Bird Songs & Songs About Birds

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

(photo: David Garland)

Birds and their songs aren't fully understood by humans, but birds appear again and again in human songs as symbols of freedom, flight, beauty, and more. With The Incredible String Band's "White Bird" as a center piece, David Garland presents an hour of songs about birds, including pieces by Laura Marling and Scott Matthew recorded for Spinning On Air, and works by The Beach Boys, Anita O'Day, and Dave Van Ronk. Plus an excerpt from Jim Fassett's "Symphony of the Birds," a tape collage constructed from recordings of bird song.

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Comments [8]

Peter Edlund from Brooklyn

I loved Dave van Ronk's "Bird on a wire." Where is this version from? I looked for it and couldn't find it anywhere. Those horns were amazing. Inspired me to start playing again. Thanks, Peter Edlund

Jan. 16 2014 10:18 AM
David Garland from WNYC Studio

Here's the playlist, showing Performer-Song-Album:

Jim Fassett - side 2 excerpt - Symphony of the Birds

Laura Marling - Little Bird - Spinning On Air session 2013 (this song appears in a different form on Laura's album Once I Was an Eagle)

Jerry Jeff Walker - Little Bird - Mr. Bojangles

The Beach Boys - Little Bird - Friends

Scott Matthew - Little Bird - Spinning On Air session 2007 (this song appears in a different form on the Short Bus soundtrack album, and on the album Scott Matthew)

The Incredible String Band - White Bird - Changing Horses

Lata Mangeshkar - Aayega Aanewala (excerpt) - Mahal

The Trashmen - Surfin' Bird - Surfin' Bird

Anita O'Day - Night Bird - The Complete Anita O'Day Verve/Clef Sessions

Dave Van Ronk - Bird on a Wire - Van Ronk

Jim Fassett - Symphony of the Birds, first movement - Symphony of the Birds

Jan. 13 2014 12:32 PM
David Garland from WNYC Studio

Thanks for your comments. I'll post the playlist later tonight. Meanwhile, "White Bird" was by The Incredible String Band. Regarding a Spinning On Air podcast, copyright issues make it difficult to podcast a show of commercial recordings like this one, but it may become possible to podcast the shows that feature in-studio performances. Tonight's show is archived on this page for listening anytime.

Jan. 12 2014 10:15 PM
eleniNYC from Jackson Heights

I happened to enjoy "Whitebird", but I didn't catch the name of the British group that sang it. It had a medieval revival-folksy feel to it that I loved. But the surprise of where the tune came from wasn't until the end of the program and thought it rather hilarious!! Thank you David Garland for playing the source: an early Bollywood film from the 1940's!?!?! BRILLIANT!!! who knew?!?!?!

Jan. 12 2014 09:32 PM
Rachel Gilmore from Brooklyn, NY

Hi Guys! We are really enjoying this show. I do have to say, White Bird is definitely not for me. Too repetitive!!

Jan. 12 2014 08:40 PM
Maria Brinkmann from New York City

Is there a playlist available for tonight's episode? Loving the bird songs!

Jan. 12 2014 08:19 PM
Alyssa from brooklyn

I second that! Podcast please.

Jan. 12 2014 08:18 PM
Seattle Listener from Seattle Maybe

It sure would be great to have Spinning on Air available as a podcast!

Jan. 10 2014 06:12 PM

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