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.