so what


Miles Davis – So What? (2012, CD) - Discogs

When in 1944 Miles Davis told his brother-in-law he was going to New York, his brother-in-law apparently replied, “So what?” I wonder if Davis thought of this when he entitled the composition of that name.

When I was 17 years old, I distinctly remember thinking I could become a musician or a writer. At the time, I was co-editor of my school newspaper and also very involved in the school music program. I was listening to Octavia Butler biographer, Lynell George, talk on a YouTube video this morning. She said that began as a reader who was a writer, but not as a writer. I still feel like that.

Excerpt: New book explores Octavia E. Butler's Pasadena - Los Angeles Times

Here’s a link to the video of George discussing Butler with reporter Julia Wick. Also, George’s description of Butler’s papers made me think of my life as a reader/writer. At this  point in my life I have vivid “conversations” with what I am reading and listening to. I find it a rewarding way to live. Apparently, Butler lived in a similar manner, writing extensive marginalia in response to her reading.

I keep thinking about my personal musical language and preferences. I am thinking of improvising the prelude and postlude for next Sunday. This time, it’s not only to give my self some needed breathing space while burned out, but because I am looking forward to improvising. Last Sunday, as I usually do when we do Eucharist, I improvised after the offertory hymn to give Jen time to get completely moved from the chapel and set to go on with the Eucharist at the altar in the church. Matt the tech guy remarked on this improvisation after church.

Also, I received a nice email from a parishioner who “shared” our Easter Sunday service with someone she was visiting. They remarked on the organ music (which was all improvised that day).  I emailed her back and told her she made my day. I did  not tell her that I remember being slightly puzzled when I ended the postlude on Easter Sunday. I was proud of the improv, but no one seemed to notice it. However, everyone did look like “Thank God, Holy Week is over.”

What I’m thinking about is my own style of improvisation. It seems to appeal much more to regular listeners (and myself) than it ever did to people I knew when going to school. In fact, the only reason I did not receive the AGO Associate certification was one little four measure interlude that was required. All judges gave me low grades and one gave me a zero. I had passing scores to this extensive examination. But one of the rules was that you could not flunk any one of the many sections. They have since made this certification process a bit more realistic and even sent me a letter years ago suggesting I retake it.

Maybe it’s better that I didn’t get that particular certificate. I like being a renegade.

My Subaru is in the shop so we are not doing our usual Tuesday date day today. But we are having a pleasant day together.

With all my other reading, I have also been reading a ton of poetry lately. I finished Tropic of Squalor by Mary Karr and liked it enough to interlibrary loan another of her books.

Tropic of Squalor: New Book by Peck Professor Mary Karr Highlights  Irreverent Brand of Poetic Faith | Syracuse University News

Ditto for They Lift Their Wings to Cry by Brooks Haxton.

They Lift Their Wings to Cry: Haxton, Brooks: 9780307268457:  Books

I’m about half way through Hayden Carruth’s Scrambled Eggs and Whisky. 

Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey: Poems, 1991-1995: Carruth, Hayden: 9781556591105: Books

These three were recommended by George Saunders in an interview with Ezra Klein. 

I think of all of them teach at Syracuse University.

Finally, I was surprised that I liked Garrison Keillor’s poem for today’s Writers Almanac, I CAN’T STOP LOVING YOU JOHN KEATS by Kim Addonizio

I especially liked the ending:

Please take me away in my tight corset & wedding dress of sand
I don’t want to stay in this world watching Truth bound & gagged on the
railroad tracks

feeling like a fish trapped in a European pedicure spa while the tiny,
whining violins of privilege play
& Beauty slowly backs away

from I Can’t Stop Loving You John Keats by Kim Addonizio

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