This lovely piece of music from Offenbach’s opera The Tales of Hoffmann always reminds me of the Coves del Drach in Mallorca where visitors can experience an underground concert with musicians playing violins, cellos and a harmonium as they row across the subterranean lake. The barcarolle has its origins in Venice and is traditionally sung by gondoliers. The barcarolle is normally in the 6/8 time signature and speed is dictated by the gondolier’s stroke as the gondola moves through the water.
Today’s song, Gente di Mare (“people of the sea”) dates from 1987 when it was performed by Umberto Tozzi and Raff as the Italian entry in the Eurovision Song Contest. It contrasts the life of the “people of the plains” and the “people of the city” who don’t have the freedom of the “people of the sea”. In case you wanted to know… It didn’t win the contest that year – Johnny Logan’s Hold Me Now was the 1987 runaway winner – but did become a top 10 hit in most of continental Europe.
Today I’m playing a Coldplay classic, Viva la Vida. In Spanish it can mean either “live the life” or “long live life”, and it the song was inspired by a Frida Kahlo painting. The artist had suffered considerable pain through polio and a broken spine, but nevertheless embraced life, inscribing the words “Viva La Vida” on one of her most well-known paintings.
There’s a huge amount of energy in this song, helped by the strings arrangement which keeps it moving at a fairly fast pace. I may have run away with myself a bit in this one, but I hope you enjoy it anyway!
A nice, cheery song today – When You’re Smiling, originally made famous by Louis Armstrong in 1929, but since recorded by hundreds of artists. It’s apparently the official song of football club Leicester City and one of the strangest performances of the song is from the 1995 Woody Allen film Mighty Aphrodite when it’s performed by a Greek chorus at the end of the film! I hope this song brings a smile to you this Saturday morning!
Today’s song is dedicated to a special friend, Joan Herald, who celebrates her birthday today! Every time I hear Cher’s Believe I think of Joan as it is one of her many karaoke favourites!
Recorded in 1998 the song went to #1 all over the world. This song was groundbreaking in using the Auto-Tune effect. The recording engineers were experimenting with effects on the lead vocal track and the producer, Mark Taylor, said that “this was the most nerve-wracking part of the project, because I wasn’t sure what Cher would say when she heard what I’d done to her voice”, but that when she heard it she said, “It sounds great.” When her record company requested that the effect be removed, she responded, “Over my dead body!” Of course, following the huge success of Believe, Auto-Tune became very popular and it is often referred to as the “Cher effect”.
Today I’m playing Sandy from the musical Grease. It’s sung by Danny Zuko about his girlfriend Sandy Dumbrowski who has just left him alone at the Drive-In movie theatre. Last night my 10 year-old son sang this song at his “Night at the Musicals” school concert and did a brilliant job! Proud daddy 🙂
Today’s song is a special song. It’s dedicated to Ewan’s guinea pig, Barry, who died this morning. Given his very cool hairdo, he was named after the hairiest Bee Gee, Barry Gibb, so with Ewan’s permission I’ve played To Love Somebody song in honour of our own wee Barry.
Walking in Memphis song dates from 1991 and was Marc Cohn’s biggest hit, peaking at #13 on the Billboard chart. Cohn described it as a biographical song, recounting a trip to Graceland and reflecting his own feelings about religion. Cher released a version of the song as her first solo European single release in 1995 and it peaked at #11 in the UK charts.
Ombra Mai Fu, this beautiful aria from the Handel opera Serse has had an interesting story. Known commonly in its instrumental version as “Handel’s Largo” it was first written as an aria for a castrato in which the main character, Xerxes I of Persia, admired the shade of a plane tree:
Ombra mai fu
cara ed amabile,
(Never was a shade of any plant dearer and more lovely, or more sweet.)
On Christmas Eve 1906, Canadian inventor and radio pioneer Reginald Fessenden broadcast the first AM radio programme in which he played a phonograph recording of Ombra Mai Fu, followed by his own performance of Oh Holy Night on the violin. This makes Ombra Mai Fu the first piece of music to be broadcast on the radio!