Explain it if you can

Ready for a refreshing grapefruit sorbet between courses, hipsters? I've got more showtunes for you.

I'm compiling a mix. I do this all the time, painting from my limited palette, dipping into the same few artists over and over again. I try to branch out, really I do, but I keep coming back to my favorites.

All right, clearly my favorite songs are the ones you find in musicals. My secret fantasy is to walk down the street and have everyone burst into song around me, magically harmonizing and knowing the next line without having to think about it. This is The Dream.

But showtunes ain't all I listen to. I categorize my music into "showtunes" and "not showtunes". The mix I'm making straddles both of my musical worlds. I'm trying to compile tracks of showtunes sung by, for lack of a better word, "civilians"; people who are not known primarily for being Broadway or theatre singers. I have a few rules:
1. No pop artists that actually starred in the musical in question. So, for example, even if you did, for some reason, want to include a Deborah/Debbie Gibson song, you would not be permitted to have her singing anything from Cabaret, since she starred as Sally Bowles for a spell. But who didn't?
2. Only one song per tribute album. No matter how much I love Wig in a Box, the Hedwig and the Angry Inch tribute album, I have to narrow it down to one track only.
3. Nothing by singers who are known primarily for musical theatre. I may adore Bernadette Peters and the late Jerry Orbach, but they have no place on my civilians list.
4. No crap. That means nothing from Phantom. Actually, most Lloyd-Weber is out, as is anything from any of those ridiculous faux-musicals with titles like "Jekyll and Hyde" or "Footloose: The Musical". Stevie Wonder singing that bonus track from Rent is verboten. I realize this rule is highly subjective, and also, I'm a snob. That's cool, because you're hipsters, so you're not reading this anyway.

Okay. This is what I have so far:

  • Never Never Land - Todd Rundgren From Peter Pan. My friend Ade used to play this to wake me up in the morning when I would visit her in Michigan. I don't really know anything about Todd Rundgren except that he's Liv Tyler's Dad, and he produced the XTC album Skylarking, of which I am very fond. I love his strangely sweet and psychedelic take on this song. So very un-Mary Martin, which makes it delicious.
  • Summertime - The Zombies - I love The Zombies. I love this song. I vacillate back and forth between the Paul Robeson version and this one. I want to sing this song all season long. I've never seen Porgy and Bess, but this song reminds me that I probably should, at some point.
  • I Guess I'll Miss the Man - Diana Ross - One of my pet musicals is Pippin. Ben Vereen is a hero of mine, based solely on his magical performance in that show. The songs are very early Stephen Schwartz, and this song is one of my least favourites as performed by whatsherface in the Original Cast Recording (OCR), but I think Diana Ross makes it listenable. I was torn between this and her version of Corner of the Sky from said musical, but I'm pretty burned out on that song, and anyway, I like the way John Rubinstein sang it.
  • Til There Was You - The Beatles. I didn't see The Music Man until I was about 20 (again, my friend Ade) so I never realized this song came from that until then. I think Paul kicks Shirley Jones' ass up and down the street, but I don't really like her voice.
  • Tear Me Down - Spoon. OK, I don't know who Spoon is, but they do a better job with covering this than Meatloaf did. Anyway, I really do own this album, or at least I thought I did; I think my sister took it to Japan before I could rip it, so I had to make do with what I could find on Limewire. My favorite track is actually Cyndi Lauper's cover of "Midnight Radio, but I can't find that one. Boo. Kirsten, give me that CD back, willya?

So that's all I have so far. Suggestions? Anyone still here?

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Blogger Kirsten said...

Dude, I don't have it. I don't have a CD player. It's probably gathering dust with the aged P.

2:44 AM, June 06, 2007  
Blogger Kirsten said...

Oh yeah, what about JC Superstar? Does that count? Tenacious D once did a charming live rendition of "Heaven on Their Minds". You're harsh, dear one.

I'll send you an MP3 of that Cyndi Lauper song, I'm pretty sure I have it somewhere about my Ipod.

2:55 AM, June 06, 2007  
Blogger Tavie said...

Actually like JC Superstar - that's a good idea. Never heard them do Heaven on Their Minds. That's the best song from that show, anyhow. Will seek.

8:14 AM, June 06, 2007  
Blogger Matt said...

nice! I've got a semi obscure one that I've always been rather obsessed with... Carter USM's version of "The Impossible Dream". ah screw it, HERE is a link for the curious.

10:21 PM, June 06, 2007  
Blogger Kate said...

So this entry is kinda old but I found it searching around on Hype Machine.. and I don't know if this helps your quest at all but on youtube, there are a few clips of OK Go singing The Confrontation from Les Mis. I don't particularly love OK Go (slash, know any of their music at all), but I do adore Les Mis

9:57 PM, July 09, 2007  
Anonymous timmg said...

Cool idea. I'm sure there are more on my ipod, (but I'm at work with out it) but I know that the ska band Reel Big Fish does a fun cover of "Nothin' Like a Dame" from South Pacific.

Also, there is an interesting tribute album to Kurt Weill caled September Songs with a great recording of "Lost in the Stars" by Elvis Costello.

5:54 PM, October 25, 2007  
Blogger Max Jenkins said...

I LOVE this post. But the Jackson 5 did "Corner of the Sky" on the Pippin album, not the Supremes. In fact, I don't even think Diana Ross was singing lead on that track. I think one of the other girls was. (Diana gave them a rare turn.)

12:46 PM, December 24, 2009  

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