No Background Music 2012

            No Background Music

 

There’ll be no background music then;

Valleys that refuse to sing,

Glens that ring out nothing –

Dales too. 

Only

Quiet.

How to get used to the mute

Unqualified;

No angel choir,

No Gabriel to tootie toot.

There being so much music

In the background –

Does that frighten you?

 

No Background Music 2.11.2012

Vaguely About Music II; Birth Death & In Between II; Our Times, Our Culture II;

Arlene Corwin

Showing And Sharing 2009 revised from 1992

 

          Showing And Sharing

Why do I perform, I ask you?

Kent and I, we talked it through.

“Why do we do what we do?”

Musicians both, asking about both sloth and troth.

“Why not stay at home, just play at home?”

The need to play for them, where does it come from?

Why not warble in a corner,

Trade Jack Warner for Jack Horner?

The path, pith, analysis, seed of non-paralysis

Lies in the need to share each bar,

Ensnare them in the repertoire:

Acquired, inspired and fired solo.

To play for those who know is where share becomes the show.To share the stuff you’re made of,

One likes to give and get the love.

The gig may be just one night long,

Player’s voice imbibing song.

That’s why birds have beaks,

Actors paint their cheeks,

Nuns not called freaks,

Why climbers climb outrageous peaks:

To show and share’s their form of care, of who they are,

A wearing off of vanity and learning of humility:

The real way to get somewhere.

Why seek the gigs, and time on time risk disapproval?

Bumpy lyrics, chords that stump,

Mental blocks to shock a heart that gasps to pump;

Sometimes on your frumpy rump

When you’re a grumpy, dumpy lump;

Handling cash, the boss

Without the foolishness of loss;

And gathering the strength

To stand with dignity against the length

Of lustful arms and eyes,

Seductive men and women: lies.

In some mysterious mirror way

You need to hear the stuff you play

Through other’s ears and other’s eyes.

It’s the response that makes you wise,

The music genie rise.

I’m giving up the claim to fame,

(Which only means you know my name)

The thing I can’t give up’s the call,

Which means, of course, the playing hall.

Knowing, daring, going, baring,

Learning, doing, wooing, paring:

That’s the showing and the sharing:

©Showing & Sharing #1 11.4.1992 rev2009

Vaguely About Music; Circling Round Reality; Circling Round Vanities;

Arlene Corwin

To The Soul Not Yet Whole 1962

       To The Soul Not Yet Whole

If swingin’s

All you’re bringin’

To music,

That’s not art,

But only part.

Or change your bit:

That isn’t it,

That’s only sham.

That is, if swingin’s

All you bring

To music.

Refrain:

Soul music may have heart,

Soul music may be smart;

Soul music may be art –

But not necessarily so.

Disdain:

Swing, man, hard and loud,

But man, you’re clinging to a cloud.

Call horn x,

Call music y,

Call yourself small letter i.

Remember son,

You modern soul,

The abstraction,

Means, the goal –

The three in one

Is solely you.

Practice one or all of these,

For art is born of one-in-threes.

Love will do,

And horn will do,

And absoluting you will do

Too.

©To The Soul Not Yet Whole (on hearing a record by Charlie Mingus) 1962

Vaguely About Music;

Arlene Corwin

 

The Trick Is To Stay Fresh 1994

           The Trick Is To Stay Fresh

I heard a band four decades old.

“Good God, I thought, what a good band!”

How do they do it? Forty years?

What do they think night after night

When each man steps up to the stand –

Night after night his horn in hand,

Old licks, clichés

Takes his solos even on the days

His wife is sick?

And still they’re slick and stick it out

Night after night, year after year,

Internal tensions always there.

It must be like a factory job,

To entertain the drinking mob.

Or maybe not.

Maybe jobs have been a ball,

A chance to leave four walls,

Create, maintain a freshness,

Make some music on the spot,

Feelings tapped, without pretence;

Spontaneous, and proud of what

The dents he’s chalked up on his horn

All signify.

Perhaps, instead of blasé scorn

He manages to like the crowd –

The drunks, the dancers raw and loud.

Maybe the leader has charisma –

Makes each guy feel that he’s good;

Shows respect for solos

Drummer, sax or trumpet blows;

Drumming, blasting, bellowing.

By hook or crook, the trick’s eternal:

Keep the kernel of renewal growing,

Tapped and showing;

Ever crowing.

The trick is to stay fresh.

©The Trick Is To Stay Fresh 94.11.30

Vaguely About Music;

Arlene Corwin

 

 

The Songbird 1997

 

       The Songbird

I heard a singer and was moved,

Which proves not much.

We’re touched by mediocrity,

The second-rate,

The bait of glamour.

Hers was honesty,

Simplicity dug deep in skill.

Talent and ability.

Oh, so good, voice many-hued.

Interpretation, even the

Pronunciation, woven in

The loveliness.

A jazz parfait: a marmalade,

Jade luminesence

Honesty, simplicity,

Substance in each nicety;

Who wouldn’t want to sing so well,

That those who heard would feel compelled

To tell the world what you exude

Though under-known and undervalued?

(such a gift might give me hubris where, too satisfied,

I’d have to watch for sins of pride.)

For now, there’s happiness-near-bliss,

Aesthetic saturation

Having heard this songbird sing.*

©

The Songbird 97.10.4Special People, Special Occasions; Vaguely About Music;

Arlene Corwin

* Sue Raney

 

 

The Sadly Futile Pretence 1993

                 The Sadly Futile Pretence

“This is the last song that you’ll ever hear me play,” he roared.

He sat down at his organ, striking one great chord.

“…the last song that I’ll ever play in this damned pub!”

And he walked up to the organ while the boss looked bored.

He played a song he’d often played, but with a great emotion.

He played his heart out, as they say. He played with great devotion

To the theme, and as he finished with a grand dramatic pause,

He took his beer, he wiped a tear and looked for some applause.

But folk continued talking; clinking glass was all you heard.

For the saddest cut of all was that, in fact, nobody cared.

“They’ll see they cannot do without me. They’ll be sorry yet…!”

He was thinking this with every pounded note he played that set.

Just a drunken little fellow who showed up each night at six,

And who stayed till two each morning showing off his tattered tricks.

Who’d begun to think he owned the club – played host and bossed around

Other players who showed up to play. He had to share the stand.

And if someone had a birthday or a graduation day,

Or if someone wanted Strauss, or asked to sing, then he would play.

Good old Charlie-at-the-ready, with unsteady hand could

Play light opera or a folk song. In his genre good.

Not professional, but in his amateurish way he played quite well,

Playing harmonies – not incorrect – just, what shall we say, – stale.

Dearest Charlie, dear loud Charlie, he could turn a tune.

And he sometimes changed the light-bulbs in his home in the saloon.

I’d have sworn he’d gone forever, if you’d asked me on that night.

But on showing up myself next week, he’d far from taken flight.

Walking round the club as always, telling all who gave an ear,

How he’d fixed the mike, had cleaned the keys, wouldn’t say no to beer:

“A strong one, please!”

©The Sadly Futile Pretence 93.7.5

Vaguely About Music; Special People Special Occasions; Small Stories Book;

Arlene Corwin

.

 

 

 

The Performer 1992

                   The PerformerShe makes her face up, picks her frock,

Goes to the club and hopes she doesn’t play a crock

Of shitty, shoddy work that night.

Gets there on time; the sound is set.

She starts to play; she’s planned her set.

The baby pink is not quite right –

You know, the baby pink spotlight.

Her phrasing’s delicate but bright.

Though she’s a pro, raring to go

There’s always just a bit of nerves:

The need to please. She feels she serves.

That’s good. The voice is good, quite good.

That song came out as best it could.

The people clap. Some even shout

And whistle. “How about

Another tune?’ She sings another.

Finally the evening’s over.

Just like that: a moment’s bubble.

Was it really worth the trouble?

People who’ve just seen the act,

The ones who sat, admired, practically

Dying for a skill they lack,

Who long for what seem so attractive,

Think that after she’s performed

She goes to any place but home,

But that’s exactly where she’s headed:

Home, a bite to eat and bed.

No frilly glamour in this art,

Just daily practicing and heart,

Mind, soul, evolving luck;

A mucking in, not mucking up.

The underlying need to grow

Sleeps underneath the this-night’s show.

A groping upward, outward and

A digging inward guides her hands

And every member of the band’s.

©The Performer 92.12.6

Vaguely About Music;

Arlene Corwin

 

 

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