After Hours

Song Collection

After Hours is a compilation of songs by composer John Harbison for medium voice and piano.

Date: 2008Composer: John Harbison

Print vitals & song text

Composer's Note

“Written in the margins” is the way I would characterize a lot of my composing. In an effort to keep a natural, intuitive relationship to everything I write, I often think even of large projects as “written in the margins” — that is, growing spontaneously and insistently.

The songs in After Hours are a collection of about a third of the pieces I’ve written in the margins of the margins.

The sequence is roughly chronological. A few examples will suggest that the songs fall into four loose categories:

1) Pop songs (Waitin’ for Someone, This Love, Crazy for You)
2) Theatre songs (Christmas Again, Spring Took Me by Surprise,  I’m Through)
3) Novelty songs (Sweet Pretty Baby, Sleepsong, In Old Berlin)
4) Near-Artsongs (Can’t We See, To be With You, Eyes)

Some of the songs (It Happens Ev’ry Day, All for You, Round the Bend) have been sung by singers of many stamps — Annette Sanders, Marni Nixon, Janice Felty, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson.

After a few high school love songs (sort of like the poems you sent to your girlfriend) the lifelong habit began with an invitation in 1971 to write an entire “Comeback Album” for a well-known singer (the album, and the comeback, never materialized). These songs, a half-dozen retained here, have lyrics by my sister, Meg Harbison. More recently I write the tunes first, and depend on the divining instincts of my lyricists.

Performance of songs like these must always be an imaginative act, involving a skilled, observant arranger, or an inventive, wisely-framing pianist, introducing and filling out the song.

–John Harbison


1. Big Orange Moon — 1952
2. I’m Remembering a Night in Rio — 1954, text by Murray Horwitz
3. Douce Dame Jolie (Sweet Pretty Baby) — 1959, text by Gil Macho
4. Talk to Me — 1971, text by Meg Harbison
5. Waitin’ for Someone — 1971, text by Meg Harbison
6. What to Say — 1971
7. All at Once — 1974
8. Summer — 1974
9. In Over My Head — 1971, text by Meg Harbison
10. Round the Bend — 1971, text by Meg Harbison
11. Brazil — 1980, text by Meg Harbison
12. This Love — 1985, text by Meg Harbison
13. Spring Took Me by Surprise — 1988, text by Meg Harbison
14. I’m in Your Hands — 1984, text by Ann Harleman
15. In Old Berlin — 1991
16. Can’t We See — 1986, text by Meg Harbison
17, 18. Sleepsong / Baseline Ballad
Sleepsong (At the Brook with Goldberg) — 2003
Baseline Ballad: Why Does Love Run Dry? — 2003, text by Murray Horwitz
19. Christmas Again — 1995, text by Murray Horwitz
20. At Quarter After — 2002
21. So Long — 1997, text by Ann Harleman
22. Like Spring — 2007, text by Murray Horwitz
23. All for You — 1998, text by Meg Harbison
24. Years from Now — 2000, text by Ann Harleman
25. I’m Through — 2007, text by Murray Horwitz
26. It Happens Ev’ry Day — 1999, text by Ann Harleman
27. Free — 1998, text by Murray Horwitz
28. Crazy for You — 2005
29. So Many Other Things — 2004
30. I Told You So — 2005
31. To Be With You — 2002, text by Meg Harbison
32. Eyes — 2007, text by Meg Harbison

Sheet Music

After Hours

Composer(s): John Harbison

Voice Type: Medium

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