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exhausted on a beautiful day in michigan

This was made by my granddaughter Lucy. I talked to her today as well as Sarah and Alice. We did an unscheduled video chat.


Yesterday Eileen and i had a lovely day at the beach. People were not socially distancing or wearing masks but we managed to find an isolated place next to the channel to picnic, play boggle, and do some reading. It got chilly so we went back to the car just in time for it rain. These date days are a a god send. They leave both of us more relaxed.

Today I seem to be in some sort of reactive exhaustion. I am more tired today than I have been since Sunday.

Kill 'em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul (Hardcover) | Politics and Prose Bookstore

I finished James McBride’s Kill ‘Em and Leave ‘Em: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul. I thought it was excellent. McBride is both a musician and a journalist as well as a good writer. Combining these skills and points of view makes this an invaluable book for understanding many things about music in America today.

This morning when Elizabeth asked Alex what she wanbted for breakfast, she said, “Popcorn!” I thought of the above tune.

Here are some very fine passages of McBride that I made a note of.

“The legacy of caring, insight, trust, and sophistication that makes up black American Christian life and culture is fragile compost for the American storytelling machine, which grinds ol stereotypes and beliefs into a kind of mush porridge best served cold, if at all.”

“Here’s how music history in America works: a trumpet player blows a solo in a Philly nightclub in 1945. Somebody slaps it on a record, and fifty years later that same solo is a final in a college jazz department, and your kid pays $60,000 a year to take the final, while the guy who blew the solo out of his guts in the first place is deader than yesterday’s rice and beans., his family is suffering from the same social illness that created his great solo, and nobody gave two hoots about the guy when he died and nobody gives two hoots about his family ow. They call that capitalism, the Way of the World, Showbiz, You Gotta Suck It Up, an upcoming Movie About Diversity, and my favorite, Cultural History. I call it fear, and it has lived in the heart of every black American musician for the last hundred years.”

“Talent is just dessert in the ear-candy business anyway. It’s about who can stand the ride, the merry-go-round that forces you to toss off self-esteem, decency, and morality and pull out your gun on the competition—beat ’em down with the barrel instead of killing ’em outright, then pick them up afterward and say, ‘Get up, let’s do it again.’ A life of making ear candy can kill off every dream you ever had.”

“…[T]he information machine turns a truth into a lie and a lie into the truth, transforms superstitions and stereotypes into fact with such ease and fluidity that after a while, you get to believing, as I do, that the media is not a reflection of the American culture but rather is teaching it.”

“…{A] lot of American church music has become like Broadway shows, all cowboy hat and no cowboy, lots of lights and sound, the drummers basically conducting the thing from beginning to end, with massive choirs hollering lyrics you can’t understand. It’s a lot of puff and smoke.”

Like I said, I like the way he writes. i have a couple more novels by him on my to-read stack.

Well, I’m exhausted so I think I’m going to leave it at that today. See you on the screen of life.

resting on Monday after Easter and a poem


By my count, I improvised five organ pieces last week. I was most satisfied with the prelude for Maundy Thursday and the postlude for the second service on Easter Sunday. Improvising was a good idea. I have been thinking about Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis and their understanding of improvisation. Hancock quoted Wayne Shorter: “How can you rehearse the unknown?” The sentiment is one that reflects my own interest in being spontaneous when I improvise. On Maundy Thursday, I began thinking about what the improvisation would entail as I sat on the organ bench waiting for time to play. But just before performing, I changed my mind and did something entirely different and it turned out very well.

I have chosen organ music for this upcoming Sunday. I will be using selections from Dandrieu’s Noel on O filii et filiae. I have been sneaking in rehearsal of these when I was at church this past week. They are lovely and fit nicely on the Pasi.

I am tired today but that makes sense after doing the usual services for Holy Week. I continue to be drawn to the music of Bach and Bartok. I have added some Ravel to that as well. Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis seem to like Ravel. I have several piano pieces by Ravel and spent time with the first movement of his Sonatine yesterday afternoon.

I also pulled out Walcha’s version of Bach’s Art of Fugue for organ. In the past I haven’t used it much. But, for some reason I have been enamored of the Art of Fugue lately, playing movements on the piano. I only own the Czerny Dover performance version which is crappy as far as editing but sits nicely on the piano. I have a study score but it’s not practical for playing.  Walcha solves the difficulty of Counterpoint IX on the organ by  making it manuals only. This ends up being a nice, clear version to play through.

I’m considering scheduling some Art of Fugue for preludes and/or postludes in Easter, but we’ll see.

So  Holy Week is over. Here’s a poem I think about sometimes this time of year by James Dickey.


All dark is now no more.
The forest is drawing a light.
All Presences change into trees.
One eye opens slowly without me.
My sight is the same as the sun’s,
For this is the grave of the king,
When the earth turns, waking a choir.
All dark is now no more.

Birds speak, their voices beyond them.
A light has told them their song.
My animal eyes become human
As the Word rises out of the darkness
Where my right hand, buried beneath me,
Hoveringly tingles, with grasping
The source of all song at the root.
Birds speak, their voices beyond them.

Put down those seeds in your hand.
These trees have not yet been planted.
A light should come round the world,
Yet my army blanket is dark,
That shall sparkle with dew in the sun.
My magical sheperd’s cloak
Is not yet alive on my flesh.
Put down those seeds in your hand.

In your palm is the secret of waking.
Unclasp your purple-nailed fingers
And the woods and the sunlight together
Shall spring, and make good the world.
The sounds in the air shall find bodies,
And a feather shall drift from the pine-top
You shall feel, with your long-buried hand.
In your palm is the secret of waking,

For the king’s grave turns him to light.
A woman shall look through the window
And see me here, huddled and blazing.
My child, mouth open, still sleeping,
Hears the song in the egg of a bird.
The sun shall have told him that song
Of a father returning from darkness,
For the king’s grave turns you to light.

All dark is now no more.
In your palm is the secret of waking.
Put down those seeds in your hand;
All Presences change into trees.
A feather shall drift from the pine-top.
The sun shall have told you this song,
For this is the grave of the king;
For the king’s grave turns you to light.

—James Dickey

Back by Easter | The Point Magazine

Another online article by  my brother.