Sweatpant Sessions #3–Brighter Than Sunshine

Session number three is dedicated to Chet. I sang this one last August at a cabaret/hand-fasting ceremony hosted by my parents before our wedding a week later. I prefaced it by telling the story of a road trip we had taken together, before getting engaged, where Chet informed me that he had added a schmaltzy piece to our road trip playlist. The following is that song.

Before we get to the song, though, I should mention that playlists have always been a point of contention between the two of us. Our musical interests only intersect slightly, and only with particular artists and eras. I love stuff from the 80s; weird alt-pop (some of those choices were mentioned in the previous Sweatpant Sessions post); musical theatre; modern singer-songwriters, especially along the folk-pop divide; and anything fun and boppy. Chet likes… pretty much none of that. “Fun and boppy”? Nu-uh. Weird alt-pop? No thank you. Musical theatre? Occasionally. 80s? No frickin’ way. Chet likes a strong rhythm section; pop punk; classic rock (no, 80s rock doesn’t generally count); and the 90s (but not the fun girl and boy band 90s–the grunge 90s). At least there are some areas where our musical interests are copacetic–it helps that I’m fairly easy going about music, and can put up with mostly anything so long as it doesn’t make my ears bleed. This song is one that works for both of us–decent melody, lyrics, and vocals for me, all the 90s/early 00s vibes for Chet.

So here’s Aqualung’s “Brighter Than Sunshine.”

Sweatpant Sessions #2–Wuthering Heights

Kate Bush is one of my all-time favourite artists. I remember listening to her “The Whole Story” album on family road trips, which my parents had bought in a bout of nostalgia. 

It was also the mixed influence of Kate Bush and my dad that introduced me to Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. It was while listening to Kate Bush’s song of the same title that my dad announced the novel was one of his favourites, and being a big ol’ daddy’s girl, I immediately had to get my hands on this book. Which I ended up loving, reading multiple times throughout the years, and writing a one-woman show about.

Beyond that, Kate Bush has had an influence on me as an artist of originality and theatricality. I love the “weirdness” of her work, including the strange movie she made in the ‘90s and the amazing three-disc concert album of her “Before the Dawn” concerts a few years ago. She is one of a group of female artists who I adore for the theatrical nature of their music and the generous use of head voice (thank goodness!). Other artists in this company include Regina Spektor, Laura Nyro, and Joni Mitchell. It’s the intersection of musical theatre and pop/folk/indie songwriting that I love. It feels like music that I can really sing.

So here’s the song that started it all; Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights.”

Sweatpant Sessions–War and Peace Day!

I just finished reading Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”–yes, the 1300-page Russian epic! It took me 16 days to finish… thank you, isolation life.

This book has been on my “To Read” list for a long time, but it took a much higher place on the list after I became aware of Dave Malloy’s musical, “Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812,” which is based on a section from Book 2 of the novel. Over the course of this past week, as I’ve been nearing the end of the book, I’ve been singing through much of “The Great Comet,” and here we have a few selections from the show. 

“Dust and Ashes” is Pierre’s big song early on in Act 1; Pierre is one of the main characters in “War and Peace.” A philosopher and a bit of a drunk stuck in an unhappy marriage that he found himself sort of suckered into, he spends much of the novel searching for some sort of meaning and happiness in life. Many times he thinks he’s found it, only to be disappointed by the solution later on. The song reflects some of his early journey on this road. (You’ll have to ignore my trash page-turning near the end–my book was being uncooperative and I was far too lazy to do a second take).

“No One Else” is sung by the character Natasha, who has recently become engaged to Prince Andrei, a soldier, who says they must wait a year before they can get married, as his first wife has just died in childbirth. He goes off on a trip (sort of a “I have to find myself” kind of thing, honestly), and Natasha pines and mopes about the house for his return. Spoiler alert, though, events transpire in the musical and the wedding doesn’t end up taking place. Regardless, here is Natasha singing about her love.

The final selection I’ve done from this show is “Sonya Alone.” Sonya, Natasha’s friend and cousin, is worried because of Natasha’s relationship with the bad boy Anatole (brother of Pierre’s wife, Helene), and vows to keep her friend from making the mistake of running off with him, ruining her relationship with Andrei and possibly staining her reputation for life. I dedicate this one to all of the people who I feel the need to protect… I doubt many of them know who they are, but the dedication stands.

*This post is the unofficial first in my “Sweatpant Sessions” series. The reasoning for the title should be obvious–these were all recorded at home in my den while I am sporting my quarantine uniform… except I’ve put a shirt on for all of the recordings.