Archive for January 6th, 2023

Go Your Way

scan0049 It Was the Oddest Sky 1994

It Was the Oddest Sky, 1994

Tell him to be alone often and get at himself
and above all tell himself no lies about himself
whatever the white lies and protective fronts
he may use amongst other people.
Tell him solitude is creative if he is strong
and the final decisions are made in silent rooms.
Tell him to be different from other people
if it comes natural and easy being different.
Let him have lazy days seeking his deeper motives.
Let him seek deep for where he is a born natural.
      Then he may understand Shakespeare
      and the Wright brothers, Pasteur, Pavlov,
      Michael Faraday and free imaginations
bringing changes into a world resenting change.
      He will be lonely enough
      to have time for the work
      he knows as his own.

–Carl Sandburg, The People, Yes

I wasn’t sure how this was all going to tie together today. Didn’t seem to have a common chord at first and thought it might be a stretch trying to stand my stuff up alongside Amercian icons like Carl Sandburg and Woody Guthrie. But then I thought that it was their idea of individuality, of going your own way, that drove my work. Especially the early work when I was trying to differentiate myself from the art that I knew.

Much like Sandburg’s verse, I seemed to heed the advice given by a father in it. I knew I wanted to be somehow different, to not be constantly compared to the work and words of others. I didn’t want to compete with anyone, just wanted to be left alone with the time to do what I felt I needed to do.

The piece at the top, It Was the Oddest Sky from 1994, represents one of the first efforts where I felt that I could find something in the work that I could call my own. Even as the work has changed, grown, and evolved, the idea of it standing alone as my own has always been the driving force behind it.

Whether it is good or not, I cannot say. It’s just what I do now and when I am gone, what I did in my own way and with my own voice. It might not be the best voice or the sweetest. But like Woody wrote: There ain’t nobody that can sing like me

Here’s the song that that line is from, Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key. It was from a group of unrecorded lyrics that Billy Bragg and Wilco set to music at the behest of the Guthrie family. The result were the Mermaid Avenue albums. I think they’re great works and this song is among my favorites from them.

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