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Afterglow Jazz and American Popular Song

Literary Figures In Popular Song

Authors like Dorothy Parker, Ogden Nash, Jack Kerouac, and Kazuo Ishiguro all have connections to jazz and the Great American Songbook.

In the Great American Songbook, most of the lyricists you encounter—Ira Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein, Dorothy Fields, Sammy Cahn—spent their lives doing just that: writing lyrics to popular songs. However, there are a few times when literary figures outside of the world of popular music penned an occasional song or two, and here I’m thinking of Langston Hughes, Dorothy Parker, and Truman Capote. On this program, I’ll explore the cross between literature and song in American popular music.

I’ll feature songs in the Great American Songbook with lyrics by notable authors, like “A Sleepin’ Bee” (Capote), “I Wished On The Moon” (Parker), and “Lonely House” (Hughes). We’ll also hear more modern vocal jazz adaptations of the works of Jack Kerouac and Theodore Roethke. Plus, we’ll hear one of the songs written for singer Stacey Kent by Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro, and I’ll feature a pop-song adaptation of a short story by author Thomas Mann, sung by Peggy Lee

Music Heard On This Episode

Mark Chilla

Mark Chilla, originally from Atlanta, GA, is the Production Director at WFIU, where he also hosts Ether Game and Afterglow. He studied music theory at Indiana University and taught various music theory courses at IU and Butler University. He enjoys film, woodworking, learning new instruments and the Beatles.

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