Wedding Anthem, from As You Like It (Day 62)

This morning, a song that honors marriage, one the comes from Shakespeare’s As You Like It (like the songs I posted yesterday and the day before):

Wedding is great Juno’s crown,
O blessèd bond of board and bed.
‘Tis Hymen peoples every town.
High wedlock then be honorèd.
Honor, high honor, and renown,
To Hymen, god of every town.

This song was written intentionally in a gospel style, and we were fortunate to have a terrific young singer, Wynter Spears, to deliver the message. On this track, you’ll hear me trying to approximate the stylings of Mahalia Jackson, and I’ll leave it to you to be the judge of my effectiveness.

For a contrasting point of view on the topic of marriage, listen to Who Wants To Be Married?, from my most recent musical, Leading Lady. Actually, this song is a bit of a head-fake: it is skeptical about the idea of marriage until the end, when the two characters experience a change of heart.

As a guy who’s been married for nearly 35 years, I consider myself an experienced commentator, and I’m definitely a fan. Of course, marrying the right individual is key, and luckily, I managed to do that. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine two people more dissimilar than D’Arcy and me, and there are still times, even after all these years of companionship, when those differences lead to conflict and unhappiness. Nevertheless, I remain convinced that what makes us different is part of what makes us great as a couple: we complete each other, we complement each other in countless ways, and that means we are greater together than we are separately. I wish more people could be as lucky as we are.

Hey, if you haven’t seen it yet, there’s a story about Project 194 on the website musicalmakers.com. The author is Carol De Giere, who’s the author of Defying Gravity, the definitive Stephen Schwartz bio, and her most recent book, The Godspell Experience, is a comprehensive resource for scholars and fans of that historic 1970 musical.

If you missed them, these are the songs already posted on Project 194; the links on the right are songs chosen at random from previous posts. Want to contribute to my interactive composition, “Hear My Song?” Read more here. Want to receive daily songs delivered direct to your inbox? Sign up here!

Under the Greenwood Tree, from As You Like It (Day 61)

Shakespeare by David LevineDay 61 of Project 194 finds us still enjoying the “peaceful, easy feeling” of the Forest of Arden. Like yesterday’s post, this is a composer’s demo of music that I created for the 1998 production of As You Like It at The University of the Arts.

Under the greenwood tree,
Who loves to lie with me,
And turn his merry note
Unto the sweet bird’s throat,
Come hither, come hither, come hither:
Here shall he see
No enemy
But winter and rough weather.

Who doth ambition shun,
And loves to live i’ the sun,
Seeking the food he eats,
And pleased with what he gets,
Come hither, come hither, come hither:
Here shall he see
No enemy
But winter and rough weather.

A moment later in the scene, another character sings a sarcastic parody of this song, improvising a mocking text to fit the same melody:

If it do come to pass
That any man turn ass,
Leaving his wealth and ease
A stubborn will to please,
Ducdamè, ducdamè, ducdamè:
Here shall he see
Gross fools as he,
An if he will come to me.

I can see how director David Howey sensed the spirit of the Woodstock generation in a song like this one. It invites the listener to “drop out” of the rat race, shunning ambition to lie under a tree and listen to the birds sing. The play is a pastorale, a fantasy of courtly characters in a rural setting, and this morning it makes me recall Alec Wilder’s lovely pop song, “It’s So Peaceful In The Country,” with its memorable bridge:

City living is a pretty living
It’s so full of unexpected thrills
But there’s too much stone
Too much telephone
There’s too much of everything but trees and hills.

If you missed them, these are the songs already posted on Project 194; the links on the right are songs chosen at random from previous posts. Want to contribute to my interactive composition, “Hear My Song?” Read more here. Want to receive daily songs delivered direct to your inbox? Sign up here!

Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind, from As You Like It (Day 60)

Troop 194Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit! It’s the first of March, and that means that Project 194 has been going on for two entire months. The site has attracted more than 700 visitors since it went live at the beginning of the year, and nearly 2/3 of them come back repeatedly. That’s gotten the attention of the Philly arts blog Phindie.com. And of course, in the words of the immortal Al Jolson, “You ain’t heard nothing yet!”

I think we’ll spend some time with one of my favorite collaborators, William Shakespeare, in the coming days. I’ve had the privilege of composing music for half a dozen Shakespeare productions over the years, most recently this fall, when I created a score for Macbeth at the University of Delaware’s Resident Ensemble Players. I’ve chosen to begin, however, with something a little more seasonal, from As You Like It:


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Pump It Up! (Day 59)

As the Pythons used to say, “And now for something completely different…”

In the past two weeks, the Project 194 blog has featured songs from Watch The Birdie, songs that dealt with the joys and challenges of contemporary family life, and I enjoyed revisiting those songs and hearing from the artists who performed them in 1998 and 2008.

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 4.35.38 PMSo today, I’m free to post anything I want from the archives, and I chose Pump It Up!, a song that I wrote for a 1992 Sun Oil industrial that was performed in Atlantic City. Over the years, I’ve written a handful of songs for corporate clients, and they have just as much of the Chazzy G touch as that artsy-fartsy stuff I crank out so much of the time, so turn it up loud and enjoy!

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say, I’m not 100% certain that the music on this track wasn’t written or produced, at least in part, by my dear friend and colleague Evan Solot. I do recall that another Music school colleague from back in the day, George Akerly, had a hand in creating the drum tracks and the vocal samples. Also, I wish I could recall the vocalist who sang on this – she sounds fabulous, and I’ll have to give her an anonymous bow!

In the show, this song was lip-synced by three dancers outfitted by the estimable Gary Pagano, in what had to be a foreshadowing of his present gig as Vice President of Corporate Events at Viacom. Oh Gary, what adventures we had! From a pep rally for gas station owners to the MTV Music Awards is not so big a leap, it would appear!