Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Signs of Age: Songs of Youth

As I slide further into old fogeyhood, I can at least take comfort in the fact that music publishers recognize my disposable income by releasing music collections that I simply must have.

First, Rhino Records finally released an Allan Sherman box set, letting me regale my son (and torment my wife) with the borscht-belt-era parodyist's great work.

Lest you think that I am neglecting my son's general music education, we also obtained The Sesame Street 35th Anniversary CD Set, so the little one can get his first Big Bird, Ernie, Oscar, and Grover experiences. Actually, the heck with the little one... When you've got a mix that includes Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Hootie and the Blowfish, the Goo Goo Dolls, REM, Madeline Kahn, James Taylor, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Tony Bennett, you've got my kind of CD, even if the orange abomination known as Elmo has to be included. Cool/scary moment: finding out that the female voice on the REM cut ("Furry Happy Monsters" to the tune of "Shiny Happy People;" don't groan, it's actually quite good) is Stephanie D'abruzzo, who would later find fame... okay, maybe not fame, but recognition, as the Tony-nominated lead actress/puppeteer in Avenue Q.

"Wait!" I hear you cry. "You mean you bought a bunch of music without including showtunes?" Of course not, silly; purchase #3: Sondheim Sings, Volume 2, a collection of early songs performed by the master between 1946-1960, was released just for obsessive theater queen nerds like me (yes, apparently there's more than one... I'm equally horrified at the prospect, believe me). As opposed to the first album in the series, which mostly consisted of early versions of reasonably well known songs, this one's got stuff that virtually nobody's heard: songs Sondheim wrote in college, a little joke song written for a friend's birthday, assorted snippets of spoken recordings made for "Ockie" (Oscar Hammerstein), this is truly minutiae of minutiae, but oh, is it wonderful.

Now, where did I put that iPod?


At 9:53 PM , Blogger Faye Berman said...

I love furry happy monsters! I think it is a great song. I need to own Angels in America.

At 1:47 PM , Anonymous Karen U. said...

Every child needs Sondheim exposure! My almost 5 year old was watching Scooby-Doo last weekend. The episode was set in Japan, and as sonn as he heard a few beats of the "Asian" background music, he started singing "Welcome to Kanagawa.! Our work is done! I could go on, but we need to go watch "Liza with a Z" again (love that TIVO!)


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