Wearing Purple", and my Burns song came out sounding suspiciously gypsy-punkish. So of course I decided to mash them up.

The title and refrain came from a joke my middle school friend and I thought was the most hilarious thing we'd ever thought up. Bumping around in the back of the band bus over a particularly badly potholed stretch of road, we would burst into peals of unstoppable giggling, saying, "This would be a good place for a road!"

This is a fun party jam song, because it's just two simple chords – Am and E7 – and you can keep it going for as long as people are having fun with it.

3) My talented New Jersey friend Ken Galipeau has an entire album, "Ken Sings Les", of clever, funny poems by impish British poet Les Barker. This one is a cautionary tale of a man and his dogs. Be careful how you name your pets!

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Cheers Joo. You mentioned a couple of my favourites. Raymond Carver and Wallace Stevens. I set the first 4 stanzas of Steven's " The Man with the Blue Guitar" to music. It's an epic with 33 stanzas..but the even the first 4 work as a song. On my Kala tenor 8 string capoed on fret 3 for a mandolinny sound. Words are on youtube.
This is a really well thought out and creative theme..good on ya Joo!
Well done, Joo ... as John says, this is a very well thought out theme; and, what is more, you have dragged us out of the gutter, where we are currently residing!
Thanks John and Val. Hope this theme inspires everyone to play something.
And, Val, it took me more than 5 minutes to work out what you were saying when you mentioned "the gutter", haha!
But hey, you still have many hours left for everyone to leave the gutter to become poets.
Great theme, Joo! And for me it once again raises the question of whether all or most song lyrics are simply poems set to music? With most of my own songwriting, the words come first. Where is the distinction? 🤔
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Great theme, Joo! And for me it once again raises the question of whether all or most song lyrics are simply poems set to music? With most of my own songwriting, the words come first. Where is the distinction? 🤔
Thanks for the question, Del.
It is like trying to define what Art is.

For me, I don't see every song lyrics as poetry. Poetry for me is something more, something that is not literal. Lyrics like "hit me baby, one more time" is not poetry to me. If not, every single speaking and writing person is a poet.

I want everyone to just have fun making and playing music, with a theme that I believe has not been done before.
I think it IS fun to try something different.
For a few years my wife had a weekend job officiating at civil wedding ceremonies - three or four a day, a bit like a conveyor belt of happiness. She grew heartily sick of saying "Please stand for the bride" as Ed Sheeran's "Perfect" rang out, but once in a while things were a bit different. Like the time she was asked by the groom to read this poem out.

Written by John Cooper-Clarke, he seems to have changed the words over the years, and when the Arctic Monkeys recorded a version, they changed it again. I have gone back to the words in his 1983 collection "Ten Years In An Open Necked Shirt".

Hi Joo, thanks for hosting - interesting theme you've picked!

Taking option 3, here's one from They Might Be Giants which quotes - in fact, borrows the first two lines from - Allen Ginsberg's epic "Howl". I've just read that he was happy to give them permission to quote it, and didn't ask for anything in return.

(Edit: oops, I forgot to tell you about the uke in the video! I'll try to remember next time...)
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i've set an extract from the tennyson poem "the lotos-eaters" to music (plus i added one small homemade line at the end of the extract, to bring the song to a close). we studied this poem at school, and two others by tennyson ("ulysses", and "the lady of shalott"), i absolutely fell in love with them, they are so vividly descriptive, and romantic. i'm playing my caramel cb500 rosewood laminate baritone uke, it was another thing i fell in love with, when i first saw del playing the one he bought, i just had to get one too! i bought it for how super it looks, but it also sounds great! the soundhole design is of a japanese betta fish, but i always like to think of it as a filigree hamster, which is what manuel in fawlty towers, called his pet rat! the uke is strung with aquila new nylgut strings, which i really like, aquila bari strings have a nice comfy low tension, and the new nylgut bari strings last loads longer then the old nylgut ever did, i loved them but the wound strings were always fraying and breaking. the uke is playing through a microcube here, for a bit of echo-y, atmospheric effect.

"beneath the blissful sky" 🎵

There is sweet music here that softer falls
Than petals from blown roses on the grass,
Or night-dews on still waters between walls
Of shadowy granite, in a gleaming pass;
Music that gentlier on the spirit lies,
Than tir'd eyelids upon tir'd eyes;
Music that brings sweet sleep down from the blissful skies.
(We lie beneath the blissful sky.)

"filigree siberian hamster" 😂

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Thanks for hosting Joo, life's been a bit busy so I missed the last couple of seasons. Anyway, here's what I consider to be a poetic song from Paul McCartney, it first appeared on the Revolver album back in 1966.
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Hey, Joo! Thanks for hosting and coming up with a really interesting theme!

I've gone with the 'setting a poem to music myself' option and, as requested, I've opted for Philip Larkin's The North Ship. First published in 1945.

I've kept it simple for the most part, voice and tenor ukulele with just a bit of GarageBand erhu in the middle...

We just recently started playing this song with the band, and I find the lyrics very interesting, and to me they are very poetic. There are great sentences like: I don't see you, when she walks in the room. This is called the Fly, by the Irish poets called U2.
I've uses my Hudson HUK-T Tenor (Low G, Laminate Mahogany) on the main recording, and then overdubbed some tracks with my Harley Benton Solid Body SG Concert Scale Uke (High G, the Gnarly Sounds), and my Harley Benton Solid Body Uke Bass. And because I could added some tambourine.
Good morning seasonistas! It is early morning here as I type.
Great to see all these songs up here! Thank you John, Val and Del for your comments.
(Del, you brought up a really good question. I have edited my criteria slightly to make things less confusing, if it was for anyone).

Big thanks to Pa, Wendy, John, Rob, Steve, Edwin, Lynda, Graham, Alan, Bob and Wim for your videos!
I am going to add everything to the playlist now, but I will watch and comment on your videos later!
Coffee time for me! I gotta go to work in a minute, but I might have quite a bit of free time today, so I will check back later!