Kurt Weill producer dies of Covid-19

The Hollywood music producer Hal Willner has jojned the lengthening toll of music casualties of the Coronavirus pandemic. He was 64.

Before his mainstream career took off on Saturday Night Live, Willner produced a celebrated 1985 Weill tribute album, Lost in the Stars.

 

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  • Hal Willner’s 1985 “Lost in the Stars” album is a compilation of Weill’s “greatest hits performed mostly by rock and crossover musicians:

    1. “Introduction from Mahagonny-Songspiel” – Steve Weisberg
    2. “The Ballad of Mack The Knife” (from The Threepenny Opera) – Sting and Dominic Muldowney
    3. “The Cannon Song” (from The Threepenny Opera) – The Fowler Brothers and Stan Ridgway
    4. “Ballad of the Soldier’s Wife” – Marianne Faithfull and Chris Spedding
    5. “Johnny Johnson Medley” – Van Dyke Parks
    5a. “Overture”
    5b. “Johnny’s Melody”
    5c. “Aggie’s Sewing Machine”
    6. “Alabama Song” (from Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny) – Ralph Schuckett with Richard Butler
    7. “Youkali Tango” – Armadillo String Quartet
    8. “Der Kleine Leutnant Des Lieben Gottes” (The Little Lieutenant of the Loving God) (from Happy End) – John Zorn
    9. “September Song” (from Knickerbocker Holiday) – Lou Reed
    10. “Lost in the Stars” – Carla Bley with Phil Woods
    11. “What Keeps Mankind Alive?” (from The Threepenny Opera) – Tom Waits
    12. “Surabaya Johnny” (from Happy End) – Dagmar Krause
    13. “Oh Heavenly Salvation” (from Mahagonny) – Mark Bingham with Johnny Adams and Aaron Neville
    14. “Call From The Grave/Ballad In Which MacHeath Begs All Men For Forgiveness” (from The Threepenny Opera) – Todd Rundgren with Gary Windo
    15. “Speak Low” (from One Touch of Venus) – Charlie Haden and Sharon Freeman
    16. “In No Man’s Land” (from Johnny Johnson) – Van Dyke Parks

    I have no idea of the source of Sam Ramey’s performance of the song “Lost in the Stars” from the Broadway musical of the same name.

    • Then there was “September Songs”, the 2nd Weill CD in 1994/5 also produced by Willner which offered entirely new interpretations – many brilliant and moving.

  • This post is all a bit sideways — Wilner did SNL before the Weill album, which is in no sense a traditional presentation of Weill’s music, and Wilner pretty much made a point of never attempting to have a mainstream career — but it’s thoughtful to mention him on his passing.

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