What made me pick up this record in the 25 cent bin was the first sentence: “This is an extraordinary record.” Why is it? For starters, it is a song cycle centered around nature, animals, and birds accompanied by a muted banjo, 12 string guitar, french horn, a harpsichord (that Bill constructed himself!), cello, and bass. The harpsichord and bass are played by sons of the jazz legend Dave Brubeck: Darius and Christopher. Not only this, but Bill’s arrangements are not simple, they are complex, yet spare. A hard feat to do when using someone else’s words and meter.
Like many struggling musicians, after several attempts of trying to sway record companies to produce his song cycle, he decided to produce and record it himself. This project came out of Bill’s dissatisfaction of the quality of poems set to music which were already out there. It might sound like a children’s record at first, but some of the poems have a dark undertone to them. Others have a more nostalgic feel with complex musical arrangements to keep the listener engaged.
Regardless if this is your thing or not, one has to appreciate the will and determination that Mr. Crofut went through to realize his dream. Listening to these compositions reminded me of being a child again, something we tend to forget as we age. It is a welcoming and pleasant reminder indeed.
The Early Morning–Hilaire Belloc
The Mockingbird-Randall Jarrell
Little Trotty Wagtail- John Clare
The Bird of the Night- Randall Jarrell
The Cow-The Wind-Robert Louis Stevenson
The Chipmunk’s Day- Randall Jarrell
The Goat Paths- James Stephens
White Fields- James Stephens
The Gallows-Edward Thomas
Nurse’s Song- William Blake
The Eagle- Alfred Lord Tennyson
A Man of Words- Anon
Child’s Song- Thomas Moore