Monday, March 27, 2017

Dylan on triplicate

Been a couple of years, but Dylan has opened up in interview again. The occassion is the 3-cd set called Triplicate.

This music he is recording and discussing, this is what I was listening to before folk music and the Beatles. Really it wasnt until Tamborine Man and Satisfaction that I got with rocknroll. There is still an old time easy listening station on AM in Boston and everyone in my family tunes into it from time to time. The melodies and arrangements are great - and it is so removed from everything else. Through YouTube have been able to track down the Swing Vocal versions of Jazz standards (No Moon at All), and discover more deeply the lush bygone era. (I am reading by coincidence a bio of Bing Crosby by Gary Giddens, with detailed descriptions of the arrangements of his great numbers.)

So given that I appreciate that Dylan appreciates this trove of musical art. And his singing has gotten better through the process of doing the five or so CDs, but he still has so much trouble shifting his voice when the songs shift painful to hear.

I like his dicussion of rocknroll, sounds like he is firing up for a number on Hwy 61.

It was skeleton music, came out of the darkness and rode in on the atom bomb and the artists were star headed like mystical Gods....
Back then people feared the end of time. The big showdown between capitalism and communism was on the horizon. Rock and roll made you oblivious to the fear, busted down the barriers that race and religion, ideologies put up. ....

We lived under a death cloud; the air was radioactive. There was no tomorrow, any day it could all be over, life was cheap. That was the feeling at the time and I’m not exaggerating....
Groups like the Five Satins and the Meadowlarks seemed to be singing from some imaginary street corner down the block. Jerry Lee Lewis came in like a streaking comet from some far away galaxy. Rock and roll was atomic powered, all zoom and doom.....

On artistic creation:

...most everything is a knockoff of something else. You could have some monstrous vision, or a perplexing idea that you can’t quite get down, can’t handle the theme. But then you’ll see a newspaper clipping or a billboard sign, or a paragraph from an old Dickens novel, or you’ll hear some line from another song, or something you might overhear somebody say just might be something in your mind that you didn’t know you remembered. That will give you the point of approach and specific details. It’s like you’re sleepwalking, not searching or seeking; things are transmitted to you. It’s as if you were looking at something far off and now you’re standing in the middle of it. Once you get the idea, everything you see, read, taste or smell becomes an allusion to it. It’s the art of transforming things. You don’t really serve art, art serves you and it’s only an expression of life anyway; it’s not real life. It’s tricky, you have to have the right touch and integrity or you could end up with something stupid....Some people never get this and they’re left outside in the dark. Try to create something original, you’re in for a surprise.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Homage to Chuck Berry - No Money Down

Chuck Berry (Oct 28, 1926-Mar 18, 2016)

No Money Down

My cousin Derrick's Chevy!

As I was motivatin'
Back in town
I saw a Cadillac signSayin' "No Money Down"

So I eased on my brakes
And I pulled in the drive
Gunned my motor twice
Then I walked inside
Dealer came to me
Said "Trade in you Ford
And I'll put you in a car
That'll eat up the road
Just tell me what you want
And then sign on that line
And I'll have it brought down to you
In a hour's time"

I'm gonna get me a car
And I'll be headed on down the road
Then I won't have to worry
About that broken - down, raggedy Ford

"Well Mister I want a yellow convertible
Four - door de Ville
With a Continental spare
And a wide chrome wheel
I want power steering
And power brakes
I want a powerful motor
With a jet off - take
I want air condition
I want automatic heat
And I want a full Murphy bed
In my back seat
I want short - wave radio
I want TV and a phone
You know I gotta talk to my baby
When I'm ridin' alone"

Yes I'm gonna get that car
And I'm gonna head on down the road
Yeah, then I won't have to worry
About that broken - down, raggedy Ford

"I want four carburetors
And two straight exhausts
I'm burnin' aviation fuel
No matter what the cost
I want railroad air horns
And a military spark
And I want a five - year guarantee
On everything I got
I want ten - dollar deductible
I want twenty dollar notes
I want thirty thousand liability"
That's all she wrote

I got me a car
And I'm headed on down the road
No money down
I don't have to worry
About that broken - down, raggedy Ford

Friday, March 17, 2017

Let me riff a little on Kuno Meyer

Power9 die
Let me riff a little on Kuno Meyer. His name surfaced on my horizon way back. The book was Selections of Ancient Irish Poetry (1911). I bought a replicated version of the book - which was something you did back in the day on out-of-print books whose copyrights had expired. A nifty version of Selections of Ancient Irish Poetry is now on the Web via the Way Back machine.

Memorable name and it belonged to a guy who was very deep into early Irish poetry. His translations were amazing. You know there are some people (Angel Flores is another) who get it, when it comes to translating poetry.

I didn’t really know anything about Kuno himself. And was disappointed when I looked him up (cursorily) that there wasn’t much about his talent .. but there was a whole lot about his controversy.

I just learned today he was a German scholar, and he went to Great Britain as a student, and he developed a love for Irish poetry. But what he became famous for was something completely other. During WW I, before U.S. joined, he was at Harvard, and vocally favored Germany (Kaiser-era Germany, this was) ,and so he got blackballed by the English and the Irish (who were then dominated by English) and by the Americans even though it was a time when we were still neutral. Later on, after independence, the Irish reinstated some of his honorariums.

Well, here is some flavor of the scholar Meyer. An intro to Ancient Irish Poetry.  Let him speak:

" Slowly, ..., the fact is becoming recognised in ever wider circles that the vernacular literature of ancient Ireland is the most primitive and original among the literatures of Western Europe, and that in its origins and development it affords a most fascinating study. Whatever may be its intrinsic merit, its importance as the earliest voice from the dawn of West European civilisation cannot be denied."

"Religious poetry ranges from single quatrains to lengthy compositions dealing with all the varied aspects of religious life. Many of them give us a fascinating insight into the peculiar character of the early Irish Church, which differed in so many ways from the rest of the Christian world."

"In Nature poetry the Gaelic muse may vie with that of any other nation. Indeed, these poems occupy a unique position in the literature of the world. To seek out and watch and love Nature, in its tiniest phenomena as in its grandest, was given to no people so early and so fully as to the Celt. Many hundreds of Gaelic and Welsh poems testify to this fact."

Let's take a look at Meyer's thoughts on the Irish and Japanese poetry - as they dovetail with those of the recent Irish poetry champ, the late Seamus Heaney. [All this cadged from author Irene DeAngelis.] In an introduction to Ancient Irish Poetry Kuno noted that the Celts, like the Japanese, avoided the obvious in composition. "The half said thing to them is dearest." he writes. Heaney in an interview too sees a poetic kinship - a deep one:

"A devotion to succinctness, to formal concision, to delight in the natural world" as well as monkishness, asceticism, hermitage and "a response to a detail of the world that was a response to its whole mystery." 

If you follow this link… it leads to more .. and more .. of these St Patrick's Day Irish Poetry posts.

I am not much of a nature poet. In a way, I am a city boy. But I do appreciate the view on Nature of Ireland obtained in this PBS Nature documentary, while warning that this link probably wont be live forever.

And finally (see below) let's go to SoundCloud for a reading of Meyer (translation) with Cold, Cold Tonight , Heaney with Molyullah. - Jack Vaughan

The fish of Ireland are a-roaming,
There is no strand which the wave does not pound,
Not a town there is in the land,
Nor a bell is heard, no crane talks.
-From Cold Tonight

Sunday, March 12, 2017

People I saw

Jerry Garcia - After concert - We decided there was a certain energy missing that night. And as we walked from the concert we in unison sang "I'm Ready" the Muddy Waters song where he "hopes some screwball wants to fight" and lo and behold in a Checker Cab about to depart were the Gratefuls. And Jerry hearing us singing, with a bit of a limp smile somewhat nodded in our direction...Shook hands with Dick Waterman who managed Muddy, Bonnie Raitt, Skip James, Son House, many others… he had a booth...It was the Boston Blues Fest  ....William Burroughs -  I went up to him after a reading at Charles St. Reading House in 1973 and asked him a couple of questions for a story I wrote maybe for journalism class. He was open. He'd just moved back to US after many years overseas. "Is America a more or less a repressive state now?" I asked. "It's a lot more open," he said...Saw Danny Kaye around Christmas at Brentano's Book Store on 5th Ave. He was a star. Everyone fawned over him, and he was full of wit. Very New Yorkish....WWW inventor Tim Berners-Lee - I ran up and questioned him after a conf keynote in Boston at Hynes. All flustered was I. Send the question via email he said, it is much better for clarity. So true, not least of all because he talks fast. I saved the email- it's around here somewhere...Rex Harrison - At Mugar Library. He was making a visit to the Special Collections, where his letters were housed. Handsome beyond description. And suave. The entrance there was confusing, and a woman with him had trouble figuring it out. As she entered, Jim Duhamel, the security person (and an amateur actor) said "I think she's got it!" And Rex turned quick to Jim and asked "And where does it rain?" ....Saul Alinsky - did a lecture at Dominican College in Racine ca. 1968. Surprised us - we expected author of Rules for Radicals to look more like Abbie H. I was amazed when I looked him up on Pinterest by the amt of vitriol in his direction that was directed..unfortunately, he is not in a place now where he can meet these folks indivdiually to convince him of his humanity...Floyd McKissick - leader of Congress On Racial Equality on Main St. in Racine one night. I was waiting for bus. He asked me for where he could buy some whiskey. I had no idea. I asked: "Are you Mr. Floyd McKissik?" Chagrined when he looked behind me, and saw whiskey on sale at the Walgreens. Who knew? That was a Prohibition leftover, liquor on sale at drugstores ... TBC

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Again from the Vaults with Feeling: Dreamland Sea Poem

By T.W. Zickcrewe
When I first got to town I went to demarks swing club
They had them shimmy dancers – and them Shakespeare plays

When I got to that town
I found me a home
Glad but I found
the twilight zone

In a halfway house
Stuck halfway
The sun in the morning
was a big red flame


The tie-dyed streets
All looked inviting
I wore some shades
To adjust the lighting

Wandered like a sailor
with a self-distain
so I left that town
for the golden plain.


The heater I had
would freeze and die
the girls down that way
walked streets on the side

Chased a shimmy dancer
In a Shakespeare play
I left that town
For Fortuna way


the moon was a sliver
the stars were a wonder
half-sleeping in a dream
I heard Freddy Fender

the caffeine and nicotine
like rich vicuna
they’d fall off their stools
and I’d split Fortuna.


lumber trucks rolled
to the seaside nightly
all in my sleep
I was stumbling and groaning

I left that town
Id pack and go
Tracing my tracks
Too droll sleepy hollow

I met sallie moss beach
And to No surprise – she broke my heart
But was easy on the eyes

Clipped art from my sorrow
Caught glimpses of my woe.
Winding down the road
With somewhere to go


I liked it in the zone
Moved on nonetheless
But I left those towns
On a peter pan bus

I heard a blues
& Found a physics text
I got god smacked
And I got god blessed


Oh Fortuna don’t you lie to me
Don’t say Thomas Pynchon was just baking beans

I headed out for the dreamland sea………
I left that town
Cause it bothered me.

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