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Shave and a Haircut...

October 29, 2009 | 4 Comments

To the host:

I listen to your show almost every single week, but I cannot recall having EVER heard a barbershop quartet on your show. Since barbershop quartet singing is a uniquely American art form, and since you seem to enjoy harmonizing, I cannot imagine why you don't schedule them regularly.

What gives?

Robbie Brunger (a tenor)
Tallahassee, FL


Good question, Robbie. We've had a couple of quartets on, but haven't had one for a long time. Maybe I got tired of hearing "Hard-hearted Hannah the Vamp of Savanna, G-A" and "Where is the fair in farewell, where is the good in goodbye." Or maybe it's that the music has sort of calcified and is more about technique and showiness and scoring points than it is about true feeling — it's more of an athletic event than esthetic...

I love gospel quartets but barbershop is another league, the sound is sharper, even shrill, and there isn't the range of expression that one wants to hear. They all drill toward that big finish with the high money note and I'm sorry but the big finish leaves me cold. But maybe somebody at the SPEBSQSA will get in touch and tell me about some fine quartet that proves me wrong on all counts. I'd rather be wrong.


O'rale Garrison! When are you gonna put on some mariachis?

Way back yonder in the 60's, I worked as part of my high school stage crew. My hometown (Warren, Pa) had an excellent barbershop quartet and chorus. We held competitions and groups came from all over, fantastic music. There are great groups out there.

Having sung with Sweet Adelines, I know just what Garrison is talking about ... too much show and not enough heart. BUT, there are two songs sung by a quartet, long gone, that just cracked me up. If you can ever find a barbershop quartet that likes to infuse humor into their work, have them sing: "Pass the Other Udder to my Other Brother" and "One Day that Rooster Came in our Yard." They would fit beautifully into the show!

There's another .. something about, "He Holds the Lantern While his Mother Chops the Wood." ...

do you know where to find the barbershop sheet music to pass the other udder to my other brother?

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