Documentary about the Langley Schools Music Project

Several years ago, VH1 made a documentary about the Langley Schools Music Project, and you can watch the whole thing on YouTube. If you're not hip to the Langley Schools Music Project, you're in for a real treat. Between 1976 and 1977, music teacher Hans Fenger and a group of middle school students recorded two albums of the 9-12 year olds singing rock and pop tunes by the likes of the Beach Boys, David Bowie, Neil Diamond, and Klaatu. In 2000, a record collector picked up a copy in a thrift store and sent it to outsider music expert and WFMU DJ Irwin Chusid who busted his tail to get the albums re-issued on a single CD, titled Innocence & Despair. The recordings are bittersweet, simultaneously bleak and hopeful, and beautiful.


  1. Despite until only recently having thought this song was about a Major Tong, which I admit is incredibly sad, the pathos here is amazing.  Even the kid who did the cymbals one outrageous beat too late every time added to it, i’m weeping.

  2. Wow, there’s a doc about this? Excellent, thank you.

    “Desperado” has long been on my playlist. “Sweet Caroline” is up there too.

    1. Yup – I’ve never forgotten that little girl’s rendition of ‘Desperado’ since I first heard it.  It’s right up there with the original and Johnny Cash’s.

  3. it really is an amazing album. it’s completely cheesy, completely heartfelt, completely heartbreaking, and completely inspiring all in one go.

  4. This is a favorite album I purchased a few years ago on eBay.   I purchased it, unheard, thinking/hoping it would be similar to Portmouth Sinfonia,, which, as a musician, is hilarious to listen to.  The Langley Project disappointed me for the purpose of humor, but that was because there is a musicality and truth captured on it that transcended the technical issues.  

    We live in an age, now, where any studio or classical recording is so thoroughly edited to correct mistakes and alter nuance that we no longer get a genuine temporal expression of music within the realm of human capability.   There are literally thousands of digital splices in any 21st century symphonic recording.  What  you hear now may be the result of human decisions and human expression–but besides Alan Parsons, when was the last time you bought an album because of who the sound editors were?

    The Langley Schools Music Project is genuine and represents more truth in human musical expression than almost anything coming out of a studio now.

  5. Okay, I watched it–wonderful stuff, thanks again. 

    Truly heartwarming and inspiring. Makes me think those two words aren’t worn out after all.

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