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A Garret of Old Playthings

"Antique Toys" by Beth Dix.
Used by permission of the artist. www.bethdixart.com

Five Carl Sandburg songs, full of wistfulness, gumption and glee
Winner of the National Federation of Music Clubs Devora Nadworney Award
Poet/Lyricist: 
Carl Sandburg

In the two reminiscences which frame this set, A Garret of Old Playthings and Even the Moon Remembers, the blurred outlines of memory are reflected in Sandburg's enigmatic lyrics and shadowy piano accompaniment.  In the central song, Changing Light Winds, the soprano's linear serenity soars above the piano's restless waves of sound.  The poet's wry wit is evident in God is No Gentleman and Spring Grass, which are as mischievous and irregular musically as they are poetically.

I. A Garret of Old Playthings
II. God Is No Gentleman
III. Changing Light Winds
IV. Spring Grass
V. Even the Moon Remembers

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A Garret of Old Playthings

Carl Sandburg

I. Upstairs

I too have a garret of old playthings.
I have tin soldiers with broken arms upstairs.
I have wagons with the wheels gone upstairs.
I have guns and a drum, and a jumping jack and a magic lantern.
And dust is on them, and I never look at them upstairs.
I too have a garret of old playthings.

 
II. God is No Gentleman

God gets up in the morning
   and says, "Another day?"
God goes to work every day
   at regular hours.
God is no gentleman, for God puts
   on overalls and gets dirty
   running the universe we know
   about and several other universes
   nobody knows about but Him.

 
III. Changing Light Winds

Changing light winds
blew over the sea,
came blue, came gold,
came silver with spray,
came white in dreamsnow
with long foam feathers,
long sleepy snowfalls,
then gray over the flats
an overcast of monotone--
night and stars a while
then night and no stars.

 
IV. Spring Grass

Spring grass, there is a dance to be danced for you.
Come up, spring grass, if only for young feet.
Come up, spring grass, young feet ask you.

Smell of the young spring grass,
You're a mascot riding on the wind horses.
You came to my nose and spiffed me.

This is your lucky year.
Young spring grass just after the winter,
Shoots of the big green whisper of the year,
Come up, if only for young feet.
Come up, young feet ask you.

 
V. I Sang

I sang to you and the moon
But only the moon remembers.
   I sang
O reckless free-hearted
                  free-throated rhythms,
Even the moon remembers them
   and is kind to me.

Composer's Note: 

This is the earliest work in my catalog — open-hearted songs which always remind me of my friend Janet Youngdahl, for whom they were written.

Performers: 

 Complete Work:

Janet Youngdahl and Elizabeth Alexander ~ The College of Wooster  * Premiere

Susan Craft and Genevieve Jones ~ University of Wisconsin-Madison

Cheryl Coker and Gail Olszewski ~ University of Minnesota

Janet Youngdahl and Vivian Montgomery ~ Vanderbilt University

 

 

Selections:

Harriet McCleary and Jason Alfred ~ Bloomington Center for the Arts (Bloomington, MN)

Kristen Park and Elizabeth Alexander ~ Woman's Works Concert (Ithaca, NY)

Linda Larson and Christopher Morgan Loy ~ CRS Barn Studio (Ithaca, NY)

 

 

 

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