O Captain! My Captain!

March 25, 2010 3:52 PM

Music: Dundee. Words: Walt Whitman. Poetry-set-to-music from a notional e.p. called Shelf Life

The music for this came in minutes, and the vocal is 90% guide vocal recorded when the track comprised just an acoustic guitar (tried to re-record, but couldn't recapture the feel - it's not perfect, but...). There are a couple of mistakes in the reading of the poem. Mixed a little too brightly?

Three more tracks in preparation (one already more-or-less in the can). A genuinely epiphanic experience doing this stuff - whole new direction. All the tunes came immediately and almost unbidden. Like floodgates opening - very strange.....

Here's Walt's poem:

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up--for you the flag is flung for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

posted by MajorDundee (7 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Whitman's easily my favourite old dead poet, and you did him great justice in this. I'd love to see kind of a series of snippets from Leaves of Grass.

It's interesting to hear a take on such a wholly American piece, performed by a Briton like yourself...it's a bit like an Irishman (I'll not name names) singing about Martin Luther King, or if I were to sing a song about Louis XIV. Yours is significantly better than either of those scenarios, though.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 10:59 PM on March 25, 2010

Thanks muchly LOOM. Very peculiar situation doing these poems - I've never found it so easy to write songs. Seems that I need a bunch of lyrics to work with before trying to write the music (rather than the other way round which s what I've always done up to now) - kind of provides a set boundary within which to work, a sort of focus. I dunno......
posted by MajorDundee at 2:58 PM on March 26, 2010

I think it's a good move to set Whitman's poetry to music, for the reasons you've listed above. Seems like a rich vein for you to mine, Dundee.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:02 AM on March 27, 2010

Thanks for the encouragement Flapjax - appreciate it. No doubt the vein will be worked out in due course (as is the way of these inspirational surges) but for now I'll keep digging.....
posted by MajorDundee at 8:43 AM on March 27, 2010

I really like this a lot. Your production is really excellent and your voice suits the lyrics very well. I absolutely love the brief instrumental sections that follow the verses. And no need to re-record that guitar!
posted by ORthey at 5:43 PM on March 27, 2010

Thanks ORthey. Wonder what it would sound like with you singing it............
posted by MajorDundee at 3:38 AM on March 28, 2010

Very well rendered piece. Your music brought the poem to life with much feeling and sadness. Great music. I'll be looking forward to more music from you.
posted by harigopal at 5:49 PM on March 29, 2010

« Older Mask of Anarchy   |   Watching You Sleep Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments