No Song is Safe From Us

No Song Is Safe From Us - The NYFOS Blog

Coming from an Irish family, my earliest memories of hearing live music came from family parties. The ‘adults’ would each take turns singing a song a cappalla in the circle in the living room. And my great grandma – Nana Nana – somehow knew every song. I remember thinking “how could she know all of these songs. Some of them weren’t even in English?” I was fascinated.




 |  Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts

A close friend of mine hosts lively dinner parties mixing exotic foods, unlikely pairings of people, and free flowing spirits. These convivial gatherings last late into the night, fueled by many elements including far reaching conversations. One night following a poignant memorial service, while ruminating on the musical choices of the service, we delved into the songs we’d want sung at our memorials.




 |  Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts

Though it ran on Broadway for more than 4 years and was a commercial success, I’ve never met anyone else who saw The Magic Show, a Broadway musical from the 1970s starring magician Doug Henning. My mother took me to see it when I was 12-years-old, and the main thing I remember is that it included a song about WEST END AVENUE—the street I lived on!




 |  Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts

I grew up in a household full of music. Both my parents are talented amateur musicians and
compulsive singers – you have to find yourself taking care to not say any sing-able phrase aloud
lest the whole family breaks into song mid conversation – even a cheerful “Good Morning” will
either give you Garland and Rooney or, perhaps more often from my flower child mother, “Good
Morning Starshine” from Hair.




Many songs from the American Roots realm (folk, blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, cajun, string band, traditional, and more genres) are cultural touchstones, songs that just about everyone knows. Songs like “Blowin’ In the Wind”, “Stand By Your Man”, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”. But there are hundreds, if not thousands, of lesser known songs being sung in local song circles, small coffee houses, regional festivals that, if given the opportunity, would also find their way into the canon of songs with the power to touch and move any listener.




I’ll admit it—I’m a Snarky Puppy addict. They’re ridiculously good. Picking only one song from them is actually easy because there’s no wrong choice. Listening to only one song is not easy, so if you’re reading this, and you haven’t listened to SP, a good starting point are their Family Dinner albums (volume 1 and 2).




 |  Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts

I spent the school breaks of my college years in Norway, while my parents lived there for a work assignment. It was impressed upon me during that time that the Norwegians are an entirely proud bunch, and nothing makes them more proud than their stunning landscape of rugged coastlines, vast mountain-scapes, and steep fjords.




 |  Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts

I can’t say for sure the first time I heard this song, but I remember distinctly when it first made a serious impression—as an encore at Susan Graham’s recital at Carnegie Hall in 2003. I was absolutely swept away by the beauty of it. Up until then I didn’t really know anything about Reynaldo Hahn (1875-1947), a Venezuelan-born composer who lived in France. Now I see his songs pop up on recital programs frequently.