When I saw that Hope (Worthwhile Books) has been rereading Shakespeare, I had the sudden urge to share this, my favorite Shakespeare-set-to-music! I'd found the MP3 album Songs From the Plays (by Jason Feddy and the band Shakespeare's Fool) last year, while searching Amazon for simple songs that might familiarize my little daughters with bits of Shakespeare from an early age. And while this album isn't a preschool curriculum per se, I've certainly fallen for it-- or at least, for a set of four songs that I play over and over and over again...
Because I like them. They're unpretentious, folksy, human... It surprises me how modern the sixteenth and seventeenth-century lyrics can sound when coupled with acoustic guitar and a voice that (yes) reminds me of Bob Seger! I'm just so used to considering Shakespeare's songs as precious, the stuff of Elizabethan lutes and formal Victorian choirs... But Shakespeare's Fool interprets his lyrics as not only classics, but popular classics with mass appeal. As sung by Feddy, even this guy-with-a-lute song might have been written today:
"O Mistress Mine" from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Act II Scene iii
"O Mistress mine where are you roaming?
O stay and hear, your true love's coming,
That can sing both high and low.
Trip no further pretty sweeting.
Journeys end in lovers' meeting,
Every wise man's son doth know. . . ."
(While Feddy does add a few extra lines to form a refrain, these blend so seamlessly-- to my ear, at least--that I had to look up the original poem to confirm that, yes, they are indeed additions.)
I also love love love the bluesy rendition of "Sigh No More, Ladies"! (Really-- a blues song? It totally works!) "Hey Ho the Wind and the Rain" has more of a Celtic-folk vibe, while "Blessings on You" (from The Tempest) is warm and wistful.
....And just last week my 3-year-old looked out at a gray sky and sighed, "The rain it raineth every day." I had to smile!