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Sagas of Sundry Celebrity Playlist: Fenly’s Playlist by Xander Jeanneret
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Sagas of Sundry Celebrity Playlist: Fenly’s Playlist by Xander Jeanneret

Sagas of Sundry is our horror-themed RPG show, available exclusively on Alpha. Every Thursday, a new episode of this thriller goes live as Game Master Ivan van Norman puts a talented cast through trials, where every character will walk away significantly changed, if they walk away at all.

This week, the amazing and talented Xander Jeanneret presents a playlist for his Sagas of Sundry character, the gregarious and trusting Fenly Emerson.  Check out what Xander had to say about Fenly and the role of music for the character in his insights below.

Fenly is such an important character to me, and it was a joy to find out who he was over the process of Sagas of Sundry. I knew going into the project that Fenly would try and be the “heart” of the group, as his main ambition was to make new friends and to forget the painful parts of his past. There was a tough balance to strike of playing a somewhat happy-go-lucky character, and keeping the overall spooky tone of the show, and I found a similar challenge when creating this playlist.

We actually get a small taste of what Fenly’s musical taste is in his prologue. If you recall, the person who used to live in his apartment was a DJ who would take samples of the sounds the old apartment building would make, and turn them into music. Fenly would listen to the tape that was left behind, and paint to it. I actually created the song used in the show, and you can listen to the whole thing.

As with this song, and a bunch of the songs in the playlist, Fenly puts it best: “[It] wouldn’t be delightful to everyone. It’s inspirational.”

I’d also like to take a quick moment and say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you, dear viewer. I see you, and I’m so touched that this character and this show means so much to so many of you. 

Okay! On to the playlist (quick note: headphones are recommended to experience the full effect of these songs.)

Warning: spoilers for Sagas of Sundry: Madness are included in the commentary below.

“Cherubic Hymn” by Bruce Haack
I love this as an opening to a story that Fenly would listen to as he would create and search for inspiration. I have visions of Fenly discovering a couple of old vinyls from the 1970’s, and falling in love with the electronic sounds of the Moog and the Vocoder.

With this song in particular, it invokes Fenly’s wandering spirit as he searches for a life outside of his abusive ex-boyfriend. I also like that so many of the lyrics become prophetic to the journey the tenants go on, and where Fenly ends up. I want to post the lyrics to this one, because they’re so good, and I’ll try my hardest not to do this for every song.

Come with me into the great winter
Frozen sky no longer above
Fly with me beyond the thunder
Where gravity gives up its love…
Come with me into the great summer
Silver clouds and melting sand-
We will see a different sunset
Where fish are living off the land…
We will learn that we are one with
God and universal man-
Then return with understanding
To the world where we began…
Come with me – my love will take you
To fly with me hand in hand-
A world that knows summer and winter
Is waiting for us
To land…

“O Superman” by Laurie Anderson

I love this song so much. The experimentation with the vocoder, and the blend of technology and an old Aria (technology vs. musical theatre was Fenly’s jam), and the lyrics have so much meaning behind them. It draws back to a time of screening calls, conversations with parents, smoking or non-smoking, and a conversation with a mysterious voice (sounds familiar!). The looping sound of the voice could very well have been an inspiration for the blue pulse line that ends up in Fenly’s painting. This song is jam-packed with symbolism, almost every line is incredible, and I encourage you to look up the meaning of the lyrics!

“Macho” by Jaakko Eino Kalevi

This is the one song that breaks my rule. I tried to choose music that Fenly would actually have access to in the time period, but this one was just too good to leave out. It totally fits in the soundscape Fenly loves and deals with someone who is fed up with the “macho” man. One of Fenly’s core values was a pride for himself and his sexuality, and would be fluidly flowing from traditional “masculinity” and “femininity”. It wasn’t the best time to be an open member of the LGBTQ community, and I imagine this would be one of Fenly’s ‘pump-up’ songs to get ready to face the world.

“Only Love Can Break Your Heart” by Saint Etienne

As offbeat as Fenly would like to think himself (he’s an artiste, after all), he’s still susceptible to the popular music of the time. Plus, this is technically a cover of a Neil Young song, so it still counts. I envision Fenly listening to this song at first on the dance floor of an underground gay club and then resonating with the meaning behind it after his breakup.

“My Man’s Gone Now” by Gershon Kingsley & Keonid Hambro (Gershwin)

Originally from the opera Porgy and Bess, this is a Moog version of an aria sung by a grieving widow. I see Fenly listening to this both as wishful thinking and as a way to process his newfound single lifestyle.

“Brazilian Flower” by Jean-Jacques Perrey

This song is pure Fenly. I imagine him blasting this as he’s cleaning, painting, or taking a moment to smile. It combines the sound of the Moog synthesizer with a serious 60’s vibe, and allows us a little breathing room in the playlist. While the song itself is from 1968, stalwart denizens of the Internet may recognize it as the “rainbow bunchie” song, paired with a gif of a rainbow galloping monster. Fenly was ahead of his time.

“E.V.A.” by Jean-Jacques Perrey

Another feel-good track from our Moog master. This is just such a cool amalgamation of so many instruments and technology, Fenly would really see it as a musical painting. The different strokes from the many instruments weave together to create a definitive soundscape. A great one to jam out to while painting.

“Dali” by Bernard Fevre

This is a cool example of “French Cosmic Disco”, which kind of speaks for itself.

“Twilight Zone” by Golden Earring

We all need to rock out, and Fenly’s no different. The irony didn’t escape him as things worthy of the Twilight Zone started happening to Fenly and his new friends.

Help I’m steppin’ into the twilight zone
The place is a madhouse
Feels like being cloned
My beacon’s been moved
Under moon and star
Where am I to go
Now that I’ve gone too far

“Paint it Black” by The Rolling Stones

That damn door.

“Rhythm Is A Dancer” by Snap! (Remix by Breathe Carolina, Dropgun, Kaleena Zanders)

C’mon. It’s the 90’s!

Okay, so this one also breaks my rule. The original song would definitely be a guilty pleasure for Fenly, but this remix of the song would be a version he would really dig in the present day.

“Across the Universe” by The Beatles (Piano cover by Brian Crain)

For Fenly, our wandering star.

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