Langston Hughes and Others on a Music Podcast

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Langston Hughes, American poet (1901–67), in 1942 (Jack Delano / Library of Congress / Wikimedia)

I have a new episode of Music for a While, which includes a poem by Langston Hughes, read by the poet himself. Probably his most famous poem is Harlem, and in particular the phrase “raisin in the sun.”

What happens to a dream deferred?

            Does it dry up
            like a raisin in the sun?

In the late ’50s, Lorraine Hansberry wrote a play called “A Raisin in the Sun.”

But Harlem is not the poem I have Hughes reading, in Music for a While. Instead, it’s I, Too.

I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes, . . .

But what’s a poetry reading doing in my music podcast? Well, it is a prelude to a song: the song that Margaret Bonds made out of I, Too.

This episode also includes a couple of organ pieces, a Handel aria — and a Broadway song: “Thank God I’m Old.” What’s that from? A Cy Coleman musical, words by Michael Stewart: Barnum.

A reader/listener suggested to me that the song summed up her feelings at present:

When you see the shape the world is in,
When the way it is ain’t what it’s been,
When folks just care for gold,
Thank God I’m old.

When you take a gander at the news,
When you hear the language people use,
When no sweet songs are sung,
I don’t wanna be young.

Well, I hope you’re feeling more chipper than that. If not, Music for a While can possibly help. Again, here.

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