I don't need to tell you, oddsong, that
defense from all perils comes in handy
in whatever forest of the night you find yourself,
so sing on and on, even (or so it goes)
at the grave, even if (as is likely)
there's no one to hear either you or the tree
that will fall on you and crush you, even
before the birds have eaten all the breadcrumbs, even
before you reach the Big Rock Candy Cathedral
where the curate has prepared a supersaturated solution
to all your problems, hope
after hope after hope, my beloved.
The photos, I'm just picking randomly...and sorry, at the moment, I can't access the commercially recorded examples, will be back in the future...but here are some links to some of the music (and these are seeming to require being copied and pasted, instead of just clicked on
This first thing is: from THIS blog post....
I've been working with a marvelous vocalist for 18 years, Rebecca Shrimpton. Paula took some voice lessons from her, and wrote a couple of great posts here on this blog about them...anyway, Rebecca has been singing my music for all of that time, most of it being settings of Paula's poetry. Rebecca and I wrote this piece together (first time for that) last January: she really liked this post and extracted song lyrics from it...I'm putting on two different performances....they're live, and raw....
This is a setting of Paula's poem about the great alto saxophonist, Julius Hemphill, performed by the rather amazing duo of George Russell Jr and Donna McElroy. Two titles with "red".
The Red Blues
This is is the JCA Orchestra, performing an early version of How To Clean A Sewer, which includes the last poem Paula wrote for me (summer of 2014), as in: I gave her the title and requested...and when I put it to use, I insisted on changing the last word to "sleep"...
When I was in music school, I suffered from a considerable lack of confidence. I was having regular meetings with one of my teachers, and when I would show him music I was working on or had finished: he would say, "Yeah, I like that", or "that's nice". And I would proceed to tell him what was wrong with it. When I would talk about ambitious projects and he'd suggest that I'd take them on, I'd tell him I wasn't ready.
Finally, one day, he said: "You know, you've got a lot of music in you, but getting it out of you is like cleaning a sewer."
So: that was the title of my piece honoring his retirement.
How To Clean A Sewer
There lie the rinds of things,
there in the shadows,
that shamed the tongue.
The wind that howls through
that matter horn;
the dervish fire hose;
the cold and smothering clods;
the snakeroots piercing
the clotted gourd
to god soul truth love hope heal heart --
there is no fix
but in ash-scour and the scent
of windfall lemons
from the grove of the last
dream before you die.
Windfall Lemons, from "How To Clean A Sewer" (2nd of three movements)
To An Angel