Florence Welch’s New Song Will Make You Love Shakespeare

Listen to “When in Disgrace with Fortune and Men’s Eyes (Sonnet 29)”

by daniel barna

High school English teachers across the world, rejoice. Florence Welch just made Shakespeare cool again. To mark the 40th anniversary of literature's most revered writer, Rufus Wainwright is producing an anthology of Billy Shakespeare's sonnets interpreted by a diverse group of contemporary artists. Welch will be joined by the likes of Helena Bonham Carter, Carrie Fisher, Martha Wainwright, and William Shatner on Take All My Loves: 9 Shakespeare Sonnets, due April 22 via Deutsche Grammophon.

You can listen to a snippet of Welch's contribution above, in which she partners with Wainwright on “When in Disgrace with Fortune and Men’s Eyes (Sonnet 29),” and transforms it into a melodic, harp-heavy lullaby. The ambitious project is an interesting showcase for Shakespeare's lesser-known work, something Wainwright was cognizant of when he conceived it. 

"I guess a fair number of people know the sonnets, but the plays are the centerpiece of Shakespeare's legend," he told Billboard. "But I've found in working with the sonnets they even transcend the plays, though to even fathom that is inconceivable since the plays are so amazing. But once you start to get into the sonnets it takes on this timeless, ageless, almost futuristic quality. So much of the language and so much of the sentiment is contemporary—gender and sexuality and love and hate are just so plainly exhibited that it's really searing."

Listen to Welch's interpretation of “When in Disgrace with Fortune and Men’s Eyes (Sonnet 29),” below.