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Why I Pity the Woman Who Never Spills

"I Pity the Woman Who Never Spills" (acrylic on canvas) by Leslie Williams, inspired by this song.
Used by permission of the artist.

A gutsy, sensual song in praise of messy women
Commissioned by Cornell University Women's Chorus / Scott Tucker
Joan Wolf Prefontaine

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A gutsy, sensual blues setting of Joan Wolf Prefontaine’s poem in praise of messy women.  Opening with waves of “spilling” words — spill, splatter, spot, spree, dribble, drabble, oozle — this piece is a rambunctious journey through a world of vocal inflections and joie de vivre, to be sung with nuance and abandon.

This song is included on the CD, Finally On My Way To Yes, which may be ordered below.

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Look Listen Instrumentation/Voicing Duration Level Item Delivery Method Price Quantity SSAA a cappella - Choral Score
5'00" MA SEA-058-00 Sheet Music
$4.50 SSAA a cappella - Choral Score
5'00" MA SEA-058-00D Licensed PDF
$2.75 Finally on My Way to Yes - CD
"THE END OF INVENTORY" SALE! Choir directors, add this item to your shopping cart and make me an offer in the COMMENT FIELD! (Or just send an email.) Retail price: $10.00
60'00" SEA-CD-01 CD

Why I Pity the Woman Who Never Spills

Poem by Joan Wolf Prefontaine

For she misses the luxury of dribbling
marinara sauce on white silk,

of merlot falling at uproarious dinner
parties onto beige lace tablecloths,

picnics where mustard, baked beans,
toasted marshmallows and melted

chocolate all leave their winsome,
gregarious stains on Levis and lips.

For she misses the thrill and mess of it all:
hands infatuated with bread dough,

logic blemished all day with sly innuendoes
and double entendres, the child in the lap

with the histrionic green lime popsicle kiss,
the kettle with its secret military spices

longing in its heart of hearts to spill the beans,
mangos eaten au natural in bathtubs,

sweet-talking, profane juices softening
the millstones and milestones of the body,

the plum's intemperate noddings in a neighbor's
nonchalant field, tartness oozing like ink

across obeisant fingers, strawberries,
caught red-handed in golden-straw beds,

falling upwards towards one's mouth —
small, fierce advocates of sumptuous rendezvous.

I say to her: Spill, Spurt, Squirt, Splash, Splatter,
Spot, Spree, Sprinkle, Dribble, Drabble, Oozle,

Offend, Transcend, Transude, Transgress, Transpire,
Perspire, Percolate, Partake, Propagate, Create!

Composer's Note: 

I'm not sure there's a woman anywhere who hasn't experienced pressure to act, look, sound, and perform flawlessly, which is why Joan Wolf Prefontaine's poem is funny and tragic and triumphant all at the same time.

It is fitting that women should sing this song together, because we are both a cause for this pressure and a remedy for it.  Two contrasting experiences I had while writing this song underscored this truth for me.  I was chastised by a hostess for dripping a single drop of red wine onto her kitchen tablecloth – while two weeks earlier my friend Victoria had remarked that she particularly loved the stain on her car's ceiling, because she was almost certain that it was hot chocolate.

Performance Note:

As singers become increasingly familiar with this song, they often begin adding blues inflections to some of the A-naturals, either flattening the pitches so that they lie "in the cracks," or singing actual A-flats.  This is especially true in passages which contains a little attitude, like "Levis and lips."  I considered officially flattening some of those renegade A-naturals, but I decided not to because they aren't true A-flats; they are really "blues-inflected A-naturals."

So...although choral singing usually involves making a choir’s vocal production as uniform as possible, this piece is not about conformity!  I suggest allowing your gals to lean on some of those A-naturals with a little moxie...and let the chips spills as they may.

Reviews and Responses: 

"...A bluesy and truly inspired musical setting for women’s chorus"   - Janine Wanée, The Boston Musical Intelligencer

"We always vote on our favorite song -- Pity won hands down!!"  -  Kay Bryant, Director of Pacific Women's Chorus

"Alexander's writing for women's chorus is especially good, and...her settings of subjects relating to women's issues are exceptionally strong."  - David N. Lewis, All Music Guide


Cornell University Women's Chorus / Scott Tucker (Ithaca, NY)   * Premiere

Bella Voce Singers / Jessica Corbin (Brooklyn, NY)

Cantilena / Allegra Marin (Arlington, MA)

Good Company / Steven Hoifeldt (Ames, IA)

Imagine! / Roberta Shimensky (Salt Lake City & Park City, UT


Pacific Women's Chorus / Kay Bryant (Vista, CA)

San Francisco Girls Chorus "Alumnae Chorus" / Susan McMane (San Francisco, CA)

Sine Nomine Chorus / Robert Bartalot (Denver, CO)

Longmeadow High School "Accidentals" / Kayla Werlin ~ MassMutual Center (Springfield, MA)

University of North Carolina Women's Glee Club / Sue Klausmeyer (Durham, NC)

Voices Rising /Leora Zimmer (Needham & Boston, MA)

Longmeadow High School "Accidentals"





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