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05-21-19 | Songs for Listening | Allan Gurganus

05-21-19 | Songs for Listening | Allan Gurganus

The writer Allan Gurganus picked tunes for Tuesday, May 21 at Songs for Listening. Allan is author of Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters), the collection of stories and novellas White People (LA Times Book Prize, Pen Faulkner finalist), and the novel Plays Well with Others (Lambda Literary Award finalist). His latest work, The Practical Heart: Four Novellas, won the Lambda Literary Award. These novellas, written over the past five years, have appeared in Granta and in Preservation Magazine. The title work appeared as a Folio in Harper’s and won the National Magazine Prize.

Allan has taught at Stanford, Duke, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and Sarah Lawrence. His short fiction is seen in the O’Henry Prize Collection, Best American Stories Collection, amd The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. The television version of Widow won four Emmys. A one-woman Broadway show based on Widow recently starred Ellen Burstyn.

Returned from Manhattan to live in his native NC, Allan co-founded Writers Against Jesse Helms. His political editorials often appear in the NYTimes. He was recently inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Allan's next novel is The Erotic History of a Southern Baptist Church. As widely read abroad as in his native country, Allan's work has been translated 16 sixteen languages.

John Cheever wrote, “I consider Allan Gurganus the most technically gifted and morally responsive writer of his generation.”

Here Allan's picks with his annotations:

'Knoxville: Summer of 1915' text by James Agee from his novel 'A Death in the Family', music by Samuel Barber, sung by Leontyne Price
“A textured, impassioned tone poem to American side-street longing.”

'Intermezzo Op. 117 No. 1.' by Brahms, performed by Ivo Pogorelich
“Pianist Pogorelich takes liberties by slowing the tempo indicated. But, for me, this is the greatest recording of Brahms’ masterwork. It presses regret on toward acceptance. It finds everything that’s sensuous in grief.”

'Losing My Mind' from ‘Follies’ in Concert by Stephen Sondheim, performed by Barbara Cook
“The clarion discipline of Cook’s voice might seem too suave for a song about insane-making heartbreak. But Sondheim’s haiku economy makes her sudden suicidal loneliness almost seem another reason to fall in love.”

'Ruby, My Dear' from ‘Solo Monk' by Thelonious Monk
“Born the son of a railroad lineman in my hometown, Rocky Mount, NC, Monk did for Tin Pan Alley sheet music what Braque and Picasso surgically performed when chopping Landscape and Still Life into cubes and cylinders. Monk practices shorthand, X-ray, knot-tying, bone-breaking. The madness he half-hummed is now the marrow of us all.”

'The Man That Got Away' by Harold Arlen/Ira Gershwin from 'A Star is Born', performed by Judy Garland
“Mike Nichols listed the two greatest 20th century theatrical communicators as Marlon Brando and Garland. Here she immortalizes what I consider the single finest work in the American Songbook. 'Star Is Born' director George Cukor insisted Garland attempt the solo in three different costumes on three varied sets for 27 takes over three full days. Their effort produced the seeming ease that’s always an earmark of genius.”

'A Case of You' by Joni Mitchell
“As true to her mission as Dylan is to his, Mitchell incidentally became our age’s greatest autobiographer. Her fearless wit left her allergic to mere sentiment. Instead, she chain-smokes every unfiltered emotion.

'A Case of You' finds Mitchell determined to survive having or losing Graham Nash, the love of her life. — “Oh, you are in my blood like holy wine. You taste so bitter & so sweet. Oh, I could drink a case of you, darling. And I would still be on my feet. Oh, I would still be on my feet.”

Who among us has Joni not understood, sung alive a little longer, then sent back out to try again?”

'Knoxville: Summer of 1915' text by James Agee from his novel 'A Death in the Family', music by Samuel Barber, sung by Leontyne Price
'Intermezzo Op. 117 No. 1.' by Brahms, performed by Ivo Pogorelich
'Losing My Mind' from ‘Follies’ in Concert by Stephen Sondheim, performed by Barbara Cook
'Ruby, My Dear' by Thelonious Monk from from ‘Solo Monk'
'The Man That Got Away' by Harold Arlen/Ira Gershwin from 'A Star is Born', performed by Judy Garland
'A Case of You' by Joni Mitchell from ‘Blue’


05-23-19 | Songs for Listening | Mark Katz

05-23-19 | Songs for Listening | Mark Katz

05-10-19 | Songs for Listening | Juan Souki

05-10-19 | Songs for Listening | Juan Souki