Our friends and colleagues Dan and Claudia Zanes have been releasing Social Isolation Songs during the pandemic. We asked them for a song list of tunes that are inspiring them, here are their picks and thoughts. Happy Listening!
Nostalgie, Leon Domanche: This song defined Leon's career and holds deep meaning for several generations of people in the Haitian Diaspora. I went to his 70th birthday at a church in Brooklyn and he sounded even better than he did in this recording….when will the world catch up with him? The reason I include this is because it’s my perfect combination: high emotion presented in a homespun, artful, sophisticated style. (Dan)
I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free, Nina Simone:This anthem speaks to the Black struggle. Nina Simone found so many ways to call for a life in which she didn’t have to be looking over her shoulder all the time. Of all of her freedom songs, this is the one that hits me the hardest. (Claudia)
Great Change, Troy Ramey and the Soul Searchers: Troy Ramey was a house painter when he was heard singing this song one day at work. He and his band were quickly signed to Nashboro Records. This was their first record. It’s got everything I like about the Christian life: community, spontaneity, mystery, joy, and good direction. Every band member and singer is playing with absolute freedom but there’s a complete cohesion to the sound. (Dan)
Love Will Come to You, The Indigo Girls: I appreciate this song for its positive message. It speaks to the idea that we are all worthy of giving and receiving love. The Indigo Girls have it all: powerful lyrics, gorgeous harmonies, and indelible melodies. People don’t always look at me and think “Indigo Girls fan” but I am, hardcore. (Claudia)
Four Strong Winds, Ian and Sylvia: When I was a kid living in Canada, Ian and Sylvia were our Beatles. The sound of the male and female voice together filled my heart. I always thought that this would be the ultimate type of musical group to be in but over time that vision faded. The day I met Claudia, we sang together for hours and I knew that the dream of the two voices in harmony (and in love) was coming true. And I was right. (Dan)
Sista, Rachelle Ferrell: I love Rachelle’s artistry. She graduated from my alma mater, Berklee College of Music. I heard stories about how many of the professors weren’t impressed with the way she sang but she stayed true to her craft and went on to make a huge name for herself. This song is all about feminine power, I can dig that. (Claudia)
Today I Started Loving You Again (outtake), Buck Owens and Bettye Swann: Interracial music making isn’t all that common in 2020. We’ll go out on a limb and suggest not too many of us are thinking it would have happened much in 1969, especially in country music, but here we go. This song is on the list because a) it’s just as emotional as music can get, and b) it lives happily outside of musical and societal boundaries - just like us. (Dan + Claudia)
Kurt Weill: Interpretations was curated by the CAP UCLA Education team, as part of the pre-show activities for the opera Lost in the Stars, composed by Kurt Weill. The tracks on this list feature songs by Kurt Weill as interpreted by various artists, plus an additional track of interest. Some highlights: there a few versions of Weill's signature tune, "Mac The Knife" (check out the Tiger Lillies' contemporary take); we've also included a number of interpretations of "Alabama Song" or "Whisky Bar," made popular by The Doors (including a super surreal version by David Bowie); and there are 4 versions of "September Song," that Weill wrote with Maxwell Anderson, his collaborator on "Lost in the Stars." The last two tracks are noteworthy, Felix Mendelssohn was not a contemporary of Weill or even composing in the same idiom, but the Nazi’s also viewed his work as “degenerate” and “tainted” — the same classification they imposed on Kurt Weill, who fled Germany in 1933. Shortly after Hitler seized power, Kurt Weill wrote, “I consider what is going on here to be so sickening that I cannot imagine it lasting more than a couple of months...” Weill left Germany shortly thereafter with dozens of other artists. The last track is from Tom Waits, and it's vintage Tom! He’s at his snarly, gravelly best on this cover of the Weill/Brecht masterpiece from Threepenny Opera.
What keeps mankind alive?
The fact that millions are daily tortured
Stifled, punished, silenced and oppressed
Mankind can keep alive thanks to its brilliance
In keeping its humanity repressed
And for once you must not try to shriek the facts
—Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill