Great Moments in Music 001 - "Every Day a Little Death"

  1. Hello -

    Besides being a nurse, I'm also a musician and composer which usually takes second or third place in my life. However, having some music background allows me the opportunity to enjoy a LOT of great music found in an almost endless list of genres and styles of music. From rock to jazz to country to classical to (even) Broadway Musicals, I hope to share some really well-written compositions that are well-crafted at least to my modest ears. I titled this thread "Great Moments in Music 001" in hopes to provide other examples of great music as time allows and interest is shown. I hope that others share their favorite tunes as well.

    The title of this particular tune is, "Every Day a Little Death". It's from the musical-comedy, A Little Night Music. Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics and music to this show. It's been performed on Broadway at least a few times. The musical won a number of awards. Other theaters throughout the world have produced this musical. I even helped produced this music many years ago when I acted as Co-Musical Director for a small, local community theater.

    Of course the music is beautiful. But the lyrics are both stunning and brilliant. From the rhyming scheme to the story being told in this song (and the entire musical), Stephen Sondheim demonstrates his command of the English language and craftsmanship as a composer. Please take special note of the lyrics. "Every Day a Little Death" is sung by two women whose husbands have cheated on them. As they sing this song, they share their emotion of being betrayed by their husbands. For one character, the betrayal has been both long-lasting and quite open and obvious. Her husband did not hide the fact that he sought the "pleasure" of other women.

    This particular production that's being shared is not from a produced musical of the show, A Little Night Music. Rather, it's from a television show that show-cased songs written by Stephen Sondheim. I chose to share this particular Youtube video because it provided the clearest sound for listening. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. If anyone is even remotely interested in the craft of writing lyrics, I hope that this tune satisfies you.

    I appreciate craftsmanship, whether it's music, painting, sewing, wood-working, metal-working, etc., etc.. At least to my modest ears, this song demonstrates the craftsmanship of song-writing at the highest level. Enjoy.


    Last edit by Joe V on Dec 20, '16
  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   Ted
    A comment or two to ponder. . .

    When you listen to the melody and harmony of "Every Day a Little Death", notice the key and overall feel?? Overall, it's in a "major" key which is generally recognized as being a relatively "happy" sound. Yet, the lyrics are all but "happy". Here's where I see the craftsmanship in composing this particular piece. At first listen (without paying too much attention to the lyrics), it sounds, well, "happy". Certainly the music isn't in gloomy, sad, defeated. The lyrics, on the other hand, lets you know just how these hurting wives feel (gloomy, sad, defeated; numb like death).

    Within the show, you see that these wives puts on an "all is well" facade of sorts. It was expected of them back in the time period of the show. (It seems that similar expectations are held on the spouses who've been cheated by their partners today, especially the spouses with partners who hold public positions.) It can be said that the music signifies this "happy facade". The lyrics go beyond that facade and tell the hidden, true tale. "Every day a little death. In the parlor in the bed." It doesn't get much gloomier than what the lyrics describe.

    All of this, in my mind, make for great craftsmanship. Stephen Sondheim is just brilliant in my eyes. I hope you don't mind the analysis. It's how I think when I get to know a musical piece deeply.

    I'm going to start searching for another piece of music to share. In the meanwhile, if YOU have something to share that brings YOU much meaning, please post it and tell why the music grabs you in a significant manner.

    Happy Listening, folks!

    Last edit by Ted on Apr 7, '14
  4. by   herring_RN
    Do you like trumpet? Piano?
    Listen to this and then read about it here:
    Louis (Satchmo) Armstrong and Earl (Fatha) Hines.

  5. by   Ted
    I'm not a Louis Armstrong expert, but I've always enjoyed hearing his playing. He could make that trumpet sing! I believe that he was one of the earlier pioneers of modern jazz. It's great music! And, its a great find, herring_RN!!
  6. by   Ted
    Speaking of great modern-jazz trumpet players, here's a video of Miles Davis and his group playing "Pinocchio". It's from the album titled, "Nefertiti" which is one of my favorite modern jazz albums. I just LOVE the energy these jazz musicians create while playing together. You can tell that they listen to each other intently. There's lots of great jazz improvisation heard on this tune (and on the whole album). Despite the "loose" playing and the "loosely spaced" improvisation, there still remains a unique cohesiveness which, in my mind, helps make this a brilliantly performed jazz piece. Hope you enjoy!

  7. by   herring_RN

    My Dad was a trumpet player. He said Miles was a genius. I heard him live at UCLA. It was very disturbing.
    My theory is that he was so able to convey emotion through music that some of the listeners felt his disturbed and angry feelings.

    I was recently told, "You have to separate the man from the music" with regard to a fine musician who was blatenly cheating on his wife.
    With Miles and other great talents the person and the music are melded.

    With Louis Armstrong his music conveyed optomism and love of life.

    My Daddy has a trumpet solo at 1:21. I was two years old when this was filmed.

  8. by   TopazLover
    Thank you for sharing. What a treasure you have. Great music.
  9. by   herring_RN
    Several of us nurses attended an event. There was music before the speakers. A wonderful nurse who has a masters before 30, speaks three languages fluently, sews his own scrub shirts, is a great cook, already bought a condo, is loved by patients and co-workers, and smiles a lot said, "I'll go look at the lobby across the street. I don't notice music.

    To me this is a handicap, but he doesn't miss it. he ignores music!

    He is wonderful, king, and happpy without enjoying music.
  10. by   Ted
    herring_RN -

    THAT is a cool video!! i LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Big Band music. Love the instrument-choreography; very funny stuff going on there! And the music??? Great stuff!! I believe that I've heard this version of "In the Mood" before on some recording. At the very least, I've heard this particular version of this Big Band arrangement before. Thoroughly enjoyed listening to your Dad's trumpet solo, herring_RN!!! Finding this YouTube video must have been like finding gold!! Are there other video and/or audio recordings of the your dad playing? Thank You for sharing this!!!

    Every so often I run into individual who simply don't like to listen to music, or at least are not moved by music. I'm at a loss to explain why this might be so!

    A long, long time ago, I very briefly worked with an individual who (at that time) was employed at a special center for people who are both blind and deaf in the Boston area. She had me play music, LOUDLY, on an old upright piano. While I was playing, a group of about 5 or 6 individuals were standing and near-hugging the piano while I was playing. They were "dancing" to the vibration of the music. They seemed to be enjoying themselves. It was a very cool experience for me (I was around 23 years old then). Music, or at least the vibrations of music, can be literally felt and appreciated by even deaf people if given the opportunity!!! Never underestimate the power of music!

    Regarding Miles Davis - If memory serves me correctly, he was a be-bopper during his early years, playing and improvising over fast-tempoed tunes. I would describe his improvisational style, during his later years (like what's heard during "Pinocchio") as calculatingly sparse and somewhat aggressive. Maybe another way to describe it would be, "angry". I love his style of improvisation (I love his entire album, Nefertiti!). He's made his mark in the music world and I'm glad to have heard and appreciated at least a few of his tunes.
  11. by   herring_RN
    The "In The Mood" video was with Tex Beneke. Glenn Miller and tex were in the Air Force during WWII as was my Dad. The band had two parts. When the half with Glenn Miller went overseas the Tex Beneke half stayed in the States. Because his brother had been shot down and killed over Italy my Dad did not go. (Like in "Saving Private Ryan, the military didn't send a mother's only surviving son. Miller and the band died in a plane crash, the other half of the band, including my Dad survived)

    My Dad sat next to Roy Eldridge in the Krupa orchestra. His solo on "In The Mood" shows Roy's influence on his improvisational style.

    My sisters and I knew Roy all our lives. He came to California for work on the Nat king Cole show and always either stayed with us or came over for dinner. He and my Dad would stay up all night. Both would be playing trumpey or on on trumpet and the other on piano. They remained friends until Roy died in 1989.

    A unit secretary loaned me her copy of Krupa videos so i could copy them for the family. She was very excited when she got to come and hear him play on the Queen mary in the 1990s. It is great that they are on You Tube so they can be shared.

    Anita O'Day, the singer above died recently. At the end of her life she had Alzheimers. She was so confused and forgetful. At a jazz festival on Catalina Island she would be helped on stage. As soon as the band started she was ON. She sang almost as well as when she was young. That part of her memory was intact.
  12. by   Ted
    herring_RN - I bow to you as you lived through and now share some very cool moments in music history! Your father was a very talented musician!! It is so cool that you witnessed and personally was a part of such music history! Thank you for sharing another great video. And thank you for sharing a bit of yourself as it relates to music and music history! LOVED the video! (Love
    Big Band music!!!)

    Respectfully. . .


    PS. . . Interesting tidbit about Anita O'Day! Memory (and lack of memory) is such a weird thing. What's cool is that she WAS able to sing during that jazz festival despite being helped on stage. Music really is a powerful medium.

    Music is something that I am glad that we're both interested in and enjoy, herring_RN! Your sharing of your experiences is just so appreciated and so precious. Thanks!
    Last edit by Ted on Sep 20, '13
  13. by   herring_RN
    You were away when I posted this multiple times over the years.
    We had our first TV when the House Un-American Committee hearings were on.
    Our Daddy explained to us and our cousins what was going on. Pete Seeger did not plead the 5th as many did. he was clear that the 1st amendment gave him the right to freedom of assiociation and free speech.

    He actually predicted that some day Pete would sing for a president.
    This has been my favorite song since childhood. It is my favorite music experience

  14. by   Ted
    Very cool video, herring_RN. We used to sing "This Land is Your Land" at Beaver Cross which was a summer camp for kids, mostly from Episcopal church congregations, (back in the later 1960s/early 1970s). It's where I first heard this song as a kid. I've always enjoyed that tune!

    Thoroughly enjoyed watching the video. Thanks!