Thursday, December 23, 2004

New Link & a Christmas Message

I found yet another great music blog, The Acoustic Woodlands, and had a nice exchange of e-mails with Marc, the proprietor. Check it out.

My favorite Christmas poem is "The Burning Babe," because for me it best expresses the essence of the holiday and the appropriate corrective to rampant commercialism and sentimentalism. That said, I have no wish to offend followers of other faiths or non-believers. This poem can be appreciated for its literary quality alone.

The Burning Babe

As I in hoary winter night stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised was I with sudden heat which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright did in the air appear;
Who scorch-ed with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed
As though His floods should quench His flames with which His tears were fed:
"Alas!" quoth He, "but newly born in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I!"
"My faultless breast the furnace is; the fuel, wounding thorns;
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke; the ashes, shames and scorns;
The fuel Justice layeth on, and Mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men's defiled souls:
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath, to wash them in my blood."
With this He vanished out of sight and swiftly sank away,
And straight I called unto mind that it was Christmas Day.
––Robert Southwell

A happy and blessed holiday season to all!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Time for a New Link

I've been visiting Scenestars lately. A good music blog maintained by a small collective, so it is highly eclectic in the way that I appreciate. Pay 'em a visit and find some good tunes.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Late Best Of Addition

For some reason I thought I had put The Gourds' Blood of the Ram on the first list. But I see I didn't. So consider it done. I would still welcome your comments and selections.

Monday, December 20, 2004

A (Sort of) Correction

My fellow blogger Darwin pointed out that the Postal Service's Give It Up is actually from 2003. So noted. However, I'll keep it on my list since I didn't discover it until this year. Nevertheless, I strive for accuracy and appreciate any attempts to keep me honest.

Friday, December 17, 2004

On Poetry

Turning back to my first artistic love and the art form I practice.

My very dear friend Naomi recently gave me a copy of Modern French Poets, edited by Wallace Fowlie. It's an excellent introduction to some poets not well known in this country. I don't know if it's in print; she found it in a second-hand shop. It's worth seeking out.

One of the poets included is Jean Cocteau. In his section I found a remarkable statement about the nature of the poet's work which I would like to excerpt here. It articulates beautifully my own belief about the nature and function of poetry, at least as I practice it.

"Do you know the surprise of finding yourself suddenly facing your own name as if it belonged to someone else, seeing its form and hearing the sound of its syllables without the blind and deaf habit which a long intimacy provides?
"The same phenomenon can take place for an object or an animal. In a flash we see a dog, a cab, a house for the first time. What is special, mad, ridiculous, beautiful in them is overwhelming. But immediately afterwards, habit rubs out this powerful image with its eraser. We pat the dog, hail the cab, inhabit the house. We don't see them any more.
"That is the role of poetry. It unveils, in the full meaning of the term. It strips bare, under a light which shatters out indifference, the surprising things around us which our senses register automatically....
"Put a commonplace in place, clean it, rub it, light it so that it will give forth with its youth and freshness the same purity it had at the beginning, and you will be doing the work of a poet.
"The rest is literature."
–from Le Secret Professionel

Thursday, December 16, 2004

A couple more

I thought of a couple more "Best Ofs" overnight:

My Morning Jacket–It Still Moves
Loretta Lynn–Van Lear Rose

Send me yours.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Best of '04

Here's the beginning of a list of my favorite CDs of this year. It is not ranked, sorted, or otherwise ordered. My tastes are eclectic as is this list.

Modest Mouse–Good News For People Who Love Bad News
The Shins–Chutes Too Narrow
Death Cab For Cutie–Transatlanticism
Wilco–A Ghost Is Born
The Postal Service–Give It Up
Ryan Adams–Love Is Hell, pt. I & II
Sam Phillips–A Boot and a Shoe
Lucinda Williams–World Without Tears
Franz Ferdinand–Franz Ferdinand
The Killers–Hot Fuss

More to come as I think of them. Please leave comments or e-mail me with your own choices. Also your favorite individual songs.

Friday, December 03, 2004

A Poem for the Weekend

I don't have anything new, but here's a golden oldie.
Appropriately it has to do with music....

“An air that kills”
(to FC, with thanks)

Music drifts into the night air
and catches my ear and I pause
as the melody takes shape
and brings a thought
just deep enough for tears.
We danced to this tune
just one time,
and that one time enough,
so long ago and long forgot
until now and your eyes
shine again and I hear
you whisper underneath
the song, a memory
that pricks without the power
to console.

(The title is taken from a poem by A.E. Housman.)
September 19, 2001

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Something New & Cool

I added another good music link. Pay a visit to Cool Hand Bak for some fine country,, Americana -- whatever you want to call it. Especially recommended: current post of a song called "Crow Jane" by Two Gallants.