Welcome to the Litt & Alpher Virtual Songbook — an ever-expanding collection of original cabaret songs.
Lyricist Jennie Litt traces her influences back to the great satirists of the 1960s, Tom Lehrer and Allan Sherman; cabaret giants Bertolt Brecht, Jacques Brel, Noël Coward, Flanders & Swann, and Dave Frishberg; their contemporary descendants Francesca Blumenthal, Goldrich & Heisler, and Christine Lavin; and pillars of the American musical theater, Lorenz Hart, Cole Porter, and Stephen Sondheim.
Composer David Alpher, who divides his musical life between classical and contemporary chamber music, art song, and cabaret, draws on his rich musical background in these songs, with a particular emphasis on jazz/blues, melody-driven ballads, and lushly imagined pastiche. He is particularly inspired in his cabaret writing by Leonard Bernstein, Vernon Duke, Bill Evans, George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, and the teachings of Lehman Engel.
Working in a variety of genres — children's music, comic novelty, jazz/blues, neo-Tin Pan Alley, pop, protest, and satire — Litt and Alpher have amassed an eclectic oeuvre of tightly-crafted, piano-driven, stand-alone cabaret songs that tickle the funnybone, tell truths, and touch the heart.
“I ... very much enjoyed husband-and-wife team David Alpher and Jennie Litt, who performed one of David's original tunes, "Two Apples," an enchanting song which tells the story of two apples growing up together on the same branch of a tree!”
— Jenna Esposito, The Cabaret Chronicles, BroadwayWorld.com
“...a great balance between the swing of the tunes and the packed-with-humor lyrics.”
— Noel Katz, lyricist/composer (Area 51, Such Good Friends)
A Brooklyn Lullaby: In this lovely, lilting barcarolle, night falls on an idealized pre-yuppie Brooklyn. A nostalgic urban lullaby for kids and grown-ups.
Christmas In The Doghouse: A holiday-season comic novelty narrated by the well-meaning family dog who, by behaving as nature intended, incurs the wrath of his human companions. A jingling Christmas melody, laughs, pathos, and a happy ending.
Clarity, Meaning, and Sense: A jazz-cat articulates his songwriting philosophy, in colorful jazz argot. Irony, rhythm, and scat. Inspired by the late Frank Conroy, writer, jazz pianist, and transformative teacher.
The Cosmic Perspective addresses no less a concept than the universe, from the point of view of the individual atoms that comprise it. The perfect encore, this short piece alternates between 4/4 and 3/4 time.
Friends: The home-based telecommuter who narrates this song sometimes doesn't see another human being for weeks — so she populates her world with phantom friends such as "Lynn Oleum," "Pattie O'Furniture," and "Beth Tub." As she lists her "friends," we observe her world falling apart around her. A multi-layered satire about how technology isolates us. "The lyrics boasted great creativity, and the gimmick was maintained throughout."
Inspired by the life of Irish harp-player and composer, Turlough O¿Carolan, The Harper's Life spins a tale of love between an itinerant harper and a buxom nursemaid in 17th-century Britain, in the modal style of early music. Accompanied by piano and harp.
He Drives Me: "Any song that features an oversexed, anthropomorphised car is a hit with me."
When an "auto automaton" is retro-fitted with "driver-recognition technology," it transforms into a passionate vixen with a dangerous crush on its owner.
A modern take on the great old tradition of lusty, R-rated, double-entendre blues.
How I Learned To Ride My Bike was written for a songwriting contest celebrating the role of New York City's parks in the lives of New Yorkers. This exhilarating boogie-woogie takes the listener on a humorous tour of Brooklyn's Prospect Park, from the point of view of a little girl on her new two-wheeler. Can be performed as a solo, or with the addition of seven additional (speaking and singing) voices.
My Man In The Moon: Yes, folks, we heard it on NPR: a report that the Bush Administration was considering a proposal to build a power plant — on the moon. This pastiche of an 1890s "moon waltz" is sung by the earthbound girl whose fiancé is deployed up there to build said plant. An absurd satire, with heart.
The Old Family Nuke: This ersatz Elizabethan ballad takes a nostalgic look back at those things — Astro-Turf, The Waltons, and above all, family dinners emerging steamy and fragrant from the microwave — that made our suburban childhoods so special. "I couldn't really relate to this piece, however a lot of the adults in the room found it to be funny."
Thong Song: Unrelated in any way to Sisqó's 2000 hit of the same title, which ranked ninth in a Rolling Stone poll of the 10 most annoying songs ever, our "Thong Song" is a mischievous and delightful little bonbon about a mischievous and delightful little bonbon.
We've All Got To Live In This World...: Something of a departure for us, a song whose message isn't couched in absurd satire, but we hope it isn't too preachy. Somewhat bluesy, with a jammin' piano solo and audience singalong.
Where Did It Go?: In this case, the 70 pounds Jennie lost back in '05. We don't sing this song anymore, since the pregnancy. Oh God, will we ever sing it again? But you can sing it, all you Weight Watchers success stories, South Beach graduates, and Zone aficionados out there! A highly unusual comic novelty with a stab of melancholy at its heart.
Your Standard Standard: A tongue-in-cheek standard manqué, that we nevertheless hope one day to see enshrined in the Great American Songbook, along with those distinguished works from which it so shamelessly derives.
Why do people sing? "Sometimes the juices of life overflow and set the music going." We explore this profound and mysterious human impulse in The Things That Make Us Sing. An anthemic power ballad that builds to a climactic vocalese, this song requires--and rewards--vocal stamina.