CBC Musical Keys Signature Series

A week ago, I stumbled across an award winning series on CBC Radio which I absolutely loved! It was a called the Signature Series, and comprised of 5 minute podcasts about each musical key. Each podcast is a poetic narrative about the persona represented by that key, beautifully done by  Paolo Pietropaolo, over mostly famous classical music all composed in that key.

You can listen to the series via the CBC websites, or on SoundCloud, where you can “collect” them by Likes or into playlists. However, the SoundCloud free account was so freakingly limited for what you could do with building playlists, especially for this day and age, that I’ve decided I’ll collect them here on my blog for reference, and to share with others.

Here are the podcasts of all the keys, from C to B like on a keyboard, alternating between major and minor keys. Enjoy!

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Complete This Phrase: “Everything I Needed to Learn About Life, I Learned…”

Have you ever seen one of those statements, articles, or even books that touts all of life’s lessons being contained in something? Often, it’s some passion someone has, like marathon running, or some show or movie. Sometimes it’s in a relationship or person, whether it’s one with your dog, or a hero/heroine you look up to.

For a future quote to point to some fun references, I’m wondering if you’d mind leaving a comment and completing the phrase Everything I needed to learn about life, I learned…

You don’t need to explain it if you don’t want to. That would likely be rather long, I would think, because there’s a LOT to learn about life! But if you want to, you go for it.

I’m not going to explain my choice much other than to say, go see it and think hard, over and over again, about all the many things said, situations presented, solutions developed. And also think about all the things not said, or done, but perhaps implied. So my answer is Continue reading

Guitar and Ukulele Tabs for Blowin’ in the Wind, in 3 Keys (Bob Dylan)

Bob Dylan

Blowin’ in the Wind is a Bob Dylan classic that is not only simple in its chording, but can also be played in 3 different keys without needing any difficult chords or capo. That means no bar chords, or even chords requiring 4 fingers! You can play and sing it in the keys of A, D or G, depending on where you vocal range lies.

Or you can do it in all three keys as I have arranged and shown in the video below! You play and sing each verse in a progressively higher key as the urgency grows in the lyrics. Notes are included in the printable guitar and ukulele tab PDFs below the video.

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I Need 2 Go 2 NY CT 2 C Avenue Q

avenueq1I owe this post to my friend Holly Bartlett, who told me about the 2003 Tony Award Musical of the Year called Avenue Q. The musical’s content that is talked about here, though, has serious potentially offensive content so this is your one and only warning. If you don’t have an edgy sense of humour, please don’t read on. There are plenty of other good things to read about on this blog.

I’ve liked Broadway and musicals for a long time now, but I was and still am quite “old skool” at it, loving the Rodgers & Hammerstein stuff. I have heard of, and love, some more modern stuff like Chicago, Wicked and Jekyll & Hyde. However, I need to pay closer attention to what Broadway is putting out each year if they’ve got stuff which doesn’t get a lot of attention as some of their other shows, but still is great, like Avenue Q.

Avenue Q is a modern Sesame Street parody of similar characters trying to find a purpose in life when things aren’t going so well in adulthood after college. I can’t write a better plot summary than Wikipedia so I won’t try, but I like the description by one of its actors of “Sesame Street done South Park“. The show features a neat visual of real characters and puppets with their masters visible, something I’d like to try and learn one day for fun, and some seriously edgy humour and content.

Below is a medley of some songs in it, played for the Queen of England at the Royal Variety Performance, no less! That’s the one contestants on Britain’s Got Talent were vying to be a part of. So despite Avenue Q‘s potentially offensive content, the Royals proved they could handle it. Good on them!


The actual full musical has swearing in it, all kinds of soft and hard innuendos, even nude puppet sex! Other than songs like It Sucks to Be Me [lyrics] shown as part of a medley above, you also have songs (links are to lyrics) like

With a list of songs with titles like that, and others, better lyrics and even better music, who could resist seeing a show like this?

Ah, but it gets better with the Web and user-generated content. The Sesame Street parody has generated a whole bunch of parody Sesame Street videos of this musical, like the one below which I found just hilarious! The music is the actual music from the musical. Someone just adapted video for it from Sesame Street clips.


There are also versions with everything from Sponge Bob to The Mutant Teenage Ninja Turtles to Disney cartoons! A whole night’s worth of humour from clicking on video responses to each of these videos!

And then there’s If You Were Gay with Bert and Ernie, my favourite characters on Sesame Street who were parodied to be gay in 1997. Avenue Q ran with this to put it into its story with its equivalent characters to Ernie and Bert. So someone then had to have made the parody video with the original music and Sesame Street video clips of Bert and Ernie.


Other songs have parody videos, too!

But in all fairness to Avenue Q, it addresses many tough issues of today like homosexuality, pornography and racism.


If you can’t stomach edgy humour and content, then this show would not be for you. You would not be normal in this, though, because this show is the 21st longest running show in Broadway history at the time of this writing (Jun 11 2009).

As for me, I have never visited New York City, but this might be enough impetus to get me there for a visit and viewing! Before I go, though, I’ve saved the best number, in my humble opinion, for last. Mix Tape isn’t outrageous or anything, aside from a few words, but it is funny. The best part of it is how well it was sung on the recording, shown in the “video” below. There’s actually no “video”, just an image, so read on and listen for all the little things mentioned to listen for.

Julie Atherton, played Kate Monster and sang Mix Tape. She also plays a very different character of Lucy the Slut in the same show (see London performance 2nd from top). But for Mix Tape, Julie had my emotions like a yo-yo on a string with all the nuances she puts into singing the lyrics that also goes up and down emotionally like a roller coaster. Julie acts the song through her singing, basically. All the little gasps, squeaks, sighs, inflections and such not written into the score, and especially how giddily she said he likes me! at the end. Credits to the songwriter/s as well for such a great tune, but I’ve heard so many bad renditions on YouTube, and in singing songs otherwise, that the performer gets huge kudos here. It might possibly the best example of how to perform a song I have ever heard! I mean that for all those nuances, not some booming grand voice sort of best sung description, but that’s the tougher accolades to be getting, in my books. If you were to ask me how I liked that recording, I’d say I love it! pretty much the way Julie squeaks he likes me! at the end of the song! 🙂

Post-scriptum:

It is almost a year later from when I first posted this, now May 31 2010, and how things have changed. Sadly, it’s not been for the good, but I want to make mention as a dedication. I did just get to see Avenue Q a week ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, I watched it in memory of my friend Holly who had since passed away. I will always remember her for introducing me to this play, among many other reasons. Then, just a few days ago, Gary Coleman died on May 28. The show just wouldn’t be the same knowing he isn’t in the real world any more. I wonder how they’re handling the situation, but I’m glad I got to see Avenue Q without this circumstance surrounding it as it wouldn’t have felt the same for me.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.3

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Someone Should Write a Wolverine Musical

If you’re not aware, Hugh Jackman is an incredibly talented actor with skills beyond acting like real singing and dancing skills. He has starred in musicals such as Oklahoma! (video) and The Boy from Oz (video from 2004 Tony Awards). However, my favourite example can be seen in his 2009 Oscars opening that he gave while hosting because he goes through so many characters, in musical format rather than their regular movie format (starting at 2:00 in video).

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Hugh Jackman as Wolverine

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine

Currently, Hugh Jackman is arguably most well-known for his role as the X-men mutant Wolverine. The character was so well played and so loved by fans from original X-men trilogy of movies that it got its own movie, just released at time of posting. It’s a part Hugh played so stunningly it will be hard to imagine anyone else doing it. He really owns that role.

In terms of character, Wolverine is a rough on the edges, fearsome sort of character with many animal instincts and behaviours true to his name. It is quite the antithesis to anything most people associate with the fine art form of musical theatre. It is precisely because of this polarity that Hugh Jackman is truly able to show how talented an actor he is. He can really cover both ends of the acting spectrum well, finesse to rough, animal to human, action, drama, song, dance, and everything in between. Ironically, though, despite the respect he gets and deserves for this, there has also been jokes about him starring in a musical called Wolverine. Seems the people who joke about it thinks that if such a musical were made, it’d have Wolverine making a mockery of himself. However,  I beg to differ.

I think superhero comic book stories are very well suited to musical theatre! For one thing, where can you write in more drama than in a superhero comic book story? It’s like exaggerated fiction given super powers, where the heroes and villains are both larger than grand! With comic book stories, every subplot can be epic! In fact, you can probably make every musical number epic if you had a writers talented enough to write that many memorable numbers in a musical. That’s because you can expand every type of human emotion, ritual, value and such beyond the boundaries of what humans, society, the natural world and universe, can be expected to do in regular fiction or nonfiction.

For many, the doubts over a comic book superhero musical are really over the stage and musical theatre’s form to convincingly portray the supernatural elements and serious intense drama in comic books. That is, can the stage suit the comics rather than the comics suit the stage? Well, I say an equally convincing yes. There have been very dramatic and serious musicals portraying thriller and horror type stories that did not exactly extract laughs or make a mockery out of their heroes and villains, with technology nothing like they have for the theatre stage today. The Phantom in Phantom of the Opera is no mockery of a character even on a musical stage. The story of the demon barber Sweeney Todd has also been adapted into a musical of the same name. It was a musical thriller, no less, and won a Tony Award in 1979, no less. The famous story of Jekyll & Hyde has also been well adapted to theatre, with two songs that could well have been in a superhero comic book musical. This is the Moment primes for the ultimate of ultimate moments, well sung below by Robert Cuccioli.

Meanwhile, Someone Like You is about as nice a love by chance song as you’ll find. Linda Eder, who sang it on Broadway as part of the Jekyll & Hyde production, sings it below with her real life husband and the song’s writer, Frank Wildhorse, in a PBS Special. This is real life love and magic in music.

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What exists with Hugh Jackman being such a great screen and musical actor, with a comic superhero part he’s made his own, is an opportunity for a superhero comic book that might not ever occur any time soon. To that realization, I’m really hoping someone will work on a Wolverine musical. It shouldn’t be the kinds of “jokes” you see below, which I love as humour, but in which I also see the potential for what could be. The first is of some guy spoofing Wolverine in a musical, but has some more serious moments.

The second is Hugh Jackman, himself, doing Wolverine the musical with action figures in an interview (3:50 into the video)! I can’t believe hardly anyone has seen this video (under 1000 at time of posting)! Sure, he’s humouring the reporter but it seems to me he’s game, and that’s not the type of material I’m thinking about. And hey, if Hugh’s game, I say what are we waiting for?

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 10.1