Mary Birdsong

April26th


I didn’t even realize until after I started recording this little project that Israel Kamakawiko’ole died back in 1997. And that made me sad. But I’m so grateful he left his now famous recording behind as his legacy.  For my money, it’s the only recording that captures the essence of everything the song is.

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  • It captures the song itself- a gorgeous composition that is so familiar to us now that it’s easy to forget that two men actually sat down at a piano and wrote it!  They just plain made it up out of thin air! This delicate yet powerful composition by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg has remained not only relevant to today’s ears, but necessary.
  • It captures Judy Garland’s original recording of the composition back in the  1930s – she was only about 13 or 14 when she committed it to vinyl- and it captured her interpretation of the song at that age; the innocence of it- a heartfelt daydream of a simple farm girl. Even in LIVE recordings from that time, her vocal is flawless… tempering all of her unmistakable vocal power with the delicate vibration of what sounds like what I imagine angels’ wings would sound like fluttering from cloud to cloud.  I can’t think of many vocalists today (especially young ones) who have the ability to actually HOLD BACK a little bit in a song.  And Judy had that.  Today’s recording artists, for the most part, are all so bombastic.  Every singer comes out shouting more insistently than the last one and pelting the listener with so many riffs and “fingerpainting” trills that it feels a little like the boy who cried wolf.    Nothing is important or meaningful because everything is important and meaningful.  You know? Judy would hold back… she’d reign herself in, and then BAM!  She’d punch you in the gut with her power by the end.  But it meant something.  It was special.  It was EARNED.
  • It even captures Judy Garland’s late interpretations of the song: as a middle aged (and damned tired) woman who’d been through it all and then some, Judy approached the song much differently than in her early Micky & Judy years, naturally.  She was broken now.  She approached it as someone who’d obviously TRIED LIKE HELL to get over the rainbow, but failed.  Yet still hoped.  Still daydreamed.  But this was no longer the daydream of a Kansas virgin on a farm.  This was the daydream of someone who desperately needed to believe she could still do it. Even if she knew deep down she never would.

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