PS Classics co-founder Philip Chaffin will release an album of 17 classics from the American Songbook, including tunes by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, and Alan and Marilyn Bergman, on Will He Like Me?, a new song-cycle that spans a modern gay relationship from first meeting to final goodbye.
Set for a November 9 release, Will He Like Me? weaves together nearly a century of American popular songs to re-contextualize it in a post-marriage equality world. Krasker produces the album that is conducted by Richard Carsey and features arrangements and orchestrations by John Baxindine.
The project is special for Chaffin and his partner Tommy Krasker, who formed PS Classics in 2000. “Although the idea for the album had been percolating for a while, it was actually a chance remark in 2013 by Steve Sondheim that kicked it into high gear,” Krasker said. “Philip and I were working on Philip’s fourth solo disc, a salute to lyricist Dorothy Fields, and he wanted to sing her classic ‘Remind Me.’ The refrain went ‘Remind me not to find you so attractive. Remind me that the world is full of men.’ It was written for a woman, and didn’t have an ‘alternate version’ for a man to sing. You couldn't just change ‘men’ to ‘women,’ because it had to rhyme with two other words later. So I wrote to Steve, knowing how much he loved Dorothy Fields’ work, and asked if he’d supply an alternate lyric. And he was lovely and came up with two, which were wonderful, but he also said, ‘You know, it’s 2013. I think you should just sing the lyric as is.’
“Suddenly a wealth of songs opened up to us. Songs Philip hadn’t been able to sing, because they were meant for a woman to sing about a man, or because the actions described—say, cooking breakfast for someone you love—didn’t conform to standard gender stereotypes.”
The track list follows:
“Will He Like Me?” (Jerry Bock & Sheldon Harnick)
“It’s a Nice Face/When I Marry Mr. Snow" (Cy Coleman & Dorothy Fields/Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II)
“Cooking Breakfast for the One I Love” (Billy Rose & Henry Tobias)
“I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” (Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart)
“Man With a Load of Mischief” (John Clifton & Ben Tarver)
“Charity’s Soliloquy” (Cy Coleman & Dorothy Fields)
“An Occasional Man” (Hugh Martin & Ralph Blane)
“Lovely, Lonely Man” (Richard M. Sherman & Robert B. Sherman)
“A Tender Spot"/"Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe” (Ervin Drake/Harold Arlen & E.Y. Harburg)
“Tom” (Michael John LaChiusa)
“But I Could Cook” (Harold Arlen & Dorothy Fields)
“I Got Lost in His Arms”/”Don’t Ever Leave Me” (Irving Berlin/Jerome Kern & Oscar Hammerstein II)
“Who Gave You Permission?” (Billy Goldenberg & Alan & Marilyn Bergman)
“Windflowers” (Jerome Moross & John Latouche)
Will He Like Me? can be pre-ordered on Amazon.com.