• Sep 4, 2020 1:00 am
  • 56:50 mins

If you’ve ever caught a mythical fish, rubbed a magic lamp, or harbored a mysterious old woman, you just might be eligible for a divine wish or two. Or three. That said, you’re going to want to read the fine print on those wishes—it turns out getting exactly what you ask for is always more complicated than it sounds.  Wishes are a staple of folk tales, which begs the question, why is it that our hero’s and heroine’s problems can only be solved by magical, otherworldly, or otherwise impossible intervention? Well, it’s a bit of a tricky question, because the question itself assumes that the wish is the answer to the protagonist’s problem. But any good folklore professor would tell you that a fairy tale wish isn’t the solution to a test, but the test itself. They’re the challenge, not the prize. Will the lucky recipient be consumed with greed, like King Midas? Will they be clever enough to outwit the letter-of-the-law genie? Will they use their newfound power for good or for evil? Will what they ask for be what they truly wanted? In this way, wishes are a special tool in the storytelling repertoire: they ask us to examine our heart’s desires and then put them to the test. So, today we’re listening to Willy Claflin, Big Joe Pagliuca, David Tamulevich, Mibre Burch, and Heather forest as they ask that age-old question: if you could have anything, what would you wish for? On today’s episode, enjoy the following: “Little Freddie and His Whistle” by Willy Claflin (12:26) This tale of wishes granted is pretty traditional when compared to the other fractured fairy tales on Willy Claflin’s album, The Uglified Duckling. But when you add Freddie’s forth wall breaking to Willy’s recorder skills (you’ll hear him play a penny-whistle-like ditty every time Freddie pulls out the magic whistle), you just might be giggling along with the live audience of children.  “King Midas and the Golden Touch” by Big Joe Pagliuca (9:39) When it comes to wishes in fairy tales, you’ve probably heard some version of the story of King Midas—I mean, the man practically coined the phrase “be careful what you wish for.” Big Joe Pagliuca brings this ancient Greek tale to life with a flurry of quirky sound effects and gags, plus an eccentric magical bird who doubles as comic relief and wish granter. From Big Joe’s very first CD album, 6 Silly Stories, “King Midas and the Touch” checks all the Big Joe boxes: funny, energetic, cartoonish, and amazing. “Annie’s Bargain” by David Tamulevich (5:33) In this part-song, part-story, David Tamulevich (one half of the Mustard Retreat duo) tells the tale of Annie and a magical, wish-granting raven. David is both player and singer on this track, brandishing an acoustic lap steel guitar in the Big Sky Recording Studio of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The album, Live at the Big Sky, is more than just Mustard’s Retreat music. The Yellow Room Gang, a larger band of 8 including the members of Mustard’s Retreat, performed at Ann Arbor in front of a live audience. In true folk music style, they had a potluck dinner to kick the concert off. “Tia Astucia” by Milbre Burch (12:51) Milbre Burch and Mary Gay Ducey co-tell most of the stories on their collection of tales, Because I Said So: Stories About Mothers and Kids. “Tia Astucia” in particular follows a shrewd and clever widow, Tia, and her rather simple daughter, Bieza, as Bieza begins to court men for marriage. The album as a whole is a folktale-driven examination of motherhood from two master performers: Mibre holds a PhD in Theater and Performance and Mary, of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood fame, is now the founder of the Bay Area Storytelling Festival.  “The Stonecutter” by Heather Forest on Songspinner: Folktales and Fables Sung and Told (3:58) When the spirit of the mountain sees fit to grant the stonecutter’s every wish, the stonecutter embarks on a metaphysical journey to become the most powerful thing in existence. But what is more powerful than the sun, the wind, the clouds, or even the mountain itself? Among the older collections in our archive, Songspinner: Folktales and Fables Sung and Told is one of Heather’s first storytelling albums. Ever since the collection won the 1982 National Library Association Notable Record Award Heather has been performing in venues across the world, from the halls of the Smithsonian to the Glistening Waters Storytelling Festival of New Zealand.