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Myth Songs
  • Artist: Nick Humez
  • UPC: 783707135809
  • Item #: SRD713580
  • Genre: Folk
  • Release Date: 12/8/2009
  • This product is a special order
  • Rank: 1000000000
Price: $22.20
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Myth Songs on CD

These songs were written for the mythology course I taught at Montclair State University in New Jersey from 199 through 2005. My students repeatedly pressed me to make a proper recording of them so that people beyond our campus would get to know them too. The project would never have succeeded, however, without the production-savvy progressive dulcimerist Barbara Truex, who recruited the other musicians on this recording, with several of whom she had performed since as far back as 30 years ago, including guitarist and fiddler Vincent Pasternak, jazz pianist Pete Levin, and woodwind maven Carl Dimow, as well as some of their friends such as banjo virtuoso Eric Weissberg. This CD is a classic example of the principle that the whole is often greater than the sum of it's parts. Whether performing at a retirement community or a middle school, the question I am often asked is 'Where do you get this stuff?' The raw material comes from three principal sources, which were also coincidentally the ones I made required reading for my course: Graves's THE GREEK MYTHS COMPLETE, Hooke's MIDDLE EASTERN MYTHOLOGY, and Crossley-Holland's THE NORSE MYTHS. As for turning them to verse, I credit childhood exposure to recordings by Tom Lehrer and Woody Guthrie, and to the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. All three were rich sources of memorable lyrics set to highly singable tunes. (So were the hymns II sang in church every Sunday, over many years in a half-dozen choirs.) As a result, melody comes easily to me - indeed, for one song on this album, literally in my sleep. But the question behind the question is perhaps 'Why?' The first answer: Because it was great FUN - for me as a singer-songwriter, and for my classes as the first and intended audience. A 75-minute period, especially after lunch, can demand a lot from teacher and student alike, and there is nothing to match a snappy song when the eyes begin to glaze. (And let it be said here: Every good teacher is by nature a bit of a ham.) The second answer dawned on me only slowly, as my kids began to give me answers on exams that clearly showed they had gotten at least some of these songs by heart: It is easier to learn anything when it is set to music, probably because the information gets imported into our grey cells by not one but two pathways, and mutually-reinforcing ones at that. (A corollary: it is quite possible that other things can be taught in this way as well, such as bedrock geology and astrophysics. This is left, as they say, as an exercise for the teacher.) Of course, it helps that the stories themselves are such keepers. People have been telling them for up to 5000 years, which they wouldn't have done had the tales themselves not spoken to us on a very basic level. We may not approve of Cronus swallowing his children whole or of Clytemnestra's disastrous affair with her husband's cousin, but we cannot forget these narratives either once we've encountered them, and they are a basic part of the fabric of our civilization, along with the voyages of the Argo to retrieve the Golden Fleece or Uta-Napishtim's ark that rode out the Flood. But the nice thing about having a terrific band of old friends playing behind you is that even if the words weren't there, the music by itself would be worth listening to, just for the sound of it. Kick back, turn up the sound, and enjoy!