Maeve Marsden is one quarter and director of hit comedy-cabaret group Lady Sings it Better. The four women are known for taking on the music of men and rearranging and reimagining the songs, finding the sexist, bizarre and outright hilarious notes. A hit of festivals around Australia and internationally (including Edinburgh Fringe) the group is performing at the Hayes Theatre, Sydney on Sunday 3 and 10 August.
I’m Your Man – Leonard Cohen
This was my first solo with Lady Sings it Better, sung a capella. We now sing my arrangement in four-part harmony. It’s a great summary of the show’s brief (singing songs written by men), and it’s also such a wonderful song, literate, sexy, strong, vulnerable, playful and clever. Leonard Cohen is my favourite lyricist and an outstanding storyteller.
The Ship Song – by Nick Cave, performed by Camille O’Sullivan
I decided to start performing cabaret again (after a few years of not performing) while watching Camille O’Sullivan perform at the Studio at the Opera House, and so Lady Sings it Better was born. She is such an incredible, fearless, gorgeous artist, with an amazing ability to interpret a song. People can be a bit scathing about singers who aren’t songwriters as well, but some of us are better at interpreting others’ work than writing our own songs, and that shouldn’t be any less valued as a creative skill. Camille is one of the best.
You Are My Sister – Antony and the Johnsons
I first saw Antony perform If It Be Your Will at the Came So Far For Beauty Leonard Cohen tribute concert, which remains one of my favourite live music experiences, but I can’t have two Leonard Cohen songs on the list. Besides, this song is so stunning and loving and generous. Family is very important to me.
Jolene – Dolly Parton
I love Dolly Parton, without an ounce of irony. She’s a fabulous songwriter and an amazing woman. This has to be one of my favourite songs, and it also has a bit of an edge for me because infidelity has had a major impact on my life, and I think a lot about monogamy, independence, desire, honesty and the best way to work through all these things with self-respect and respect for those you love.
Pony – Ginuwine
Okay, this list got a bit too serious for a comedy act. We sing a medley of songs about horses based around this song and it’s one of the moments in our show where I can’t look at the other girls or I’ll crack up laughing. I think we’ll be performing it for the rest of our lives because we’d be slaughtered if we did a show without it. The lyrics are pure gold. (here’s our version).