What did I say about your mother?
What did I forget now?
Giant hands, they can’t kill you without a body
Give me time, and I’ll leave you with nothing, too
Hold real still cause I wanna kiss you
What did I forget now?
Praise the man standing quiet in his fire
Give me time, and I’ll put out my fire for you
I’ve been awake for a long, long time – 3 am. Maybe you’ve heard of Second Sleep – maybe I’m willing it back into style?
This began early in the evening with a cacophony of loop improvisation, intricate pizzicato and bow. After it all shut off, and I slumped into my chair, I absentmindedly plucked single notes which got me here. The contrast between a cacophony and silence was nice. Here, the under 2 min, short practice was to pack multiple stories in every line. In each line, there are about 2-5 stories; mine, his, hers, yours. Which, it could be argued, is the case for anything. So, I’ll leave it at that. And, awe man, those fine morning birds chirping away.
I have known friend and filmmaker/cinematographer Emily Allen for years, and I’m always honored when she asks me to work on her projects. Her work is interesting, thought-provoking, and intelligent. This is her stunning documentary reel which includes a piece I composed for her recently.
Find her on Instagram @emilykayeallen or her website at: emilykayeallen.com
This is the Nigerian poet Gbenga Adesina.
He is visiting New York for a few weeks and stayed with us for a few days. (When people stay with you, it is a window into something else.) He and I caught each other in passing and sat at our dining room table a few times and ended up talking about many things. He practiced for a reading of his work while in New York by reading a few of them to me: Me. An audience of one. I said, “So slow! Like you are singing the words!” And it does! It sounds like he is singing. And then, being moved, I impulsively said, “Will you read while I play?” So, before he left our house, he read this poem while I improvised. It took probably 2 minutes (because we did it twice).
I want you to know about this poem and this writer because I am finding that being in a space in which room has been made to reflect and create is healing: for everyone.
This is his poem How to Paint A Girl which was published in the New York Times Magazine on July 8, 2016.
How to Paint a Girl
With him you come to learn
that when a man is called to paint a girl
he paints all of himself.
His tiny songs are the floss in her hair,
the tulips on her blouse are the stories
his sisters told him under half-nights long ago
in the lost country of music. With their half-furls and
follicles and buds and brown twigs that speak more
of withering things. The tiny sigh, the one you almost
didn’t see, the silence in her eyes, is the night his mother
died while he fought rebels in the Nigerian army.
Here is a cover. If I was to be frank, it’s to prove something to myself after a very long and taxing day – for mind and body. Even if I didn’t actually prove anything, it is good to do. And I love this song.
I have two versions of this: a live version and a ‘tracked’ version with arco cello arrangements. There’s something nice about a simple, raw live version of something new and unplanned.
It is now 4:12 am. Why are you awake? Why am I still awake?
I’m On Fire – live – Bruce Springsteen cover
Hey little girl is your daddy home
Did he go and leave you all alone
I got a bad desire
I’m on fire
Tell me now baby is he good to you
Can he do to you the things that I do
I can take you higher
I’m on fire
Sometimes it’s like someone took a knife baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six-inch valley
Through the middle of my soul
At night I wake up with the sheets soaking wet
And a freight train running through the
Middle of my head
Only you can cool my desire
I’m on fire
SONG TWO-HUNDRED AND TWENTY-SEVEN
Tiny - Emily Hope Price, image - Harvey Robinson
Technology. Technology is allowing me to type this on my stupid cell phone in the middle of a show! AMAZING!
Today’s song is so special, it’s crazy. Tonight, we are in Asheville, NC. We drove here after a two-day stint in Greensboro helping out our friend Harvey Robinson. I mentioned him and his production company, Monkeywhale, in an earlier post. Well, last night during our Greensboro show, I busted my C string, the cello’s thickest string, right in the middle if the set. Today, as I was putting on a new string, Harvey came up and said, “Have you done your song of the day yet?” “No”, I said. “I want to film the song today!” “I haven’t started it yet,” I replied. “Just improvise it…”
Well, I did. And he filmed me doing it. Harvey has been awake for nearly 3 days now with only a few naps because of the 48 Hour Film Project – and he is still in a great mood! Thank you, Harvey for capturing a 365 song in such a beautiful way.
You’re the best, Harvey and Carolyn!