How To Swing Those Obbligatos Around


"How To Swing Those Obbligatos Around" is the second song in William Bolcom's cycle I Will Breathe a Mountain, which sets the poetry of several American women poets. The cycle is for mezzo-soprano and piano.


The audio recording of "How To Swing Those Obbligatos Around," provided in the audio playlist to the right, is made possible through a collaboration between the Hampsong Foundation and SongFest. The performers are the Marc and Eva Stern SongFest 2012 Fellow, Kate Tombaugh, mezzo-soprano, and Bobby Pace, piano, and the performance took place at SongFest 2012 at The Colburn School. To listen, please click on the track name itself.

How To Swing Those Obbligatos Around

How To Swing Those Obbligatos Around
by Alice Fulton

He had shag hair & a boutique.
In the bar he told me I had too much class
to be a telephone operator & I told him
he should have been thirty in 1940:
a gangster with patent leather shoes
to shine under girl's skirts & a mother
who called him sonny. He should have
crashed a club where they catered
to the smart set, disposing of
the bouncer with You spent three months
in a plaster cast the last time
you tangled with me & I should have been
the singer in tight champagne
skin waiting for him to growl
I don't know how to begin
this beguine but you certainly know how to
swing those obbligatos around & we
would fox-trot till a guy
he knew from Sing Sing cut in.
& he said he loved old flicks
I should come up to his place & see
the art deco ashtrays on his shag rug
that I shouldn't waste myself
at Bell tel but marry him
& take his business calls &
I said How many years do you get
if they give you life

Audio PLaylist