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I am home where Falcon Ridge meets the confluence of other rivers in my life. My notebook and mind full of thoughts to organize and post in my blog. Snippets of songs play in my head. Patty Larkin sings, “I read the Bible everyday, Trying to keep the demons at bay”. Brother Sun sings “St. Christopher protect us from the cold and stormy sea”. All of this is followed by “St. Anthony Lost and Found” sung by Gina Forsyth.
Soon, I will post more; poems that I wrote, reflections on various performances, and whatever else comes to mind, but first, I need to get back to my day job. I need to fit all of this into the greater journey; poetry group on Tuesday, an important meeting on Wednesday.
As I prepare for my daily get ready for work shower, different from that wonderful first, home from Falcon Ridge shower, I think, twenty-four hours ago, I was sitting on a hill talking with my neighbors and best friends for the weekend, preparing to put out the tarp I would sit upon for the rest of the day. I think of the song we all stand on the hill together and sing, as we head back home, “never turning back”.
Ticket sales for next year’s Falcon Ridge go on sale in February.
This evening, I went to hear Jonatha Brooke at The Kate in Old Saybrook. It is very late, too late for me to try and write anything very coherent, but I want to get down some of my thoughts, even if I’ll need to finish them later.
One of the songs she sang was parts of some of Woody Guthrie’s writing, including one with the words, “Finish Later” at the bottom. When I heard that, I knew that would be, at least part of my quick evening post.
It seems like more and more of my writing is falling into the finish later category, ideas for blog posts, parts of poems.
It made me think of a poem by Billy Collins about unfinished poems by Paul Valery, January in Paris. These partial memories make me think of another poem by Billy Collins, Forgetfulness.
But this is a digression. Another song Jonatha Brooke sang was about her mother as the Alzheimer’s took hold. “Are you getting this down?” her mother would ask her. I’m trying to get some of my reactions to this evening’s music down.
One of the things she spoke about between songs was about that doubt that wracks all writers. I touched on this doubt in a recent blog post talking about Lent and The Accuser. It relates to my daughter’s book, Don’t Make Art, Just Make Something. I’m sure there is material here for me to explore in my discernment process. Where does art, being a creator created in the image of The Creator, yet tormented by doubt about being good enough, a good enough writer, among other things, fit in?
One other song she sang was about when her mother went into hospice and she wasn’t ready. She sang about The Last Call, and Red Molly’s song “The Last Call” came to mind. Poetry, music, art, woven together with doubt, uncertainty, reconnecting art to daily life, reconnecting spirituality to art and to daily life.
There is so much more that needs to be written about all of this, when I’m not over tired, when I have more time. So this, too, will end with
I can’t remember when I first came across Edna. It was probably during a high school poetry class, or perhaps scanning through an anthology. She didn’t make much of an impression. Years later, I saw a one person play about her. It was at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which I went to regularly back in the 80s. It was a long time ago, and I would often see five or six plays a day, so I must admit, I don’t remember much about the one person play, other than that I enjoyed it.
My next encounter with Edna St. Vincent Millay was as I was listening to the emerging artists selected to play at Falcon Ridge in 2015. One group, was Liz and the Family Tree. I had problems finding them; eventually finding Liz Queler and Seth Farber and their album, The Edna Project. Like with my experience of Edna at the Edinburgh Festival, the songs from the Edna project blended into the mix of the twenty four emerging artists. I enjoyed them, but couldn’t especially remember any of them. In my notes about the emerging artists, I shared a link to their webpage and Facebook page, and simply stated that I hadn’t found a favorite song from them yet.
In December, Liz contacted me on Facebook saying she had just come across my blog post and offered to send me a CD. I must admit, I don’t listen to CDs much anymore. Most of the music I listen to is streaming, but I accepted and when the CD came, I had to figure out where to play it. My laptop doesn’t have a CD player and the CD player in the family room hasn’t been set up for years.
It turns out, however, that my car does have a functioning CD player, and I was looking for something new to listen to on my commute. So, for the past several days, I’ve been listening to The Edna Project repeating on the CD player for an hour and a half each day as I drive to and from work.
I guess a good way to start to think about The Edna Project is to wonder, what would it be like if Edna St. Vincent Millay were a twenty first century singer songwriter? What would it be like, if she trekked from her place in Austerlitz over to Hillsdale?
My teenage daughter has grown up going to Falcon Ridge. She kicked along to the music of Jian Ghomeshi in her mother’s belly. Later, probably when she was around five, she ran up to Dan Navarro to tell him that her favorite song was “Teacher Teacher”. Then, it became Freebo’s “She Loves My Dog More Than Me” that was her favorite song. As she approached her teen years, she started listening to Katy Perry and Taylor Swift and has now moved on to My Chemical Romance, Fallout Boy, and Panic at the Disco. Their music surrounds her just about everywhere she goes.
As I listened to The Edna Project, I could not help but think what a better place this world would be if more teenaged girls listened to Liz Queler and Seth Farber singing the poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay. There is a nuance and subtlety in their music that is missing from most pop music, and there is at least as much romance and intrigue.
So, what songs do I like best from The Edna Project? I’m still not clear. They mingle together in my mind. “There will be rose and rhododendron … The chilly apple from the grass warmed by your living hand … Blessed be death that took my love… like a fish scale or a butterfly’s wing…but, oh, the little hill they took, - I think I am its mother…wonder what sort of people could have had this house before … I will plant bergamot at my kitchen-door…we neither kissed nor spoke …If I can’t be sorry, why, I might as well be glad…scattering the blue dragon-flies… I knew her for a little ghost …”
The CD is still in my car player, and I’m wondering, what other collections of sung, or even read poetry can I find next? I’m listening to Billy Collins read his poetry aloud, and looking for other poetry to listen to in the car.
Not only would the world be a better place is more teenage girls were listening to The Edna Project, but more poets and songwriters should too, and there should be more projects like The Edna Project. It seems like putting Emily Dickinson’s poetry to music other than the Yellow Rose of Texas might be a good step.
Well, it’s almost time. Today was the last Sunday of the liturgical year. Thursday we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day and then next Sunday, will be the first Sunday of Advent. So, it is time to put together a list of seasonally appropriate music.
As a good Episcopalian, that does not mean Christmas songs, and particularly does not mean songs about Grandma getting run over by Reindeer, and other such songs. We are entering the season of Advent.
So, I looked in the 1982 Hymnal for a list of Advent Hymns. There are fourteen in that category, although I’m sure there are other hymns that are appropriate for Advent.
I went out and searched Spotify to see how many of them I could find there. I found eight. As I started playing through them, I found that two of them were on albums of Advent music, so I added the eight hymns and two albums into an Advent Playlist.
I will continue to seek other music to add to this list. Let me know if you have any recommendations.