Category Archives: Music

Upcoming Review by Rose Gluck

screen-shot-2017-02-08-at-10-39-00-am

On her WordPress blog “Words and Pictures” writer and reviewer Rose Gluck announces her forthcoming review of my book Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road.  I appreciate her selecting my book to review, but also her mission to explore the stories of everyday lives: an important cultural, historical, and literary endeavor.  See her original blog post below, and stay tuned for her review.


Rose Gluck of Words and Pictures: It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here on Words and Pictures. I’ve been pretty busy on several projects but am finally back here on my blog to share stories of everyday lives. I am in the final stretch of my dissertation so I’ve been very focused on that. My work -as you might . . . [click on this link to see the whole post: Been Out of Touch – Upcoming Projects here on Words and Pictures — Words and Pictures]

Rabbit Lane: Published!

rabbit_lane_cover_for_kindle

I have so enjoyed sharing my Rabbit Lane blog with all of you, my friends.  Today I am pleased to announce that my book Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road has been published in print and for Kindle.

Rabbit Lane tells the story of a humble country dirt road, of its human history, of its natural beauty, and of its ability to bring insight, understanding, transformation, and healing to those who mindfully walk it.  The book contains stories and poems, songs and photographs, musings and observations about life and nature, that will amuse and inspire.  Rabbit Lane helps us to slow down and pay attention to the beauty around us and within us.

You can find Rabbit Lane as a full-color Kindle download at Amazon, and the black-and-white print book both at Amazon and CreateSpace.

My greatest hope is that my stories, poetry, and music will inspire you and bring you joy.  I would love to hear from you as you read.

Deo Song

20160531_112804

I sang for years with an excellent 200-voice choir, the Salt Lake Choral Artists.  My last concerts were sung in St. Ambrose Catholic church in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Beautiful scenes in stained glass stretched floor to ceiling along both side walls.  The concert-goers sat in hard oaken pews, pleasing us with loud applause.  Once we performed selections from Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass,” a modern and moving work.  “Sing God a new song,” we sang.  After the concert, I noticed a stooped, white-haired man sitting in the back row, tears in his eyes.  I said hello, and he thanked me for the music.  I imagined some of his life’s emotions, and wrote this poem before leaving the church.

DEO SONG

He had sung his lifetime,
raised his voice to the Lord altissimus,
lifted his broken wholeness to Kyrie in excelsis,
Qui tollis pecata mundi,
weeping to the precise glide of the white baton.

He partakes, now, from the back row,
his back twisted, head bowed—
still the tears.

Translation of the Latin:

Deo:  God

Altissimus:  The highest

Kyrie in excelsis:  Lord on high

Qui tollis pecata mundi:  Who took upon himself the sins of the world

Separation

100_0917

The week I moved out I began singing again with the Salt Lake Choral Artists, a 200-voice audition community choir.  I needed the music.  Music to soothe my anxiety and sadness at being separated after 25 years of marriage.  At times waves of sadness crashed over me, ground me into the gravel of life.  I needed the music.  Our Christmas and holiday repertoire included some of the most moving melodies I had ever heard.  In one rehearsal the director shouted at me, “Everybody is singing here!”  I nodded, but my throat was choked up and tears stung my eyes.  I needed this music.  Still, the long drive “home” after rehearsal on dark, freezing winter nights, terminating at my construction zone apartment, mattress on the floor, wardrobe in my duffel, the thermostat set at 50, brought the waves crashing again, the music notwithstanding.  This poem attempts to describe that difficult time.

SEPARATION

The cold brings it on,
and the darkness.
The long drive dredges it
up, even after
the singing, after
three hours of wonderful
singing, the long winter drive
to a place that wasn’t home,
where I shivered in my bed
and thought of the woman
that used to be mine.

Ceumar

IMG-20160111-WA0011

(Photo by Elizabeth Mills)

Having lived twice in Brazil (including the occasion of my birth), I have come to adore Brazilian music.  Though Brazil boasts many greats, like folk artist Dorival Caymmi and bossa nova pioneer Carlos Antonio Jobim, my favorite Brazilian vocalist is Ceumar.  This lovely woman’s lovely name means Sky and Sea.  Smitten by her silky, perfect voice, and inspired by her versatile repertoire, I wrote her this poem.

CEUMAR

Ceumar:
where ocean touches sky,
blue on blue,
often tender, assuaging,
at times roiling and violent
and black,
where the boundary
always is unclear,
where always I hear
music: of earth, of water,
of heaven.

I messaged this poem to Ceumar through Facebook, and she responded with grace and appreciation.

My favorite of all Ceumar’s songs is “Jabuticaba Madura”, which she composed herself and sings solo while playing acoustic guitar.  (You can watch her on You Tube.)  In the song, Ceumar compares the small, brown Jabuticaba fruit to a lover’s eyes.  Here is my rough translation of the lyrics.  (I apologize for the loss of nuance and rhyme.)

Ripe Jabuticaba fruit,
not yet fallen underfoot,
hovers shining in the tree,
giving me the desire
to know what it is.
Thus are your eyes.
Who can resist
discovering their dark secret.
Let me be that woman.

Let me climb up to you.
Let me choose you.
Let me taste your sweetness.
Let me lose myself in you.
Blackberry, plum, guava,
mango, breadfruit:
none can compare.
Let me give you a small, dark piece
of the fruit of my heart.

In her music, Ceumar combines quintessential Brazilian sounds and rhythms with the instruments and styles of their European and African roots, including the clarinet, mandolin, accordion, and violin.  Her repertoire avoids shallow pop in favor of mature, deep, moving, and fun music and lyrics.  In my opinion, Ceumar is a genius of Brazilian folk and popular music and culture.  And her voice is nothing short of heavenly.

Church Bells

IMG_3904

(Liberty Bell, Philadelphia, PA)

Walking in the snow on Rabbit Lane I began thinking about Christmas bells ringing from church towers all over the celebrating world.  I pondered the many emotions associated with pealing church bells.  Happiness in marriage.  Sorrow in death.  Fear in disaster.  Hope that “all is well”.  The Liberty Bell rang in joyful celebration of America’s independence.  I composed this song about church bells at Christmastime, attempting to embrace all of these emotions, especially excitement at the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the World.  Here is the sheet music for you to enjoy: Church Bells.

Christmastime

 20151205_103756

My favorite part of Christmas is playing Christmas music all the month of December.  For me, Christmas music brings out the Christmas spirit like nothing else.  And I’m not talking about songs that celebrate a reindeer’s red nose and such, but about the hymns and carols that celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the world.  My family gathers each Christmas Eve to recite the story of Jesus’ birth and to sing the songs of Christmas.  I previously posted my little Christmas lullaby Nativity.  With this post I bring you the happy song Christmastime.  What it may lack in musical sophistication it hopefully makes up for in simple Christmas cheer.  Here is the sheet music for you to enjoy: Christmastime.

20151205_101728

The star on my 30-inch-tall Christmas tree is this Pysanky egg blown, waxed, and dyed by my daughter Laura (20).  I treasure it.