Brown Bag online literary is out today including two of my contributions and many more. This issue, which they’ve titled Jackson, takes readers on a journey through the solar and lunar system in words and sounds; it highlights the individual story – and music in that story – with the complicated tangle in the biggest of big pictures. It is dedicated to Jackson Rose, described as an artist and open soul. Links to click in and listen to “Voices from The Woodland,” which Brown Bag has linked to Mercury, and “Whale Song from the Corners of Eternity,” linked to Neptune.
Many thanks to the #mmiwriders for allowing us to support and be part of the 2021 San Diego Medicine Wheel Ride. The many thousands of murdered and missing Indigenous Sisters is beyond tragic. The efforts created by #mmiw – to champion greater awareness and change – are necessary and commendable.
⊕ FAST FACTS: “In 2016, there were 5,712 cases reported of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, according to the Urban Indian Health Institute, but only 116 cases were logged in the U.S. Department of Justice database.” by Nienke Onneweer, Arizona Republic April 30, 2021.
“IN some communities, Indigenous women are sexually assaulted and murdered at rates as high as 10X the national average.” ⊕
This GRSound piece “We Still Stand” testifies to the Indigenous peoples’ resilience and tenacity. Still standing, and still celebrating after abuse and terror. (melody and keyboard Randy Anagnostis, lyric and vocal Gregory Ormson).… read more...
Music spoken word by Gregory Ormson, Russell Thorburn, Darrell Syria.
A stellar original composition and keyboard piece by this man, Randy Anagnostis, he calls “Queen Creek.” Lyric and vocal interpretation from portions of an essay I’ve been writing exploring the inner dimensions of free diving.
Anagnostis at the keyboard.
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.
Steer Your Way – From You Want it Darker, Leonard Cohen
Diversity, nature’s fail-safe, is rejected by the fearful. The mob thinks they are losing something, but they can’t describe what it is. And how will the rise and fall of a once-great country work?
It will work like humanity and the planet, all three evolving on the same arc where the end is written in the means. And the means of our present say something sinister and deadly about the ends of our personal, corporate, and planetary journey.… read more...
Words and music below for my spoken word piece accompanied by sitar.
My sitar flows in 19 bands of light: baaj, chikari, and tarab. Its journey to my hand is a mystery, but its music-medicine came to my doorstep from an old land, gripped me from the eons, and pulled my soul into its orbit. It’s a path unlike any other, bending more than notes.
A musician said, “Its all angles.”
Sitar bends the note, Saraswati dances with a swan, and because I’ve felt this resonance I participate in its step toward the depths from which rises a watery siren-song of the fathoms.
Sitar bends the note, Saraswati dances with a swan, and because I’ve felt this resonance I participate in its step toward the depths from which rises a watery siren-song of the fathoms.… read more...
Acoustic guitar and vocal response to radio talk of the northwoods.
WOJB: Radio Talk, Radio Chant
I turn the radio on and a smoky voice greets me, “Good evening everyone. You’re listening to WOJB, 88.9 FM, Woodland Community Radio from the Lac Court Oreilles in Reserve, Wisconsin, broadcasting on the Web at WOJB.ORG.
“It’s Tuesday, and I hope you’re having a good night.” The radio that’s been sitting in the same place for 40 years, goes silent . . . then a jock speaks again to his invisible community. “It’s Tuesday, isn’t it? Wait a minute, let me check . . . oh, it’s Thursday. Ok then, well I hope you’re having a good Thursday.”
Ok then, becomes my north-land talk, courtesy of WOJB, where words break through from another world. His musical voice landing quiet on the microphone, nearly a chant, and the jocks’ idiom camouflages a humor that’s easy to miss. Dead air . . . lots of it . . . and then again he’s on, “You’re listening to WOJB, Community Radio of the Northwoods.”
I sat by the wood burning stove and noted the program change. “Good evening from the mountain state of West Virginia,” someone said. And in seconds, soft notes from a wooden guitar, played on a stage in West Virginia, melted in my ear and met me in my place of dark pines and starry skies. Warmed by fire on a cold Wisconsin spring night, I sipped my drink and wondered what the air waves would bring next.
Opening the stove door to add wood, the restless child of Prometheus took oxygen and rose with the flame.… read more...
All those yellow lines we cross over in our sleep. This is how we are driving through the pandemic head on with the night and winter’s disguise. Here is Greg singing a Jesus song. Picture the musician with his guitar riding a bus across the Upper Peninsula and using a handheld mike to record the Jesus song. He departs from Jesus to read a poem entitled “Hour of the Wolf,” a homage to Ingmar Bergman and his vampire film he made with his former love Liv Ullman, who happened to be pregnant with his child. But always return to the “pilot” and those late-night scenes moving through winter on a bus. R. Thorburn
I read Thorburn’s “Hour of the Wolf,” from one of his poetry books, The Drunken Piano, shortly after its publication in 2009. I knew what it was to see my reflection in a bus window at 3:00 am, and I could hear the bus driver singing a blues song, late at night, driving his life away. I felt what it was to be mid-twenties and anxious; I knew the pinch of wire-rim glasses.
I wanted the wolfing hour to have a melody, maybe a divinity to accompany that grainy ride, and I came up with the song below – borrowing from Edward Hopper’s Hymn, “Jesus Savior Pilot Me” as a floating refrain from the incessant and noisy wheels of the bus. I saw Thorburn and the bus passengers related by anxiety to disciples in a boat on a stormy sea, and as I see many people these days, anxious about something they can’t see.… read more...
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...