There Was a Canterbury Tales Musical

Yes, with lyrics direct from the Nevill Coghill translation. Believe it or not. It’s a musical heavily influenced by “madrigal rock,” folk pop, and calypso. (Yeah, people used to think of all those things as a lump. And really, calypso is a kind of folk music.) There’s also a lot of brass and lounge-jazz music, and even acid rock. Very odd. I suspect if done today, people would want to do different orchestral arrangements.

It’s also a two-part musical, with different versions given on different nights.

Here’s a sample from the original London cast recording – a short intro by Chaucer, and then a song sung by the character Nicholas from “The Miller’s Tale.” Yes, it’s all innuendo, but still not super-duper work-safe. People don’t think of that word meaning “rooster” these days.

In a fittingly Chaucerian twist, Jerry Weintraub claims to have gotten the American production rights to the musical by faking a heart attack.

The rest of these are from a recording of the Broadway cast, which apparently wasn’t as good as the London production but still okay. Sandy Duncan was in it, which is pretty surreal. I’m not going to link them all, but they’re all worth a listen, if only for the oddness.


Chaucer’s Prologue (prose).

“Song of Welcome” – Harry Bailey the innkeeper introduces himself.

“Canterbury Day” is the start of the trip.

“It Depends on What You’re At” – The Wife of Bath describes her previous pilgrimages.

“Love Will Conquer All” — The Prioress’ song. Very pretty. A slightly different “Love Will Conquer All” full reprise. This could be a real hymn.

“Come On and Marry Me, Honey” – The Wife of Bath, played by Hermione Baddeley. 🙂

“Where Are the Girls of Yesterday?”

Wedding Song
and “If She Has Never Loved Before” – the old husband guy in the story.

“What Do Women Want?” – Knight

“Goodnight Hymn” – must be the end of an act or of the musical.

“April Song” – pretty much the end.

Chaucer’s Epilogue (prose) and “Love Will Conquer All” reprise

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