John Hollenbeck didn’t seek out popular music when he was kid, but it was always there, and it became an undeniable part of him. Songs I Like A Lot is an album on which the adventurous and internationally renowned composer, esteemed for his ability to strike upon new sounds, turns instead toward familiar forms, and weaves other peoples’ songs into his own unique tapestry.
Growing up in Binghamton, New York, Hollenbeck frequently heard “Wichita Lineman,” asong originally by pop writer Jimmy Webb, as sung by one of his father’s favorite pop balladeers Glen Campbell. Although he was more interested in music that sounded new to him, Webb’s songwriting left an indelible impression.
For Songs I Like A Lot, Hollenbeck scoured his memory in search of songs that had similarly become inextricable from his musical outlook. He compiled a big list, and whittled it down with help from vocalists Theo Bleckmann and Kate McGarry, who are featured on the album, along with pianist Gary Versace.
Commissioned by the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, who also recorded the album, Songs I Like A Lot became an exhibition of imaginatively remolded songs from a diverse array of musical worlds.
The album contains covers of songs by Jimmy Webb, avant-garde saxophonist Ornette Coleman, the power pop band Queen, sound artists Nobukazu Takemura and Imogen Heap, and the traditional Appalachian ballad “Man of Constant Sorrow.” Broad in their stylistic range, the songs have each carved out a distinct path, and are now connected by having been cast anew with Hollenbeck’s dexterous hand.
released 29 January 2013
- Theo Bleckmann
- Kate McGarry
- Gary Versace and the
- Frankfurt Radio Big Band