Poetry of music: Wooden you sing along?

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Although I don’t usually post adverts here in The World According to Brother Ian, sometimes I do, because that’s where the music is (gotta listen, everywhere!)

This one is trying to sell wood-cased cell phones, but the way it gets there is pretty awesome…give a listen:

https://youtu.be/c84C6YZirzE

Poetry in music: “Love Someone,” with Jason Mraz & Raining Jane

Jason Mraz, with Raining Jane (Mai, center; Chaska, bottom right; Mona, bottom left; and Becky, top left)
Jason Mraz, with Raining Jane (Mai, center; Chaska, bottom right; Mona, bottom left; and Becky, top left)

Love Someone, by Jason Mraz

Love is a funny thing
Whenever I give it – it comes back to me
And it’s wonderful to be giving with my whole heart
As my heart receives your love

Oh, ain’t it nice this life we got each other
I am right beside you
More than just a partner or a lover,
I’m your friend

When you love someone
Your heartbeat beats so loud
When you love someone
Your feet can’t feel the ground
Shining stars all seem to congregate around your face
When you love someone
It comes back to you

And love is a funny thing
It’s making my blood flow with energy
And it’s like an awakened dream
Oh what I’ve been wishing for is happening
And it’s right on time

Oh ain’t it nice tonight we got each other
I am right beside you
More than just a partner or a lover
I’m your friend

When you love someone
Your heartbeat beats so loud
When you love someone
Your feet can’t feel the ground
Shining stars all seem to congregate around your face
When you love someone

When you love someone

I gonna give myself to love tonight
I’ll lift you up to touch the moonlight
And we will savor every second we
Spend together you and I will

We’re gonna give ourselves to love tonight
Lifting up to touch the starlight
And we will savor every second we
Suspend together you and I will
You and I will, you and I will

When you love someone
Your heartbeat beats so loud
When you love someone
Your feet can’t feel the ground
Shining stars all seem to congregate
Around your face when you love someone
When you love someone
It comes back to you

Poetry of music: Playing for change, with the Grateful Dead’s “Ripple”

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If there’s a video that encompasses the global impact of the Grateful Dead, it’s this one as musicians in Italy, Israel, Ghana, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Illinois and many other states and countries come together to contribute to this montage centered around “Ripple.” Among the musicians included David Crosby, Jimmy Buffett, David Hidalgo and of course, Bill Kreutzmann, along with a slew of others.

The video was created in support of the Playing for Change Foundation’s music schools and programs for children worldwide. More information on the “Ripple Effect” campaign can be found here. Watch the full video below.

Poetry: Open me, close me

Opening of the day, closing of the night, and the awakening of the light within me....early morning at the ferry terminal in Anacortes, Washington, USA
Opening of the day, closing of the night, and the awakening of the light within me….early morning at the ferry terminal in Anacortes, Washington, USA, with the sun behind Mount Baker. Photo by Ian Byington.

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

~e. e. cummings

Poetry of music: Across the Universe

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Across the Universe, by the Beatles (John Lennon)

Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup
They slither wildly as they slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my opened mind
Possessing and caressing me
Jai Guru Deva OM

Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes
They call me on and on across the universe
Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box
They tumble blindly as they make their way across the universe
Jai Guru Deva OM

Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Sounds of laughter, shades of life are ringing through my open ears
Inciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love which shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on, across the universe
Jai Guru Deva OM

Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva

Poetry of music: My Sweet Lord, with George

George
George

You’ve heard it, so many times…when George first came up with what became his most famous song as a solo performer (rivalling “Something,” with the Beatles), he was reluctant to record such an overt religious message-song: “I was sticking my neck out on the chopping block because now I would have to live up to something,” Harrison explained in I Me Mine.

“But at the same time I thought, ‘Nobody’s saying it; I wish somebody else was doing it.'”

So…he said it.

Mixing Hare Krishna chanting with a joyous Hallelujah, he confounded conventional music at the time by popping out a #1 hit for his first post-Beatles release. Reflecting George’s oft-stated hope for a closer and direct connection with God, this all made sense.

As John Lennon famously told a reporter around this time, “Every time I put the radio on, it’s ‘Oh my Lord’ – I’m beginning to think there must be a God!”

Thanks, George.

Poetry of music: Circle ’round…both sides, now

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Joni Mitchell

Back to when it all started…here’s Joni on the CBC in ’68 with Both Sides Now & The Circle Game in the days when her star was rising, and people began to see & feel the way she gave voice to a generation.

When she write it in 1967, she noted where it began:

I was reading Saul Bellow’s “Henderson the Rain King” on a plane and early in the book Henderson the Rain King is also up in a plane. He’s on his way to Africa and he looks down and sees these clouds. I put down the book, looked out the window and saw clouds too, and I immediately started writing the song. I had no idea that the song would become as popular as it did.

Pete Seeger wrote an extra verse for the song, which he added with Joni’s permission in a 1970 duet (here it here) :

Daughter, daughter, don’t you know,
you’re not the first to feel just so?
But let me say before I go,
it’s worth it anyway.

Someday we may all be surprised.
We’ll wake and open up our eyes
and then we will realize
the whole world feels this way.

We’ve all been living upside down
and turned around with love unfound
until we turn and face the sun.
Yes, all of us, everyone.

Meanwhile, The Circle Game is a reminder that young people want to be old, and older people come to a place where they wish they were younger, and either way, it just a circle….

Thanks, Joni!

The music of poetry: from “The Uses of the Body,” with Deborah Landau

Woman Opens Curtain – photo by Sergey Nivens

There’s a lot to like in this wonderful verse from Deborah Landau’s The Uses of the Body.  I think the line that got me, on my first read – was “See how caught up we are/in our habitual flying pattern,” which reminded me of Pema Chödrön’s note: “No one ever tells us to stop running away from fear…the advice we usually get is to sweeten it up, smooth it over, take a pill, or distract ourselves, but by all means make it go away.” That “advice” helps cement the patterns, so we can dodge that confrontation with fear.

But the body, besides helping define the “flying patterns” that we hold so desperately onto, also gives us the chance to find the real sweetness of life, to give us the chance (as Landau says) to explore both the chance to wake up & illusion. And you just have to like someone who mentions that one of the basic pleasures is Keats.

You’re in for a treat. Thanks for your words & your art, Dr. Landau!
Brother Ian

++++++++++++++++

from The Uses of the Body
Deborah Landau

The uses of the body are manifold.
Lips, fingers, the back of the neck.

One should make as full a use as possible
before time’s up. In Paradise,

you should appreciate. Don’t squander.
Take a deep juicy bite then swallow.

Peaches are meant for tasting.
A lapping up. In Paradise

we lay and many afternoons
brought pleasure and relief.

*

Men look at you like you have the thing they want.
That somber hungry forcefield smack on.

It lies there. Is he aware?
I cannot see where this will end.

I can see where I need to go
but never get there. It’s operatic.

When I lie in bed my limbs go numb.
When the sky darkens.

The urge is there
but also the mandate

to damp it down.
Always the urge.

Always the mandate.
You’re still young, he says,

but youth will burst all at once
and be gone forever.

*

The uses of the body are wake up.
The uses of the body, illusion.

The uses of the body. Rinse repeat.
To make another body.

September. Draw the blanket up.
Lace your shoes.

The major and minor passions.
Sunlight. Hair.

The basic pleasures. Tomatoes, Keats,
meeting a smart man for a drink.

The uses of the body.
It is only a small house. It gets older.

Its upper and lower.
Its red and white trim.

It’s tempting to gloss over this part,
so you won’t really see me.

*

The uses of the body are heavy and light.
Raspberries, cradles, houses in Maine.

Biopsies, second opinions, MRIs.
I am cozy, I am full of want until chest pain,

until a heavy cramp. The pain of form.
See how caught up we are

in our habitual flying patterns
until we have to look the unfair doctor in the eye.

The genitals are irrelevant then.
Dr. Rutkowski, what was it you said?

++++++++++++++

 

DeborahLandau_NewBioImage2015-SarahShatzDeborah Landau is the author of three books of poems, includingThe Uses of the Body (Copper Canyon Press, 2015).

She teaches in and directs the Creative Writing Program at New York University and lives in Brooklyn.

“Landau’s killer wit evokes Dorothy Parker crossed with Sylvia Plath — leaping spark after spark, growing to deadly dark fire. ‘The Uses of the Body’ is her best book, its acerbic tone (‘The uses of the body, illusion’) interspersed with lines of grave and startling beauty.”  Los Angeles Times

Here’s more about Deborah: http://www.deborahlandau.net/

Poetry: Expect Nothing, by Alice Walker

from-debExpect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.
Become a stranger
To need of pity
Or, if compassion be freely
Given out
Take only enough
Stop short of urge to plead
Then purge away the need.

Wish for nothing larger
Than your own small heart
Or greater than a star;
Tame wild disappointment
With caress unmoved and cold
Make of it a parka
For your soul.

Discover the reason why
So tiny human midget
Exists at all
So scared unwise
But expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.

Alice Walker