Not the Dylan album, but the British singer.
January 28, 2003 11:07 PM   Subscribe

It's like Cliff's Notes for Hamlet, but in song form: here's John Wesley Harding's take on the Shakespeare classic. A sure help to any struggling college literature student. (mp3 download)
posted by UKnowForKids (13 comments total)
"Hamlet" (not a JWH original, but a cover of a song by Adam MacNaughton) and three other live recordings from his recent US tour are available here. Main site here.

If you're not familiar with JWH, you should be. Great singer/songwriter with a sharp sense of humor and an Elvis Costello-esque ear for melody. Plus, he has written what is probably the saddest song about Adolf Hitler in all of pop music. What more do you need?
posted by UKnowForKids at 11:11 PM on January 28, 2003

Jolly good fun! I've heard that "Hamlet, Hamlet, very balmy / Hamlet, Hamlet loves his mommy" bit somewhere before. This certainly encourages me to take a closer look at the JW Harding collecting dust at the back of my father's cabinet... Thanks, UKnow.

Interested parties may also enjoy Dan Bern's "Shakespeare's Got a Gun." (terribly sorry--only lyrics, and unattractive site as well). Then again, interested parties may not.

It seems some monkey, just outside of Pittsburgh
Finally typed out Hamlet, typed out Hamlet, word for word...

posted by hippugeek at 12:40 AM on January 29, 2003

My English teacher had a Garrison Keillor version of this song (I've always heard it called The Three Minute Hamlet) that she played for us after we covered the play in class. For a while I had another version... which now I can't remember the singer for because it's on my other computer and hasn't been transferred over yet... Both of them ended slightly differently than this one, with the word 'bloody' instead of 'fucking' and 'read' instead of 'see'.
posted by emmling at 12:40 AM on January 29, 2003

How can you not love a tune that rhymes "Claudius" with "What a fraud he is"?
posted by arto at 12:56 AM on January 29, 2003

Wes is a wonderful singer-songwriter/troubadour. At least one of his albums is in the rotation at my house at any given time. For the pure one man, one guitar sound, get his first album, a live recording called "It Happened One Night" (The Rhino release rather than the Demon Records version if available). I also recommend:
? Here Comes the Groom
? The Name Above the Title
? Why We Fight
? JWH's New Deal
If Jonathan Richman can tour Japan, why not Wes? If you read this, Wes, you can stay at my house on the Osaka-Kyoto-Kobe leg of your tour. So can Quonsar.
posted by planetkyoto at 2:02 AM on January 29, 2003

"It Happened One Night" is without a doubt my favorite album of all time. The whole album just captures an intensity and intimacy that is indescribable. I've copied the album for friends more times than I can count, and so far only one person hasn't liked it. Sadly, though, I've found all of Harding's studio work boring and overproduced. The worst is when he takes brilliant songs from IHON and remakes them in the studio. Ugh. I'll keep buying his stuff, though, in the hopes that he'll recapture his past genius. What can I say, I'm a chump.

P.S. - This Hamlet song is good. Maybe there's hope after all.
posted by emptybowl at 7:20 AM on January 29, 2003

I am listening to The Man With No Shadow right now. Ah, the joys of a promotional CDs... (I am planning on buying it when it's actually released, but I couldn't resist the $15 copy on a few months ago).

According to Wes, his latest self-released album, Swings and Roundabouts (#4 in the Dynablob series) went into profit within 28 hours of its release--and it's only available through his website or at gigs. Pretty damned impressive, if you ask me.

Wes is absolutely my favorite musician; I've seen him perform twice, and both times he was amazing. I'm a big fan of his cover of "Like A Prayer," but my favorite song has got to be "The Person You Are," from The Name Above The Title (which has a song on the cassette version that isn't on the CD, "I'd Be Sleeping If My Baby Were Here", which I can't seem to find anywhere. IIRC, it's a duet with someone, Victoria Williams, perhaps).

I can't recommend his tour diaries enough, either.
posted by eilatan at 7:23 AM on January 29, 2003

great song. and if you like that, you will like Dan Bern. I have no doubt.
posted by th3ph17 at 7:52 AM on January 29, 2003

JWH is responsible for one of my favorite rhymes ever, in "Peeling Bark": "He was wearing just a towel to keep him warm, / and he saw she liked Somerset Maughum." I'd love him for the obvious delight he takes in words even if everything else he did were horrible.
posted by fidelity at 8:58 AM on January 29, 2003

this whole thread and no mention of richard thompson's "hamlet" condensation? for shame.
posted by pxe2000 at 1:13 PM on January 29, 2003

I was thinking about Wes when I read Y2K's Jonathan Richman post the other day. The two always remind me of each other. He's a wonderful artist and deserves to known by many more people. I've yet to get the new Dynablob, but I've been listening to The Man With No Shadow since last summer. One of my favorite Wes covers is one he did with Steve Wynn of "You shook me all night long."
posted by octobersurprise at 7:03 PM on January 29, 2003

Someone e-mailed me this and asked me to post it here:

"re your John Wesley Harding take on Hamlet ( very funny btw)- Metafilter still isn't taking new users so I couldn't contribute this comment and link, maybe you'd like to - it's another Hamlet done by an Australian but its 'to be or not to be' sung with musical backing. I thought it might be of interest to the thread. I haven't heard shakespeare sung before.


"cheers, Russ Squires"
posted by UKnowForKids at 5:43 AM on January 30, 2003

Oooh...thanks again, UKnow. It's too bad the guy felt he had to do the whole soliliquy; it doesn't really get a good groove until "and lose the name of action."

And of course, there's always "What a Piece of Work is Man" from "Hair."
posted by hippugeek at 3:34 AM on February 5, 2003

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