Monday, November 17th, 2014
— My friend, you are a barbarian. You paint as if one eye were on the moon and the other on Mars. I don't like your work; but you have made me weep. And tears are the blood of sincerity. Cool -- two publications in a row of Marta Aponte Alsina translations! A story I translated last year is included in the November issue of The Acentos Review -- 1955: Lavender Mist.
Saturday, November 15th, 2014
Some folk music for your perusal --
The Modesto Kid -- Very happy with this playlist of folk tunes and covers that I've been recording over the past few months. (Primarily happy about this since I am really enjoying listening to it -- the thing that most strongly motivates my playing music is how much I enjoy listening to the tapes -- is this an embarrassing thing to admit? And happy as well about the prospect of other people digging the tunes. So please take a listen!) Here's a track listing and a couple of annotations.
I seem to have happened on a rhythmick formulation through which one can transform a song: a way to create a totally new song on the structure of a traditional or a popular tune. I've been recording a lot of songs transformed through this method -- this method of altering the song's beat and key and (in consequence) twisting even the melody and lyric itself as necessary -- and here lay out some of the fruits of that project.
"Here Comes the Sun" is the most recent of the group -- I made this recording on the spur of the moment and it is what revealed to me that the project was complete.
"Bring it in over to my house, mama," by Blind Willie McTell. Excellent, excellent, exciting ragtime lick! (Thanks, Dylan, for the introduction to Blind Willie McTell -- thanks, Erik Frandsen, for teaching me this song.)
"Ballad of Hollis Brown" is one of the saddest songs I've ever heard. (The three saddest songs I can think of are all by Bob Dylan; the fourth is a traditional number sung by Dylan.) I'll put this in a category with several other trax here as a song that I could picture being traditional. Just hoping I can do my bit to help turn these songs into traditional numbers :)
We been playin' some old-time favorites. Here's "Tell Old Bill." I know this song from the Chad Mitchell Trio. Not totally sure whether it is by Dave Van Ronk or traditional* :)
"Richland Woman Blues" by MS John Hurt, which I know via Jim Kweskin & the Jug Band. I'm no Maria Muldaur but I sure do love to sing that lilting melody! Another one I learned from Erik Frandsen.
(Turning the recorder back on, here's) "Stagger Lee" (hey finally an actually traditional traditional!) -- another tune that I know via Mississippi John Hurt. He's the first delta blues artist I ever really got into.
alright now here's something a little different. A version of John B. (this is a song deeply rooted in my memory of childhood campfire sing-alongs.) I'm never quite sure what to make of this narrative (to tell the truth) but I love the melody/the sound and sentiment of it.
This recording has a flaw and I ought to redo it, same goes for a couple of other trax here. Apologies if I have not addressed this already. Oh my god I feel so broke up.
dig the solo. (now let's see how that came out.)
kooky little instrumental. was finally able to figure out a dramatic way to end this lick. nice.
Oh yes! Lady waters and the hooded one! made up changes! This is a song off Element of Light by Robyn Hitchcock. Seems totally like a much older, traditional ballad. Great story! (Each time I sing it I wonder why exactly, the hooded one would have recoiled from Lady Waters' sickness? -- seems like as Death he'd have been into that kind of thing.) Extremely erotic song about death and Death.
"desolation row." (grin, shrug) A possibly self-indulgent tribute to an idol. If you're not into that sort of thing, skip it. Otherwise enjoy! :) This song's story-line is a bit harder to follow -- definitely there are moments of insight if you look/listen closely enough. Listen to Cinderella sweeping up, on Desolation Row.
another kooky little instrumental to bracket the two long vocals :)
"wish you were here" (speaking of tributes to idols), featuring me and John as Mountain Station. dig the solo/dig the harmony!
"12 gates to the city". Hey everyone: if you haven't gotten to see "Harlem Street Singer" yet, go find a way to see it! I've rewritten a Gary Davis gospel number a fair bit, came up with something new :) -- threw in a little Apocamon imagery. You owe it to yourself to listen to Gary Davis, and to watch the film if you get the chance.
"taps" (on balalaika :)) -- goodnight.
Saturday, October 25th, 2014
ok, check *this* out: https://soundcloud.com/the-modesto-kid/desolation-row-capo-6
#desolationrow #coverversion #dylancovers
Sunday, October 19th, 2014
"Be quiet the doctor's wife said gently, let's all keep quiet, there are times when words serve no purpose, if only I, too, could weep, say everything with tears, not have to speak in order to be understood."
-- Blindness, Jose Saramago
"Doc tried calling her name but of course words out here were only words."
-- Inherent Vice, Thomas Pynchon
It is difficult for me to express what a great idea this mash-up is. I can almost picture the notional Ginsburg out on stage with the Dead. Which indeed I think he did interact with them some times. Absolutely riveting. I must congratulate and thank Brendon Banks.
This is the kind of pairing that makes you see each component in a new light. The poem, below the fold.
Saturday, October 18th, 2014
L'ortolano, o Ortaggi in una ciotola by Giuseppe Arcimboldo. Mouseover to see it upside-down!
In one of his classes, Amalfitano said: the birth of modern Latin American poetry is marked by two poems. The first is "The Soliloquy of the Individual," by Nicanor Parra, published in Poemas y antipoemas, Editorial Nascimento, Chile, 1954. The second is "Trip to New York," by Ernesto Cardenal, published in a Mexico City magazine in the mid-'70s (1974, I think, but don't quote me on that), which I have in Ernesto Cardenal's Antología, Editorial Laia, Barcelona, 1978. Of course, Cardenal had already written "Zero Hour," "Psalms," "Homage to the American Indians," and "Coplas on the Death of Merton," but it's "Trip to New York" that to me marks the turning point, the definitive fork in the road. "Trip" and "Soliloquy" are the two faces of modern poetry, the devil and the angel, respectively (and let us not forget the curious fact -- though it may be much more than that -- that in "Trip" Ernesto Cardenal mentions Nicanor Parra). This is perhaps the most lucid and terrible moment, after which the sky grows dark and the storm is unleashed.
Those who disagree can sit here and wait for Don Horacio Tregua, those who agree can follow me.
--Roberto Bolaño, Woes of the True Policeman
So then, here they are:
- Parra, Soliloquio del individuo, translated by Ferlinghetti as "Soliloquy of the Individual" -- here is a recording of Ginsberg reading the translation, though annoyingly cut off before the end. Here is a recording of Parra reading.
- Cardenal, Trip to New York. (Annoying -- this is a Google Books preview and only the first page is available; I haven't been able to find a link to the original text.) (Or possibly there are more than one poem of that title by Cardenal -- I just found a link to the first page of a poem called Viaje a Nueva York which begins differently than that one.) (Update -- we'll know soon enough, I just bought the 78 Laia Antología via AbeBooks...)
Thursday, October 16th, 2014
Marta Aponte Alsina's recent novellette Mr. Green is available on Kindle in Spanish; and now you can read the first few pages in my translation, at Tupelo Quarterly.
Friday, October third, 2014
Ok, here is my own version.
I've been really looking forward for a while to the release of the new Gary Davis documentary, Harlem Street Singer. Saw it last night with old Xyris friend Ed and was not in the least disappointed -- indeed quite the contrary. I am here to tell you about a movie that should not be missed -- if you either (a) dig folk music or (b) think you would like to dig folk music, you ought to see this movie.
Gary Davis might be my very favorite guitar player -- and nicely, Harlem Street Singer provides plenty of commentary from guitarists that bears out this favoriting :) -- perhaps the nicest thing about this movie is the footage -- of Davis playing and singing and preaching and teaching, and also some great concert footage of bands he influenced, including Hot Tuna and the Dead. There are also interviews with guitarists he taught and influenced, including with Bob Weir and Jorma, and a monologue by Woody Mann. Mann is also the producer.
Let me leave you with "12 Gates to the City." This is that miraculous beast, the song that every version of it, is fantastic. In the movie Mann and singer Bob Sims performed a version of it that opened my eyes all over again -- check out this couple of different performances of Davis' tune (or Davis' arrangement of a trad. tune? Not entirely sure)(Hmm, and this seems like it would be a good tune for learning) -- and then watch this movie!
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