Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy knew everything there is to know about you Bob Hillman sings in his song Tolstoy, from his 2001 album Welcome to My Century. The line could be an acknowledgment of the Russian writer's insight into the human condition, but more likely it is addressed to a specific individual. The song depicts an intimate personal relationship using Tolstoy's works as the context and backdrop: War and peace and right and wrong/Gargantuan themes, impossibly long/Anna Karenina the ill-starred lover speaks to me/She draws a breath and whispers my name/I’m exactly the same as a Russian count in 1823/And he’s exactly like me. Hillman's song was selected by Artists For Literacy for inclusion on the SIBL Project, a CD of Songs Inspired By Literature released in 2002, which was produced to raise funds and support for their education and outreach efforts. "I've never heard of this Mr. Bob Hillman," Susan Stamberg said in an NPR story about the SIBL Project, "but that song about Tolstoy is enough to make you want to pick up War And Peace and start reading it."