Early (for me) art songs

rainmakerResounding thanks to Randi Marrazzo, Sheryl Woods, and their voice students at Temple University, who invited me a few weeks ago to visit their class and hear my songs. They’ve been working on them throughout the year, and their work has paid off in convincing, emotionally deep readings. One or two were sung from memory, and all were performed with an artistic understanding of the music and poetry.

This was very gratifying, not the least because I wrote the songs when I was about their age; these all come from when I was 21 to 24. Some of these are still in manuscript, even though they’re being sung here and there; I must notate these properly one of these days.

They’re from different sets; “The Isle” and “Memory,” for instance, are from what I once called my Three Songs, No. 1. “Memory,” I do believe, is the earliest piece of music I’ve written (that I haven’t burned). Without looking it up I’m not sure what numbers the others are from, but I did have six sets of Three Songs (never did finish No. 6). I’ve since written many others, but these have a special place in my heart. Here’s what they’re singing:

The Isle (Percy Bysshe Shelley)
Memory (Shelley)
On Zacheus (Francis Quarles)
The Rainmaker (K.S.)
who are you, little i (E.E. Cummings)

All these songs are naive to some extent, but my music is still—in one or three respects—naive. “The Rainmaker” is inspired by the Burt Lancaster/Katharine Hepburn movie—oh, look at that, released the year I was born. Here’s my poem for it; I guess it’s obvious I was reading a bit of Cummings at the time. It was exactly at this time that I decided to give up writing poetry:

He comes from now
here andever (yw)
herespin-
spinninga dancelikea
whirlfroma -wind and
herazz ledazz
(if i’es you) and if
you lethim if you Just lethim (why)he
’lldren
ch
(y)ou inshower
sand you ’lljusT
(die) laughing.

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2 thoughts on “Early (for me) art songs

  1. David Kent-Watson

    Hey Kile, you aint bad for 57. I looked at the Damon promo on You Tube, and you have certainly stimulated my wish to see both versions of The Rainmaker.

    Best,

    David

    Reply
    1. Kile Smith Post author

      Hey 56 until August, c’mon! Thank you; don’t know the newer version of The Rainmaker. Love BL and KH (and Lloyd Bridges!), quite over-the-top.

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