In describing Welsh poet and prose writer Dylan Thomas’ 1947 poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night,” Denise Levertov wrote, “it is a rapturous ode to the unassailable tenacity of the human spirit.” Here, Randy Anagnostis and I create an interpretation for today with a few lines from Thomas’ poem.
Russell Thorburn and Gregory Ormson have worked together for over a decade writing original poems, prose, and music. Much of it happens in spite of distance and isolation. The eight songs/poems posted over the next 8 days of April will close out NATIONAL POETRY MONTH for 2020.
Russell Thorburn plays “Chelsea Hotel,” a composition he wrote to celebrate Dylan Thomas. The hotel is similar to a whale swimming through the Atlantic humpbacked Ocean of New York City, and lives are certainly made of vibrations, artists and poets who swam through the hallways and never reached shore. In the song Dylan opens the door to Death wearing a Fifth Avenue gown and black gloves; he is there at his typewriter to finish the last pages of Under Milk Wood.
Substitute Thomas for Ormson’s memoir and corners of eternity, and don’t answer the door. “Chelsea Hotel” was performed at the Beaumier Folk Series Concert in 2014, Northern Michigan University. I was on piano and mumbling the lyrics. Here is the basic piano track in another gummersound recording. R. Thorburn
Free diving in Hawaii opened me to a whale song’s sonic jangling my synapses and brain cells. It came to me from deep down and far out. Sounds swam through the water and past my cochlea until my inner ear caught humpback aria as it rearranged maps in my head.
Under the waves, I heard the ecstatic; it was accompanied by sweeter-still unheard melodies of which John Keats wrote. Years later, I’m still trying to make sense of it all, like the yellow-robed priests: Mayan, Incan, or Egyptian, who crumbled into the dust at such otherworldly ditties. … read more...
Hear “When I Get Back to Marquette,” and “Mescalero Territory.”
Russell Thorburn, NEA recipient, is the author of four books of poems. His last book, Somewhere We’ll Leave the World, was published by Wayne State University Press. Currently he is producing and directing his one-act play Bomb Shelter for Black Box Theater at Northern Michigan University, where he teaches composition. It will premiere March, 2020, and includes original music for the end of the world that never happened in the sixties. www.russthorburn.com
Gregory Ormson, writer and musician living in Arizona, has collaborated with Thorburn over the last decade on word and poem projects. He writes on music, yoga, motorcycling, and landscape.
“Mescalero Territory” Lyric and voice, Russell Thorburn. Sitar, Gregory Ormson, engineered at Gummersound Studio, Marquette, Michigan. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7CJeFLGYOO8YVB0NjFQSUFhR0dJV09kSjlVZ2daTk5uYU9Z/view?usp=sharing
“When I Get Back to Marquette” Russell Thorburn, Marquette, Michigan lyric; Gregory Ormson, Mesa, Arizona, music, guitar, vocal, and lyric adaptation; Mike Bjella, clarinet, Montreal, Quebec; Peter Gummerson, Marquette, Michigan, sound engineering. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1CiqMkl6W9OOuS82qWe-LASo3ytH_FNLw/view?usp=sharing