Music to Do Your Taxes By: “Lament for April 15 & Other Modern Madrigals” by The Randolph Singers



As my Libertarian friend Vic Von Vices always says, “taxation is theft.” And for millions of unwealthy Americans this year, it sure feels like it.

That’s because Hair Furor’s wonderful-sounding “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” actually made their taxes go up instead of down.

A Sandernista I know summed it up nicely with this Facebook post:

But lamentations are emanating from hordes of Trumpublicans, too.

Twitter user Direct Action Bronson went viral with a treasury of tweets by Hair Furor supporters whose uncut taxes somehow caught them by surprise, even though it was always obvious that “these tax cuts are about giving more money to the richest people in the country,” as economist Dean Baker (and every other sane person) noted at the time.

Fortunately, if you’re not among the richest people in the country, I’ve got the perfect music to soothe your tax pain.

It’s a madrigal appropriately titled “Lament for April 15.” As every American taxpayer knows, the madrigal is a form of vocal music that has been out of style for about 500 years. So in 1955 when retired banker Avery Claflin set the Income Tax to music, his decision to make it a madrigal was seemingly as absurd as his choice of lyrics.

But it all makes sense when you consider that Claflin (1898-1979) is the only known banker to study music with the French dadaist composer Erik Satie, who no doubt would’ve been amused by a madrigal that uses as its text instructions for filling out Internal Revenue Service tax forms.

And if Satie had not been long dead, he might’ve been in the audience when Claflin’s madrigal received its concert premiere in 1955 at Tanglewood, the famed summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Vic Von Vices with his favorite LP.

Fortunately, Claflin’s Lament was issued shortly thereafter on LP, as recorded by The Randolph Singers—a group of unrepentant madrigalists. As the liner notes explain, this new madrigal is a “verbatim setting of the Income Tax Instructions.”

When I scored my copy of the LP for 99 cents a few years ago, I was happy to find the original 1955 Federal Income Tax Forms booklet stuck inside the jacket, complete with the original mailing label, addressed to J E & R Stanton of 8801 S. Blackstone Avenue in Chicago! (I’m guessing the initials refer to Mr. and Mrs. Stanton, respectively.)

Best of all, Mr. or Mrs. Stanton pencil-marked the text in the booklet which serves as lyrics for the Madrigal, making it easy to lament right along with the music.

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Howard Rushmore is America's greatest amateur bartender and the spirited remains of the famous Confidential columnist of the same name.