Thursday, November 11, 2010



We managed to pull together a nice little concert session--about 20 minutes all told--last night.

There were three sections to the larger performance. First, a classical guitarist, then my songs, then a cello/piano Sonata.

I sang seven Robert Louis Stevenson poems set to music:   The Swing, Pirate Story, Where Go the Boats, The Land of Nod, Foreign Lands, The Wind, and Windy Nights.  All but Windy Nights were from a songbook published in 1897--The Stevenson Song-Book.  (Sorry, no Land of Counterpane this time.)

There is an interesting history behind my copy of the book.  One day, at church, I found a battered copy of it in the choir room.  My choir director/accompanist and I tried a few of the pieces, liked them, and ended up performing a couple at a church dinner.

But the page with one of the songs was ripped out, so I decided I'd try to find my own, complete copy of the book.

It took nearly two years of searching by a rare book company to find a copy for me.  As I recall it cost over $100, but I was really determined, so I bit the bullet and bought the book.  I've never regretted it as the songs are just wonderful.  I've since seen the same book online in a few rare book sources for five times as much as I paid.

So far, we've just performed the six songs, but I would like to expand that and learn a few more.  The melodies and style really suit my voice and every time we perform them, people really seem to enjoy it.  Last night was no exception with warm response and many flattering comments afterwards.

It did help that the audience was in a senior citizen center--although the group was mixed. But a lot of the people there had been brought up on the poems, so that added to the fun.

Some of the songs might not relate to children today, I fear, but that certainly does not take away from the idea of presenting them to a younger audience. Aside from a few dated references, Stevenson's poems relate to a child's capacity to wonder about the world and venture into fantasy and imagination.

I mean, what can be more an example of a child's "Why?" in this poem, The Wind? It's one of my favorites from the collection of songs.

 The Wind
saw you toss the kites on high 
And blow the birds about the sky; 
And all around I heard you pass, 
Like ladies’ skirts across the grass— 
  O wind, a-blowing all day long,         5
  O wind, that sings so loud a song! 
I saw the different things you did, 
But always you yourself you hid. 
I felt you push, I heard you call, 
I could not see yourself at all—  10
  O wind, a-blowing all day long, 
  O wind, that sings so loud a song 
O you that are so strong and cold, 
O blower, are you young or old? 
Are you a beast of field and tree,  15
Or just a stronger child than me? 
  O wind, a-blowing all day long, 
  O wind, that sings so loud a song:
Perhaps, eventually, I can get a recording of my singing this posted, but we'll see.   In the meantime, I had fun, we did well, and the audience enjoyed it.  What more can I ask?


  1. Anonymous2:53 PM

    Sounds like great fun, and fun for those who were listening too!

  2. It sounds like a lovely night and I'm sure it was much appreciated by the audience. Love the Wind song, it's beautiful. I'd never heard it before.

  3. I would love to hear this song. It sounds fun and original.