Here we are at the last week of the month already. This means it’s release week!
In our email community, we’ve had a fun time of exploring what we can do with the theme of “State Fair” throughout this end-of-summer month, a time when agricultural fairs are dotting the country. Farmers are showcasing their livestock. Gardeners are sharing their bounty. Bakers and sewers and woodcarvers are checking to see what color ribbon they were granted.
I’ll admit, when we launched this theme, we weren’t 100% sure where it would lead us. “Classically trained singer and crazy pianist/writer wife create a musical goulash of uncoordinated music velcroed to a timely though unfit theme more akin to circus than a singer of this caliber” seemed a likely title for a review. (At least we didn’t go so far as selecting “Fairest, Lord Jesus” to be one of our songs, as one of our readers so wittingly suggested.)
Nonetheless, we had a blast. With the historical roots of the agricultural fair as the basis of our song selection, we built out the themes of COMPETITION, RELIGION, EDUCATION, and ENTERTAINMENT. For kicks, we included a [completely unscientific] rubric for each song, measuring its “Agricultural Score” – the number of times the lyrics reference plants or animals.
Our hope is that this diverse mix of songs, threaded with this fun theme, will encourage you to see beauty in unlikely places, to love yourself and your surroundings a little more, and to have some good laughs.
Throughout this coming week I will share a longer post dedicated to each song. Keep reading for a snapshot of each of the four songs.
Week 1: “Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)” (post up! see here)
1946 words and music by Irving Berlin (1888-1989)
What is the State Fair if not a great place for the comradery and excellence inspired through COMPETITION? Nathan invited Christy Jones to return to SongNotes in this recording of the favorite song from the musical Annie, Get Your Gun. An American classic, an amusing tryst, a fantastical showcase of talented voices, “Anything You Can Do” is about as fun as it gets.
Week 2: “The Lord’s Prayer” (post up! see here)
1935 music by Ablert Hay Malotte (1895-1964)
Did you know the annual agricultural fair comes from a tradition that honors RELIGION? An unexpected offering with the theme of State Fair, “The Lord’s Prayer” is a rich song actually ties in really well with the underlying intention of these fairs. People want to know that they will be well provided for, that they resources are enough, and that they are part of something much bigger than themselves. We even dive into Greek etymology as we connect the significance of our daily bread of life to our daily activities – even fairgoing.
Week 3: “It’s Been a Long, Long Time”
1945 music by Jule Styne (1905-1994) and words by Sammy Cahn (1913-1993)
What is EDUCATION without a history lesson? You get that in this segment, not so much about the specific song, but about the Minnesota State Fair itself. Looking into the reasons behind the five years that the state fair did not occur, one feels pulled to a compassion for the folks who started our country and state. In honor of the 1945 absence due to World War II, “It’s Been a Long, Long Time” is sung from the perspective of one welcoming home a soldier after the end of the war.
Week 4: “Mr. Cellophane”
1975 music by John Kander (b. 1927), lyrics by Fred Ebb (1928-2004)
Fairs as we know them are all about ENTERTAINMENT. Ever feel as though no one sees you at all? Being a performer can be a strange world to live in: in front of many, yet not really there at all. Nathan shares some of his own experience developing his interests and intention as a singer, smattered with insecurity and expectations. Through the comical lens of this musical theater number, we explore just how important it is to see yourself.
Here’s the music sampler with bits of each song!:
Interested in getting the full version of all this State Fair music quirkiness? If you subscribe to SongNotes between now and Friday, September 6, you’ll get it all sent right to you. (You can still get it later, but it will cost a wee bit more)
Not quite ready for that, but want to hear about these songs in real time when we reveal them each Saturday? Click here to get our free Saturday Sampler emails.
Signing off on this beautiful Labor Day weekend!
~Your personal song curators
Nathan and Naomi Bird