Maureen McGovern whips up a tasty brew of jazz and politics at Birdland

By Lucy Komisar

Maureen McGovern

I saw Maureen McGovern at Birdland, the iconic jazz club on West 44th Street in New York. It always amazes me to hear her smooth tuneful mix of jazz, a soup§on of folk, and lyrics that are as smartly political as they get. Her full, mellifluous voice does her selections honor.

At 61, McGovern channels the 60s and 70s with spirit and heart. Her rendition of the Beatles’ When I’m 64 is the best I’ve ever heard. She presents an ethereal version of Up, Up and Away (Would you like to ride in my beautiful balloon.) She also conveys a feminist idiom: A woman is a fighter, a mighty force of nature.

On the folk side of the era, this versatile performer does a powerful If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song), noting that Pete Seeger has always been a hero of mine. And McGovern has long been a favorite of mine.

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