Alone again, naturally

Last month, I relocated to Milwaukee from the Washington, D.C. area. Surprisingly, given the rare gift of unemployment I’ve been enjoying, this is my first post-move post.

Or not so surprising, since I’m not yet making music with anyone here. That’s not untypical for me. It took me two years in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois to first play out as the Viper act. And four years in Maryland to luck into the Paint Branch Ramblers. I never really got anything together during my two years in Turkey, apart from one two-song set at the Faculty Club Christmas talent show (I played “The Lawson Family Murder,” and “Daddy’s Drinking Up Our Christmas”), and one faculty party at which I played/sang “Too Much Heaven On Their Minds” from Jesus Christ Superstar on a borrowed saz.

In any case, it’s always a good opportunity to let the barrel fill itself back up. So to celebrate my refound love of self, here’s a solo recording of the Viper playing “Pennies from Heaven,” taken from the Everything for Everyone CD.

download “Pennies from Heaven” as an mp3

As far as I can remember, this was recorded in a single take using just the room mic we’d set up to get “coverage” sound of the whole band. Jay Bennett is doing the engineering/producing.

That stuff you don’t recognize at the beginning is the verse of this 1936 Johnny Burke and Arthur Johnston standard. You don’t hear the verse much. But Vernel Bagneris lip synchs to the 1937 Arthur Tracy recording of it in the great 1981 film of Pennies from Heaven. And Steve Martin actually sings it at the end of the movie, just before he’s hung. I learned it — since I’d never heard it anyhere else — by rewinding these two scenes over and over.

It’s a nice little piece, and here’s the lyrics if you want to sing along:

A long time ago, a million years B.C.
The best things in life were absolutely free
But no one appreciated a sky that was always blue
And no one congratulated a moon that was always new
So it was planned that they would vanish now and then
And you must pay before you get them back again
That’s what storms were made for
And you shouldn’t be afraid, for…

Every time it rains, it rains pennies from heaven
Don’t you know each cloud contains pennies from heaven
You’ll find your fortune falling all over town
Be sure that your umbrella is upside down
Trade them for a package of sunshine and flowers
If you want the things you love, you must have showers
So when you hear it raining, don’t run under a tree
There’ll be pennies from heaven for you…
Pennies from heaven for me…
Pennies from heaven for you and me

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