Season 562 - Poetry in Song

I guess limericks are considered poetry Joo, although probably not high class poetry. I thought the top hat might add a bit of class to the production.
These came from various places and I made some up and changed others. I think the tune is fairly generic, but I'm not sure where it came from.


Edited to add: I just noticed your comment, "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. . ."
The uke I used is a Joe Zier tenor that I traded my friend George for a Gretsch arch top guitar that I wasn't making enough use of. Its a cedar top, Madagascar rosewood sides back and board, curly koa binding, mahogany/maple neck with lattice bracing on the soundboard. It is set up with linear tuning and Worth Browns, but I snapped the A string and replaced it with one I had in my parts box. It has no sound hole in the top and a sound port on the bass side.
The pickup is from Mi-Si Electronics Design Inc.
 
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Hello again Joo! When I saw the theme I thought I could post this one that I wrote during February Album Writing Month, called "Poetical Science". It's about Ada Lovelace, and is kind of co-written with her, in that it uses a lot of words from things she wrote. For all the mentions of poetry, though, the only reason it really fits the theme is that it mentions Byron (so that's option 2). Ada Lovelace is widely regarded as the first computer programmer, but I think she had a far more important insight which is that numbers are not only for calculations but also useful for describing music, pictures, and other things - something we now rely on every day. So this song attempts to honour her for that.

I've posted this before, but to the Island rather than for a season, so I think I can get away with posting it again. I think I've found a better key to sing it in this time although, alas, I've been talking all day, so it seems I'm singing a bit quieter. On the plus side, while I was overdubbing more voices for the chorus to compensate for the quietness, I think I might have accidentally found a way of singing some harmonies, so there's that.

I have also included a little bit about the ukes I'm playing it on at the end, as requested :).

 
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Good morning! It is 8 ish here.
It is currently around -
28 degree Celsius
Precipitation 7%
Humidity 84%
Wind 5km/h
This afternoon, it is going up to 31 degree Celsius
Lightning, thunder, rain all expected to happen.
BUT, as David Lynch likes to say in his Weather Reports,
"It's going to be wall-to-wall beautiful blue skies and golden sunshine all along the way!
EVERYONE! Have a great day!"


I have added the songs that came in overnight (for me) to the playlist. I will comment on them later!

Keep the songs coming!!!
 
Here's a Robert Frost poem about the Dog Star set to music with a video of a star dog - Ruby the Greyhound. She's having a brief respite from eating my shoes and remote controls to take some exercise with her good friend Curious George the Monkey,
 
Hi again, dear Seasonistas!
Thank you for your songs that came in overnight for me.
I have just finished listening to them, really like them. Super impressed by the quality!

Here are the wonderful entries, and my comments:

Rob - Them Toad Suckers, a Mason Williams set to music
where else do we absolutely need the jews harp? HERE! enjoyed this immensely. Thanks for sharing this beauty, Rob!

Rob - Resumé, a poem by Dorothy Parker set to music
I have watched this a few times now. The first time I watched it I burst out laughing till tears came out of my eyes. This is so good. I haven't read much Dorothy Parker. I will after this. It isn't just your superb playing and reading, it is the whole vibe, the way you perform this by just being you, which to me is the best sort of performance. Love it.

Ila covers Memory, a song composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by Trevor Nunn based on poems by T. S. Eliot
I too had no idea this was based on poems by T.S. Eliot. Not an easy song to sing, isn't it? You did a lovely job, Ila! Your vibrato is pretty cool....

Wim - I Heard a Fly Buzz, by Emily Dickinson
That fly just keeps buzzing for you...from U2 to this. haha. Thanks for being such a good sport, Wim! I like that effect that is kind of wah-wah-y from halfway of the song onwards. Great strumming as usual! And thanks for sharing about your ukes. Worths browns seem pretty popular. I might try them one day.

Berni - The Hand that Signed the Paper, a Dylan Thomas's poem set to a Bob Dylan tune (All Along the Watchtower)
I love the pipes!!! I remember watching this. I think there was a very passionate exchange about them on the forum. And who else can sing over them other than you, or Jim Persky, or...several other seasonistas I am thinking of now... I bet you have listened to Dylan Thomas recite his poems before, Berni? It is so strangely captivating for me...especially when he read And Death Shall Have No Dominion. It is a bit like singing or chanting to me. Thanks for sharing this awe-inspiring marriage of 2 great poets!

Arvin covers O Holy Night, based on a French-language poem by poet Placide Cappeau
aha! I spotted that lil' camera that records the fretboard action! I feel like a fly on your Sparrow Flying V tenor, inspecting Mr. Arvin's fretwork. The Fly said to me : Mr Arvin is really good! But whenever he jiggles the string to let the note vibrate, I lose my foothold!
A bit of random joo-ing here. I LOVE the sound of the tenor uke through the guitar pedals. This is lovely, Arvin, thanks!
(I wonder if anyone might feel to make a haiku or poem after the names of your guitar pedals, recording gear and uke?)

Jim Yates - Limericks, limericks set to song
I like it! Smiling throughout here, Jim! Hope it was fun for you to play and sing this too! I like serious in a non- serious way! And this is it! Cool hat, what do you call this kind of hat, Jim? Oh, you know I love this uke you are playing. It sounds gorgeous and looks it too, what little I see. It sounds like you play only in linear tuning? And ok, you use Worth browns too... I will try them soon. Thanks for this delightful entry!

Alan - Singer in the Mist, a poem by Robert E. Howard set to music
Fantastic!!! I think you have done an awesome pairing of the poem with your arrangement! Love the sound of your main uke...(i heard a buzzing though...but that actually works for this song in my opinion), and that little melody you play over is lovely. Nice second vocals, i know you must have deliberately made it/them to sound distant, like lost in the mist or something. Thank you, Alan! This is a brilliantly arranged, atmospheric piece of work! And thanks for the smile at the end. :----)

Edwin - Poetical Science, an original about computer programmer Ada Lovelace, mentions poet Byron
I remember this very clearly, Edwin. Your voice is lovely, in both versions. But here, it sounds older and wiser and sings these words perfectly. Beautifully. The harmonies are great. They are fun to do, aren't they? I really like the picking; they flow along like water. Great songwriting and a beautiful tribute (and collab!) Thanks for sharing about your ukes. They both sound gorgeous. Cedar gives a lovely sound. And I am convinced I need to buy some Worth browns. Almost everyone is using them...Thanks for this lovely song!

John (jp888then) - Canis Major, a Robert Frost poem set to music
dog star shining brightly on star dog. I love this! I too like the loose strumming. And especially the aahs and ooh's and the high parts you sing. this underdog may be earthbound, but he sounds so carefree! Wonderful combination of poem and music and video. Ruby is gorgeous. Nothing looks happier than a dog playing. Thanks for this beauty, John!


Thanks everyone for your songs!!!
Here is a poem.
I happened to open a book at my library today and saw it. Serious.

Problems of Poetry
There was a young poet of Tring
Whose poetry never would rhyme,
When I asked him the reason,
He sighed, 'It's the Time of Year.
I never can rhyme round about Christmas.'

(Oh dear!)
(Try again!)
(Here goes!)

There was a young bard from the Isthmus
Whose poetry was rhythmless (that's better!)
When I asked him the reason
He groaned, 'It's the Time of Year.
I can't get it right in the Spr...
(Oh dash. It's autumn!)'

So he sat at his desk and he cried
And his chest it did heave like the sea going in and out,
'Oh I can't get it together
Whether it's sunny or raining.'
So he went to his bed, but he didn't even die.

Gerard Benson
 
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Here’s a John Lennon one, from his first post Beatles album with the Plastic Ono band from 1970. I’ve always loved the simplicity of this. I have already done a cover of this on piano on the “Seasonistas play other instruments thread”. I played it a bit slower than it should be, I was tempted to re-record it, but hey, it’s on there if you want to check it out.

For this version I tried different approaches. I quite like double tracked vocals so I tried recording it on one iPad, then playing that and singing over it while recording on another iPad but that didn’t quite work. So I recorded a version on Garage Band. You can hear two ukes, my bari, which is a cheap laminate one I’ve used loads of times. Me and my daughter painted it a few years back, because, well, just because 😊. The other uke is my Klös carbon fibre tenor. I initially bought it about 4 years ago because I wanted a good robust plug in uke. It has a funny little headstock, which doesn’t look quite right….but that’s why I like it. Anyway, I then put the track on iMovie and added a video. I am playing and singing but you can’t hear it, just Garage Band. In the end I thought, it would have been much simpler to sing it straight to camera, but I’d already put too much effort in bu this time so wysiwyg 😂.

The lyrics:
Love is real, real is love
Love is feeling, feeling love
Love is wanting to be loved

Love is touch, touch is love
Love is reaching, reaching love
Love is asking to be loved

Love is you
You and me
Love is knowing
we can be

Love is free, free is love
Love is living, living love
Love is needing to be loved



Here are those two ukes.

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When Loenard Cohen died I found this poem of his and set it to music... basically it is an old man looking back on his life and asking forgiveness, but also looking forward to what comes after, and the hope that he will sail into the arms of his love.

Mission
I’ve worked at my work
I’ve slept at my sleep
I’ve died at my death
and now I can leave.

Leave what is needed
and leave what is full
need in the spirit
and need in the whole.

Beloved, I’m yours
as I have always been,
from marrow to pore
from longing to skin.

Now that my mission
has come to its end
I pray I’m forgiven
the life that I’ve led

the body I chased
it chased me as well.
My longing’s a place
my dying a sail.
 
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I wish I had read more poetry in my life. I really like Lawrence Ferlinghetti but I couldn't find any of his that jumped out as musical possibilities. I remember my grandmother telling me that God understands when the fish are biting as an excuse to miss church. I believed it. Ogden Nash had similar thoughts that I put to music.


I didn't go to church today
I trust the Lord to understand
The surf was swirling blue and white
the children swirling in the sand

He knows, he knows how brief my stay
How brief this spell of summer weather
He knows when I am said and done
We'll have plenty of time together
 
For SotU 562 Poetry In Song: I remembered hearing this back in the 70s on the "Nobody's Fools" album and it has stuck me with ever since. Slade had a wider range than their singles would suggest and I always thought this was a fun and witty way to look at nursery rhymes and sometimes think about the other side of them.



Luna tribal 6 baritone guilele, tenor Flight "strat" electric on slide duties.
 
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Carol Ann Shields was born and raised in the States, but moved to Canada, married a Canadian, had her children and became a Canadian citizen. Among her awards are the Pulitzer Prize and the Governor General's Award. Her original was called Mrs. Turner Mowing The Grass.
Rick Fines awards include Maple Blues Award for Songwriter of the Year, and twice for Acoustic Act of the Year. Rick made it into a song called Mrs. Turner Is A Sight.

 
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a Rachel Field poem

slowly he turns himself round and round
lifting his paws with care
twisting his head in a sort of bow
to the people watching there

his keeper grinding a weary tune
jerks at the iron chain
and dusty patient bear goes through
his solemn tricks again

only his eyes are still and fixed
in a wild bewildered stare
more like a child's lost in the woods at night
than the eyes of a big brown bear




on my junk pile find valencia 1/4 size guitar / guitalele - it has 1972 and model TC11 on a sticker inside - haven't even changed the strings

valencia.jpg
 
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Hi dear Seasonistas,
Hope everyone is feeling alright today.
So good to see the songs that came in overnight.
I will add them to the playlist now, but will comment later.

I think it is a good idea to post the poem that you are setting to music here.
I forgot to mention that.
I will be back.
Keep the songs coming, and do check out the entries that have come in so far. They are all pretty special.
Seeya!
 
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thank you for hosting this week Joo
2 poems from Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology (1915)
that Richard Buckner set to music on his The Hill LP (2000)
the uke i'm playing is a Pohaku concert, w/ mahogany top + back
+ maple sides + neck




julia miller

We quarreled that morning,
For he was sixty-five, and I was thirty,
And I was nervous and heavy with the child
Whose birth I dreaded.
I thought over the last letter written me
By that estranged young soul
Whose betrayal of me I had concealed
By marrying the old man.
Then I took morphine and sat down to read.
Across the blackness that came over my eyes
I see the flickering light of these words even now:
"And Jesus said unto him, Verily
I say unto thee, To-day thou shalt
Be with me in paradise."


ollie mcgee

Have you seen walking through the village
A man with downcast eyes and haggard face?
That is my husband who, by secret cruelty
never to be told, robbed me of my youth and my beauty;
Till at last, wrinkled and with yellow teeth,
And with broken pride and shameful humility,
I sank into the grave.
But what think you gnaws at my husband's heart?
The face of what I was, the face of what he made me!
These are driving him to the place where I lie.
In death, therefore, I am avenged.
 
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HMS Donovan is a double album by Donovan, released in 1971.
More than half of HMS Donovan's tracks are traditional folk songs, hymns, and classic poems for and about children, which Donovan set to original melodies. Many of the poems were from the book, One Hundred Poems for Children compiled by Herbert Strang. Other poems come from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

Here is one from this album. A quick one I did after lunch at work, from this album, one called A Funny Man, written by Natalie Joan.
It is a great song to have some illustrations or animations to go with. I don't have the time to do it this week though. I play this with my no brand flat body soprano uke which I talked very briefly about at the start of the video. I'm not sure what wood the laminate is. Maybe koa.


One day a funny kind of man
Came walking down the street
He wore a shoe upon his head
And hats upon his feet

He raised the shoe and smiled at me
His manners were polite
But never had I seen before
Such a funny sounding sight

He said, "Allow me to present
Your Highness with a rose"
And taking out a currant bun
He held it to my nose

I staggered back against the wall
And then I answered, "Whell
I never saw a rose with such
A funny looking smell"

He the began to sing a song
"Hmm, mm, mm, mm, mm"
And sat down on the ground
You never heard in all your life
Such a funny feeling sound

"My friend, why do you wear two hats
Upon your feet?", I said
He turned the other way about
And hopped home on his head
 
Cancel culture is rife... it is so easy to be offended for others... it is so easy to become a keyboard social justice warrior from the comfort of your basement... I find an element of self censorship comes into play for every statement you might make on social media... certain words can not be used..
certain subject cant be discussed... the songs of certain singers can no longer be sung.

Thankfully there is the white American middle class male who is a target anyone can aim at with impunity.
 
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Here is the wrap-up for today's entries.

John ( One Man And His Uke) brings a John Lennon song, Love
This is a timeless song, isn't it. Your version here is so beautiful. Your voice, and the harmonies. The lovely, gentle picking. Your uke sounds great to me. Cheap laminates, especially the baritones, have that sort of deep, almost clunky sound that I absolutely adore. What strings does it have on? I really love that mustard yellow colour on the sides! The flowers on the headstock. Are they painted or stickers? Also, I like the filter you used for the video, it really brings out the colour of the uke and your hoodie. Singing straight to the camera is often the best way for me too. This is a gorgeous cover and video. Thank you so much, John.

Rob - Mission, poem by Leonard Cohen set to music
Such a beautiful song you have made, and a moving tribute. I love how your voice sound here... a bit more fragile than usual...I love that. and the way you sing this. Beautiful poem. I especially love the second and last stanza. Thanks for sharing this, Rob.

Chris (Justaguest) - I Didn't Go to Church Today, a poem by Ogden Nash set to music
This is super! I love the double vocals (is it?) And the double uke! And especially the bass. What a cool poem! I love it! I will check out his poems! Light Verse (the way they describe his writing on the internet) sounds like the sort of stuff made just for me. Oh, and nice to hear the waves in the recording, it works. Do you surf, Chris? (I don't mean the internet. I mean the waves...)

CeeJay covers Did Ya Mama Ever Tell Ya? by Slade, a song about Nursery Rhymes
I love this! haha! Great song! That guitalele and the electric slide sound work so well together. You know I always enjoy your videos. Hope you are feeling less miserable by playing music. Keep the songs coming, Ceejay!

Jim Yates covers Mrs Turner is A Sight by Rick Fines, which is based on Carol Shields' book Mrs Turner Mowing the Grass
wow. I am going get that book by Carol Shields! I have heard how great her writing is. This poem that Rick Fines wrote ...geez.....quite powerful. I love when people write something so simple but saying something more. Saying so much by not saying too much, that's what I am saying. And I am saying too much here. I dun care. Thanks for showing us your uke! It is drop dead gorgeous. and sounds like a million bucks. No wonder you traded your Gretsch arch top guitar for it! Thanks for this gem, Jim!

Pa - The Dancing Bear, a poem by Rachel Field set to music
the waltz works. love that little instrumental break you did. and....the VALENCIA 1/4 GUITAR!!!!! thanks for sharing about it. I love how old it looks, that sticker inside. I saw a Valencia 1/4 at the shop the other day..now I am tempted. Thanks so much for this sad but beautiful song.

Jon covers Julia Miller and Ollie Mcgee, both songs are poems by Edgar Lee Masters which Richard Buckner set to music
drop dead gorgeous uke and a really moving rendition of Julia Miller! Such a tragic story. Ollie Mcgee-wow, you gave it such passion and intensity, very powerful! It's like you gave every bit of yourself to sing this. There is something very dignified about the way you did it too. Absolutely moving. Thank you for these 2 songs, Jon!

Joo covers A Funny Man, a poem by Natalie Joan that Donovan set to music
Er. This is probably not the right key for you, kid. Also, there is too much clutter in the room. And, you didn't do that funny way Donovan sang "allow" in the original. Otherwise, it is acceptable. Next!

Rob - Giving Thanks to the White American Middle-Class Male, a poem by Charles Bukowski set to music
hahaha!!! Great footage of said species with cigars! There is one guy in one of those photos, with a tree trunk size cigar and that made me laughed out loud. Love the music, Rob! (Very naughty footage too, haha)

Thank you everyone for your songs!
Keep the songs coming!!!


(edit: I forgot to say- so I think we have reached the mid-season quiet time again....Um...your host might start posting 10 songs in 2 hours so if you don't really want to have that sort of suffering, maybe try to stop her before she starts going out of control? 😅)
 
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Love this challenge, Joo! I was a poetry fan/writer of poetry long before I played the ukulele, and I love seeing what everyone is coming up with.

I have set the pen “Break, Break, Break” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, to music. The tune came suspiciously easy for me, so I may have stolen it but I don’t think so?

The uke I’m playing is a solid spruce top Ohana tenor. It is my favorite uke, recently returned from the luthier after I was careless and bashed it into the footboard of my bed. But the cracks are barely visible now and it plays as good as ever.

Break, Break, Break
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.

O, well for the fisherman's boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O, well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanish'd hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.
 
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i've got a problem here. There is a stray cat sleeping in my room, and I am waiting for him to wake up...
He seems to have passed out from his day adventures, and I am quite sleepy...
I have no litter bin for him for the night, so i am waiting for him to wake up... while waiting, i made this song up...
some of the photos were taken on another day when he came to visit me...
The uke i play for this recording is shown in the video. It has a wide fretboard. Aquila strings. I painted it with acrylic paint.

the way he sleeps is poetry
the way his eyes are closed
the way he rests his paws on the floor
the way he curls up like a baby
the way his claws jut out of his fingers
the way he tucks his tail between his legs
the way he stretches himself out
the way he twitches while dreaming of treats*
the way he places his paw on his face
the way he exposes his belly
to a stranger like me.

*things he finds outdoors...


the cat is still sleeping...
um...i might have to just go to bed now and hope he doesn't need to do his business in the middle of the night...
 
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