No Song is Safe From Us

No Song Is Safe From Us - The NYFOS Blog
 |  Amy Asch

June 30 is close enough to July 4 that I’d like to conclude this week with “Ballad for Americans,”  a patriotic cantata for soloist, chorus and orchestra. All through my childhood my father played the Paul Robeson recording on Independence Day. Between Robeson’s voice, the casual references to historical figures, the questions and the lists, elementary-school Amy found it absolutely thrilling.  As I grew older, it also took on the good feelings that come with a family tradition.




 |  Amy Asch

“April in Paris” was recorded by all the big mid-century pop singers; secondhandsongs.com lists more than 60 versions. But my favorite recording omits the lyric. Here is the Count Basie Orchestra, swinging hard in a 1955 arrangement by Wild Bill Davis.




 |  Amy Asch

In this April 1926 recording (made in London for English Columbia), George Gershwin plays and Fred Astaire sings and taps. To paraphrase the Passover Haggadah: if George Gershwin plays and Astaire sings and taps, dayenu. It would have been enough. But this recording contains a few bonus delights, as Gershwin interpolates licks from Rhapsody in Blue (written the same year as the song) and the men call out to each other. Pure happiness.




 |  Amy Asch

I first encountered Candide in a college production that my high school’s Thespian Club attended. It was exciting and irreverent and the “Make Our Garden Grow” finale had me walking on air. I talked about the show so much that my mom bought me the double LP (1974 version with the red cover), which I played over and over in my bedroom. Thanks, Mom!