Songs about bugs

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Composer Gene Gutchë was born in Berlin but spent much of his life here in the Twin Cities after moving here to study at the University of Minnesota in the 1950s.

Gutchë’s Bongo Divertimento was commissioned by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s first musical director Leopold Sipe. His ten year tenure is characterized by similar such ventures — in fact, the SPCO’s first program stated its intention to “devote the major portion of its programs to the wonderful literature, both classic and contemporary, that is not ordinarily played by large symphonies.”

The recording was made before an audience in 1962, and was released by the SPCO itself. It is presumably one of their rarest recordings, although it has been issued on CD by the Schubert Club. If you listen carefully, you can hear audience members laughing near the end of the short work’s third movement.

Most of Gutchë’s music harks to the romantic era, although there is a definite Stravinsky-an flair to some of his later music. Passage in Bongo Divertimento presage Jerry Goldsmith’s groundbreaking atonal score to the science fiction classic Planet of the Apes, recorded six years later.

The piece is divided into five movements, described as such in the album’s liner notes:

Perpetuo sets a pace for solo bongos.

Pettifoggery is a type of “con game,” a moment of dishonest jazz interrupted by the sobering strains in the orchestra.

Blue Bottle Fly is a musical duel between a soloist and a pest.

Pasticco is in imitation. A Muted trumpet sounds a Neoclassical theme against which the timbales strum a bygone rhythm.

Magpie presents two birds chattering noisily in the cool of a summer morning while their neighbors in the forest protest.

spiderYour friendly neighborhood record shop isn’t just a temporary home to hundreds of thousands of LPs and a little black and white dog. It’s also the habitat for the spookiest, most fearless spider in the world.

And he’s decided his favorite place to hang out is next to this Who album tacked on the wall. We’ve grown accustomed to the fuzzy li’l guy, so we’re hoping he doesn’t meet the same fate as Boris the Spider.

It’s tough to be a bee. People are always shooing you away and screaming when you come around to say hello, and you’re just trying to do your job. And its an important job, too. According to a UN study quoted by Bee Guardian (here) our little black and yellow friends pollinate seventy percent of  the 100 crops that supply food to ninety percent of the world. Thats a complicated fact with a lot of numbers but also really stunning when you think about it. So the next time you see a bee, pat him on his little head and say ‘thanks!’ or better yet sing him a song…

honey bee w

“Honey Bee” by Tom Petty

05 honey bee

“Honey Bee” by Muddy Waters


bone 1bone 2

(Images from Bone #7, February 1994 – Fone Bone discovers the bees in the mysterious valley are larger than expected)

02 honey from the bee

love buzz

“Honey from the Bee” and “Love Buzz” by Willie and the Bees


Sting in this old Bee by Hank Thompson

a sleepin bee w

“A Sleepin’ Bee” by the Bill Evans Trio

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never swat a fly w

“Never Swat a Fly” by the Jim Kweskin Jug Band

dont bug me baby

“Don’t Bug Me Baby” by Milton Allen

01 love bug crawl

“Love Bug Crawl” by Jimmy Edwards

If you and your new bee friend settle in for a visit you could invite him for tea (with honey, of course). While visiting on your patio, show him the greatest website ever made, he’s sure to enjoy seeing it.

honey beehoney bee

“Honey Bee” by Billy Myles

honey bee lee pepper and his orch

“Honey Bee” by Lee Pepper and his Orchestra

back in your life

buzz buzz buzz w

hey there little insect w

“Buzz Buzz Buzz” and “Hey There Little Insect” by Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers

bee side

B Side by Loudon Wainwright III

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