All posts by Tom Gentry

I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire

When well-known barbershopper Darryl Flinn first heard my current quartet, Lock 4, he remarked on what a fine voice our lead, Keith, had and declared him to be the lost Ink Spot. So naturally I went back and arranged Keith’s favorite Ink Spot song. The piece lives more vividly with guitar accompaniment, and there is even a traditional, uh, spot for a bass recitation.
By the way, our quartet’s name has a double meaning. The Ohio & Erie Canal came through Akron back in the day, and of course we barbershoppers love to lock and ring those chords!

Stairway to Heaven

What? You don’t have a Led Zeppelin song in your repertoire? Well, isn’t it high time you got one? The answer is, maybe. For one thing, this arrangement requires an extra soloist or two, making it better suited to a chorus than quartet. Also, many of the tricky instrumental effects are reproduced vocally, making this piece very . . . not easy. But if your group can pull it off, your audiences are bound to go bonkers!

No One Knows

This song of loneliness was beautifully written back in 1908. The composer really knew what he was doing, writing the melody such that a major ninth chord, a most melancholy sound, was required on “knows.” See what you think of this tune for your quartet or chorus.

New Old Songs Medley

This one is rather tough to describe. For one thing, it does not exist yet—at least not in a completed form. The gag is pairing the lyrics from songs by the Beatles, Rolling Stones and so on with the melodies of much older songs. Some examples of the latter are “Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland,” “After the Ball” and “I Got Rhythm.” The hope is to pleasantly scramble your audiences’ brain waves (maybe you own also). If you are interested in this weird concept, do give me a holler.

All Night Long

The wonderful Chilton Price wrote this spicy song. Though no more than R rated, the song makes its meaning clear. Ms. Price’s biggest hit was “You Belong to Me.” She composed this song alone, though a couple of the band members who introduced the piece wangled their way into a share of the compensation. This practice has not been at all rare. Hey, do you think Elvis really wrote “Love Me Tender”?

Steam Heat

From the 1954 Broadway musical The Pajama Game, this tune is hot. No, it’s hotter than hot! The Cleveland Heights High School Women Barbershoppers debuted this sultry song with great success at the Midwinter Convention, but is just fine for the grownups as well. The piece is probably not suitable for SAI contests, but it is great for shows. And don’t forget to wear your black derbies. . . .

Nowhere to Go but Up

From the movie Mary Poppins Returns, this delightful song will take you on a natural high. You won’t be flying a kite—you will soar over the town, maybe even heading to the moon. This arrangement is fine for contests using the BHS judging system but might be more suitable for shows in the Sweet Adelines world. Commissioned by the Hunterdon Harmonizers, this piece is exclusive to them for a while longer.

I Say a Little Prayer

When I first got involved with the Cleveland Heights High School Barbershoppers, I asked the young women what song they would most like to have arranged. Thinking of the Julia Roberts film “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” they choose this one. This sweet tune is now available to other youth groups, and there is also a version for the grown-ups which is pitched down a little.

Hit the Road, Jack

This emphatic tune is arranged for four-part women’s voices with male solo. The fellow needs to be either a bass or a low baritone—low in more than one sense of the word? The arrangement is also available in German. That title translates as “Come, Drink Up, Jack.” Fun, eh?

Mein Bruder macht im Tonfilm die Geräusche

Partly in English and partly in German, this song is, well . . . what it is, is . . . different—and great fun! The English title is “My Brother Makes the Sound Effects for Movies.” The sounds included are a mix of vocal, electronic and mechanical effects. And the piece is contestable too. It could be redone for your group to be all in one language or the other.

My Brother Makes the Sound Effects for Movies

Partly in English and partly in German, this song is, well . . . what it is, is . . . different—and great fun! The sounds included are a mix of vocal, electronic and mechanical effects. And it is contestable too. It could be redone for your group to be all in one language or the other. The German title is “Mein Bruder macht im Tonfilm die Geräusche.”

Twenties Set

This one is pretty flexible, of course, for so many of our barbershop claassics were written in this roaring decade. So you could either sing these two uptunes or pick one of them and just add a ballad:

  • How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm
  • Twenties Dance Medley

Seniors Set

Who among us isn’t older than he or she used to be? But, hey, let’s have some fun with the passage of time:

  • Button Up Your Overcoat
  • If I Had My Life to Live Over

for shows try Senior Moments [You can’t sing “brain farts” in contest.]

Prohibition Set

Break out your zoot suits or Roaring ’20s grubbies and get ready to explore the mysteries of, and creative solutions for, that dreadful time known as Prohibition:

  • How Are You Goin’ to Wet Your Whistle (When the Whole Darn World Goes Dry)
  • Where Do They Go When They Row-Row-Row (Three Miles Away from the Shore)

and maybe even the gangster song We’re Number One

Sea Set

More for a chorus than a quartet, this medley deals with sailors who have had their shore leave canceled. It is pretty funny and clever if I do say so myself:

  • Sea Medley

[Lots of songs would work; for example, A Son of the Sea or How Deep Is the Ocean.]

Swinging on a Star

Great fun for singers and audiences alike, this lively tune is available in both contest and show versions. It is easily one of my most popular charts. Power Play sang it with much success, and it works just fine for the ladies as well.  Continue reading Swinging on a Star

Sound Celebration

I wrote and arranged this energetic song honoring music and other sounds of life around us. The men’s version of this arrangement is published by the BHS. There is now an SATB version for YMIH/YWIH singers, as well one for women’s voices.  Continue reading Sound Celebration

Something Inside So Strong

Arranged to help the Dutch Association of Barbershop Singers (DABS) celebrate its 20th anniversary, this song is as strong as it gets. It has been used for protest and inspiration by a wide variety of oppressed groups, though anyone can relate to its powerful, uplifting message. A mixed version is now available. Continue reading Something Inside So Strong

Smile

As sung by The New Tradition, Nightlife, Ringmasters and many other groups, this piece is really powerful. You could close your shows with it or sing it in just about any other position. This arrangement is my all-time favorite. It works well for BHS, HI, etc. contests, but I am not sure about SAI. Continue reading Smile

Second Star to the Right

A beautiful ballad from the animated film Peter Pan, this song was debuted at the 2009 Anaheim International contest by The Alliance. Tim Waurick has recorded fine learning tracks for both men and women. While this piece stands alone just fine, it would make a lovely companion to a Peter Pan or pirate medley in contest.  Continue reading Second Star to the Right

Old Folks

The Four Renegades and Suntones used to sing Buzz Haeger’s version of this tune about a beloved old fellow. The song always reminds me of my grandfather William Thomas “Dandy” Gentry (1896-1987). Some people who have only an eighth-grade education are pretty darn smart. . . .

Michigan Rag

This energetic uptune was arranged, and partially composed, for Michigan Jake. It was sung in a cartoon by the one and only Michigan J. Frog, for whom that gold-medal quartet is named. If your lead(s) can handle a disjunct melody—and words that are, in the words of great bass man Bill Myers, printed very close to the page—then this lively number is for you!

Let There Be Peace On Earth

A show closer with a great message, this song offers the best wish possible. The men’s version of this arrangement is published by the BHS, and it works great for women and mixed groups as well.  Continue reading Let There Be Peace On Earth

If I Can Dream

If you are not familiar with this song, do yourself a favor and find a clip of Elvis Presley singing it. This plaintive plea drives and drives and drives, as 2014 international champ Musical Island Boys showed us so well. In 2017 this song became a LABBS “polecat” number, sung by all of their ladies.

Learning tracks

I’ll Never Say “Never Again” Again

A lively swing number, this contestable tune was a hit for SAI medalist ReMix for the women and BHS medalist Metropolis for the men. We can’t really be sure about love, can we? Please specify whether you would like to preview the original ReMix version or Mo Field’s revision with intro by Jay Giallombardo—or both! Continue reading I’ll Never Say “Never Again” Again

I Only Have Eyes for You

This popular classic is now available in two versions. One has the shimmering feel of the rock ‘n’ roll hit, while the other is a contestable tempo ballad as sung by Metropolis. The latter can be sung either straight or, as the quartet did it, humorously.  Continue reading I Only Have Eyes for You