It’s been quite the job of work to do daily posts with new lyric videos here this April in celebration of National Poetry Month, and I haven’t taken the time yet to see what impact those extra efforts have had. Though I was re-releasing already recorded audio pieces from the earliest years of this six-year Project this month, even the fairly simple lyric videos took more time than you might think — and then there was the selection of which pieces to present, as well as writing a few hundred words on what I currently thought of each of them.
Well, not only is today the last day of National Poetry Month, it’s International Jazz Day, and I felt I needed to make a nod to that today. So, let’s play two!
The first piece is, I think, one of the prettiest of the more than 600 performances we’ve presented: Carl Sandburg’s “Autumn Movement.” Sandburg gets tagged as an urban poet, and of course he broke into the scene with Chicago Poems in 1914. But he grew up in a more downstate Illinois town, and traveled around the less urban areas of the country before spending the majority of his “now you’re famous” years on a small goat farm. “Autumn Movement” is from his 1918 Cornhuskers collection, which as you might expect from its title is not all city living.*
Here’s Sandburg with farmland not skyscrapers
While “Autumn Movement” is short in word-count, I did get to playing a bit as I tried my best to approximate in this piece the stylings of Bill Frisell with my Telecaster and fretless bass. Frisell, who can play more contexts more better than I can properly imagine, is usually labeled a Jazz guitarist. I’m not, labels or otherwise. I just have a lot of guts — but the result is pretty.
As per our April thing, you have three ways to hear “Autumn Movement.” You can use the player gadget just below. No gadget? This highlighted hyperlink will do it too. And the lyric video is above.
And the bonus second piece? “Sonny Rollins, The Bridge, 1959” is not an early performance (I performed and presented it earlier this year) but for International Jazz Day I thought it’d be good to have another piece that not only uses Jazz musical flavorings but actually deals with being a Jazz artist — or by easy extension, an American artist in any medium. If I’m not a proper Jazz composer or musician, I take great strength just from considering their achievements, their dedication, their originality. Given that most of the giants are Afro-Americans who’ve had a whole ‘nother level of obstacles and expectations to get over as serious artists — well, the mind boggles and the heart swells considering them.
And one more chorus: three ways to hear it: the graphical player just below this, the backup highlighted hyperlink, and the lyric video just a bit lower down on the page.
I hope this experiment has been enjoyable for the regulars here who may have joined the Parlando Project already in progress and who perhaps haven’t heard the earlier pieces — and it was my hope that it would also bring some new readers and listeners into the fold. If you’re one of those: welcome! I’m not predictable in what kind of poetry or music I’ll use, but I do consistently try to keep it interesting and varied, and I’d sure like to have you come along with me as I do that.
And here’s my ode to the inspiring Sonny Rollins in lyric video form
*I’ve always enjoyed the story of Bob Dylan seeking out Sandburg as the younger singer was just starting to reach a level of national fame in 1964. While trying to locate Sandburg, Dylan was unable to get the locals to recognize a “Sandburg the poet” he was seeking, but then they asked back if he was looking instead for “Sandburg the goat farmer.”
Robert Frost wrote a lot of poems about rural life, including many of his best and best remembered, but his contemporary Sandburg, Mr. City of the Big Shoulders, probably spent more time around actual farms and farming.