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Long Way

GC Myers-  Symphony of Silence  2021

Symphony of Silence“- Available at the Principle Gallery, Alexandria VA



A people that has remained convinced of its greatness and invulnerability, that has chosen to believe such a myth in the face of all the evidence, is a people in the grip of a kind of sleep, or madness.

–Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses



I was going to write about hubris and schadenfreude this morning. Together they sound like an ill-fated couple from some obscure story in classical literature. And maybe they should be.

Like I said, I was going to write about them and how much on display the two are lately.  The hubris of people who foolhardily believe in their own invulnerability then suddenly discover that there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary. And the schadenfreude of those others who understood that no one is truly bulletproof, perhaps from having their own hubris bite them in the butt at an earlier time, take great pleasure in seeing the absolute certainty of these folks crumble into nothingness.

But to be honest, I am fatigued by the mere though of writing about it. I am bone tired of the hubris I see from those who deny anything that doesn’t fall into what they desire to believe. And I am tired of the schadenfreude, the delight taken in the misery of others, that I see in those who watch these fools stumble and fall, one after the other.

I am definitely tired of my own schadenfreude. Exhausted from it. It’s like watching an endless loop of a guy stepping on a rake that comes up and bangs him in the face. You chuckle at first then, after a few minutes, it becomes sad and pathetic, both for the victim and the observer.

Maybe that’s the lesson of hubris and schadenfreude in their roles as classical characters, that their story always ends up sad and pathetic. Who knows? I am too tired of then already to think any more on the subject.

I’ve already written way more than I originally intended. I was just going to say that I wanted to shut it all out for awhile, maybe take a long ride in the car. Look at things– the landscape, the sky and trees, lakes and rivers– without thinking too much.

Take the long way home.

I was going to use this as an intro to a new Eddie Vedder song, Long Way, that is definitely derived from the spirit and tone of a fine Tom Petty song. Nothing wrong with that. Let’s go with that plan and play the song now.

Give a listen if you are so inclined and maybe take the long way home one of these days. Might help you forget about hubris and schadenfreude.



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Wyeth Obsession

Andrew Wyeth Spring Fed 1967

Andrew Wyeth– Spring Fed,1967



I’m not at all interested in painting the object just as it is in nature. Certainly I’m much more interested in the mood of a thing than the truth of a thing.

–Andrew Wyeth



 

Earlier this morning, I was looking for an image from Andrew Wyeth to accompany the words above. Wyeth is one of those artists for me whose words and works seem to speak directly to me.

I love the work of many artists but their words on their work or anything sometimes lack the perspective and feel that I see in their work. They most likely work from a different place in themselves or are looking for other things in their work than I do in my own work. Or they simply have a different way of seeing their work and process and expressing it in words.

But Wyeth’s words, like his images, hit me directly. I don’t need to figure out what he is saying and can immediately see the application of his words in his work. I can also see what I would like to believe are parallels in my own motivations and work.

But while looking up a painting to match this particular passage, I came across a bit of important trivia about Wyeth that I hadn’t known before. I found it very interesting. It seems that Wyeth had an absolute obsession with a 1925 silent film, the anti-war classic from director King Vidor, The Big Parade.  Wyeth saw it first as an 8 year old and watched it around 200 times over the course of his life. One Wyeth scholar puts the figure at possibly 500 times.

That is an obsession.

He even wrote to Vidor in the 1940’s to describe his love for the film ( he called it the greatest film ever made) to the director and outline how it had influenced many of his paintings over the course of the decades since first seeing the film. They met in later years, in the 1970’s, where Wyeth again told how many of the scenes from the film showed up in different ways in many of his paintings.

Like many things from Wyeth, this particular bit of information echoed my own obsessions in film, the films I watch over and over again in the studio. Films with strong imagery and meanings in their dialogue make up most of these studio companions. Films like The Grapes of Wrath and Watch on the Rhine and so many more have elements that trigger emotional reactions with each viewing, even after that number has reached into the many dozens. 

I understand that kind of obsession. Each viewing reveals more and more details that add even more depth to my perception of the film. I know that  emotional tone and other elements of these films influence my work. I also think that it ties into my own willingness to constantly revisit certain elements and imagery within my work, something that is echoed in another passage from Wyeth:

Most artists look for something fresh to paint; frankly I find that quite boring. For me it is much more exciting to find fresh meaning in something familiar.

Don’t know what to make of this. I guess I just find it interesting.

There’s a short article along with a audio recording of lecture on Wyeth’s obsession with The Big Parade at the site for the National Gallery. You can see it by clicking here.

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I recall Gandhi said ultimately all things devolve into the political, but I’d argue that all things devolve into pro-people and anti-people. And I can pose the question: which side are you on?

― Stetson Kennedy



I used the above quote from the late author/activist/folklorist Stetson Kennedy (1916-2011) a couple of years ago. Felt that a partial replay of that post was in order since it felt relative to today’s political climate. It seems to me that there is a sizable portion of our population, maybe 30% or so, that falls into that anti-people category. Enough to make trouble for those who identify as pro-people.

This is fairly evident especially if you are a person of color, a woman, a gay or transgender person, a non-christian, an immigrant, a poor person, a sick person, a person who likes clean water and air, a person who prefers fair and honest elections, a person who doesn’t want to have to pack a sidearm to go to the market, a person who values education and the sciences, a person who sees the value of collective bargaining and the pure falsity of trickle down economics or someone who prefers simple truth– even when it is not what we want to hear– to absolute deception.

In these times, his question is a valid one: Which side are you on? If you can’t answer this simple question or try to rationalize your answer with a dizzying pretzel logic, we’re all in world of trouble.

That said, I thought I would share a little more info on Stetson Kennedy because I am pretty sure he’s well off most of our radars. Part of the family of Stetson Hat fame, he was a folklorist, having written a well regarded book on the folklore of his native Florida, as well as a civil rights and union activist through the early part of his adult life.

Stetson Kennedy I Rode with the KKKUnable to serve in WW II because of a back injury, Kennedy turned his efforts to righting some of the injustices and dangers he saw in his own part of the world, primarily racial hatred and inequality. He infiltrated the KKK and wrote a book, I Rode With the Ku Klux Klan, which exposed the rituals and actions of the group and that ultimately led to a governmental crackdown on it, crippling the hate group for decades to come.

An interesting part of this story is that while he was infiltrating the KKK, he was feeding codewords and details of secret rituals from the group to the writers of the Superman radio show who used them in a 16 part segment on the show called Clan of the Fiery Cross. It had a huge impact in the public perception of the group and reportedly set back its recruitment and growth for decades.

No one wanted to be in a group that the Man of Steel was against. If only it were still that way.

Another interesting factoid was that this book was written in France during Kennedy’s self-imposed exile there and  first published by existentialist author Jean-Paul Sartre.

Here are a few more words from Kennedy:

“There is more than one way to be Kluxed, and we need to think about ourselves and the kind of people we elect into public office.”

———

“The bed sheet brigade is bad enough, but the real threat to Americans and human rights today is the plain clothes Klux in the halls of government and certain black-robed Klux on court benches.”

———

“If the Bush brothers really think that women and minorities are getting preferential treatment, they should get themselves a sex change, paint themselves black and check it out.”

–Stetson Kennedy, 2004




That brings us to a song called Stetson Kennedy from one of my favorite albums, Mermaid Avenue, from the collaboration of Billy Bragg and Wilco in creating songs from a group of previously unrecorded Woody Guthrie lyrics. Guthrie was friend of Kennedy and when Kennedy ran for the governorship of Florida in 1952 — which he lost and for which he was vilified and basically ran out of the state by right-wingers who firebombed and destroyed his home –- Guthrie wrote the lyrics for a campaign song that never came about. Bragg and Wilco did it many years later, in 1997. I liked this song before I knew who in the world Stetson Kennedy was, particularly the line:

I ain’t the world’s best writer nor the world’s best speller
But when I believe in something I’m the loudest yeller



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Georgia O'Keeffe-Cows Skull  Red  White and  Blue 1931

Georgia O’Keeffe-Cow’s Skull Red, White and Blue -1931



I have done nothing all summer but wait for myself to be myself again —

–Georgia O’Keeffe



I came across this line above from Georgia O’Keeffe that she wrote in a letter to fellow painter Russell Vernon Hunter. Her words certainly resonated with me as I seem to find myself in that same peculiar position every summer, waiting for summer to pass and the ease that accompanies autumn (at least for me) to arrive. It also reminded me of some of the reasons that I was so attracted to O’Keeffe and her work, especially in my earlier years.

Her work always struck me in both the gut and the head. It was easily taken in but was not easily dismissed. It left you with lingering thoughts and images in your mind. It was like seeing a simple object that for some reason sparks a whole series of thoughts, often unrelated tor far from the object itself. Like seeing a simple flower and suddenly imagining the whole cycle of life.

From birth to death and back to life again, all in the petals of a flower.

I thought I’d replay a post from several years back that shows a clip from a 1977 film about O”Keeffe that I very much like. The award winning film became part of the American Masters series on PBS but is no longer in circulation, according to some sites. But the clip speaks volumes itself and I have added a video with the filmmaker, the late Perry Miller Adato, who speaks about the film and her interactions with O’Keeffe during its making.



Georgia O'KeeffeI don’t know if I have talked much about Georgia ‘OKeeffe (1887-1985) here on the blog. Her work was a big influence on me when I was starting, especially with her use of  bold, clear color and in the way she pared away detail in her compositions, leaving only the essential. Her lines and forms were always organic and natural, something in them almost creating a harmony or vibration that easily meshed with the viewer on a gut level.

I was looking at films of artists at work earlier and came across a short segment from a 1977 documentary by filmmaker Perry Miller Adato that was aired on PBS at the time to mark O’Keeffe 90th birthday. I was immediately captivated by the film of her as younger woman early in her time in New Mexico set against her at 90, listening to talk about paintings that were based on the bones she found in the high desert, telling a bit about the iconic painting shown here.

Her words were direct and plain-spoken in a mid-western voice that reflected her mid-western upbringing. There’s an interesting juxtaposition of her speaking in very simple terms about her work set against a curator speaking in a bit of artspeak. I’m not saying his point wasn’t valid. It was just interesting to see how she spoke easily on the subject, spoken with the ease of just being who she was.

It was just a neat clip that reminded me of why I liked her work so much in those early years. As I said, this is just a clip and I am sorry that I don’t know where you can see the entire film. But enjoy this and perhaps you’ll stumble across the whole film some other day.





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The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress. Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployment insurance, old-age pensions, government relief for the destitute and, above all, new wage levels that meant not mere survival but a tolerable life. The captains of industry did not lead this transformation; they resisted it until they were overcome. When in the thirties the wave of union organization crested over the nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole society.

Martin Luther King, Jr.



Another Labor Day. I have ran the essay below with the historic Lewis Hine photos a couple of times on past Labor Days and thought it would be appropriate to do so again today. I added a song from Lee Dorsey that fits the subject somewhat at the bottom:

If you ask someone what the holiday represents they will no doubt say that it is symbolic end of summer. A last picnic. One last real summer weekend at the lake or shore. If you push them they might finally say that it honors the workers of this country.

But it really was created to celebrate the American Labor Movement, those unions and organizers that brought about all of the changes that Dr. King pointed out in the quote above from his 1965 speech before the AFL-CIO.

Fair wages, a shorter workday, a safer workplace, pensions, unemployment insurance, health insurance, vacations, maternity leave, paid holidays such as today– all of these things came from the hard and dangerous efforts of union organizers.

As King points out, the owners– the captains of industry— did not agree willingly to these changes.

Hardly.

No, they fought with every resource at their disposal including the influence they bought from politicians and the use of violence. The history of the labor movement is littered with bodies of workers killed in skirmishes with the forces of the owners.

Every step of progress throughout our history has been opposed by those in power. But progress and change has always come thanks to the efforts of people like those in the labor movement.

The use of children in the workforce was another thing that was ultimately changed by the labor movement. It’s hard to believe that the scenes shown here in the famed photos of  photographer and social reformer Lewis Hine took place just over a hundred years ago in the coal mines of eastern Pennsylvania. Harder yet to believe is that federal labor laws for child labor were not fully enacted until 1938. Earlier attempts at legislation by congress in 1916 and 1922 had been challenged in court by industry and were deemed unconstitutional.

Lewis Hine -Penn Coal Co Ewen Breaker Pittston 1911Imagine your child (or your nephew or grandchild) at age 12. Imagine them spending 10 or 12 or even 14 hours a day, six days a week in one of the breaker rooms of a coal mine like the one shown here on the right. Hunched over in the gritty dust of the coal, they picked the coal for differing sizes and to sort out impurities. Imagine the men who are shown in the photo with sticks poking your child, perhaps kicking him to speed him up. Imagine all of this for  seven and a half cents per hour.

There was no school books for these kids. No soccer. No violin practices. No college prep or videogames. Just a future filled with misery and drudgery and most likely a black lung.

Try to imagine that.

And think that it was all taking place less than a hundred years ago and it ended because of the labor unions and the brave and conscientious people who fought for them.

I know there are problems that arose in the unions over time. They are not perfect by any means. Like all things human, they are susceptible to corruption and selfishness.

But that doesn’t take away from the incredible progress that labor unions provided for our nation’s workers which gave us the most prosperous times in our history. Despite their shortcomings, the idea of workers uniting to have one strong voice is as important now as it was a century ago. Perhaps even more now that corporate world’s political power is enormous and the wealth which buys it is concentrated at the top at historic levels.

So celebrate the day at the shore or in a picnic. Have a great day. But take one single moment and think of those kids in those Pennsylvania mines or in those southern mills and the people who fought to set them free.



Group of Breaker boys. Smallest is Sam Belloma, Pine Street. (See label #1949). Location: Pittston, Pennsylvania.Lewis Hine Young Miners

Lewis Hine -Pennsylvania Coal Company  Ewen Breaker Pittston 1911

Noon hour in the Ewen Breaker, Pennsylvania Coal Co. Location: South Pittston, Pennsylvania.

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Magalenha

Sergio Mendes Brasiliero



The difference between the right word and the almost right word is really a large matter – it’s the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

– Mark Twain



For this Sunday Morning music, I decided on playing a song from Sergio Mendes, the renowned Brazilian musician who has been around for what seems like forever. His first album came out in 1961 so his work has been around for most of my life. He’s considered a Brazilian artist and his music is primarily based in the rhythms and sounds of his homeland but he has mainly recorded and toured in the States throughout his career. Kind of like a musical ambassador.

Though I know the name, I don’t know much about his music except the stuff from the 1960’s like The Look of Love. Kind of a soft bossa nova is how I’d describe it, I guess. So, coming across the track below, Magalhena, was a surprise. It felt like the polar opposite of The Look of Love or any of his other hits. Big rhythmic drum sounds that feel like they could be pulled from some sultry tropical festival.

I tried to find the lyrics and they are, of course, in Portuguese. Every translation I could find was different and felt like it was done only with a computer program and no human input. The phrasing was weird and seemed to make little sense. Like bring the password to the stove and come make frames. I checked several sites and they were all different and equally strangely worded. I take it that there is a lot of Brazilian colloquialisms that don’t register well with translation programs from the Portuguese.

But while the words don’t translate well, the music does. It’s a stirring way to get a Sunday morning kicked off. Be warned: if you want a sleepy tune this morning, do not listen to this track.



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Pie in the Sky

Industrial_Workers_of_the_World


Since we’re in the midst of the Labor Day weekend, I thought I would have something labor related. It is a holiday celebrating the working classes after all, something we often forget as we rush to get in that last weekend of the summer. I am a big proponent of organized labor and have talked here before about the labor movements transformation of American life. The middle class rose out of the mighty efforts labor unions in the early 20th century.  Almost every right we now take for granted in the workplace was fought for– and I mean fought for— by workers and organizers who banded together to demand better working conditions and higher wages.

This important part of history that is not well known enough but is something to bear in mind on a weekend meant to honor it.

There were some important names in the labor movement of the early 20th century but maybe none so polarizing as that of Joe Hill, a Swedish immigrant who came to America in 1902 and soon after, as an itinerant laborer, became involved with the labor movement. He joined the Industrial Workers of the Worldthe Wobblies— and wrote some of the most memorable labor songs of the time, songs which are still played today– The Preacher and the Slave (Pie in the Sky) and There Is Power In a Union.

In 1914, Hill was working in the silver mine areas of Utah when he was accused of a double murder. Many believe that Hill was innocent , that the evidence cited did not line up with the facts of the case, yet he was found guilty. Many believed that his labor connections were the deciding factor in the guilty verdict. He was executed by firing squad in November, 1915.

Hill did little to help himself, remaining silent about a wound that the prosecution claimed was inflicted on him during the murder. Hill’s fiancee later stated that Hill had wrote her from prison, saying that an ex-lover of hers had shot him. But Hill seemed to sense that he meant more to the movement as a martyr.

In one of his final notes to Bill Haywood, an IWW leader, Hill wrote:

“Goodbye Bill. I die like a true blue rebel. Don’t waste any time in mourning. Organize. Could you arrange to have my body hauled to the state line to be buried? I don’t want to be found dead in Utah.”

They honored his request, removing his body to Chicago where he was cremated. His ashes were divided into 600 small packets which were distributed around the world by the Wobblies to be cast to the winds.

He did become a martyr for labor, celebrated in word and song. The name Joe Hill when spoken still draws the attention of those who know their history.

Here’s version of his song The Preacher and the Slave, also known as Pie in the Sky from Utah Phillips, complete with a wonderful story about the song. We all get promised things that will come to us in the future and more often than not– I am thinking of trickle-down economics as much as the afterlife here– they seldom pan out. It’s all pie in the sky.

So, enjoy some real pie this Labor day weekend and ignore those promised pies in the sky.




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Rabbit Hole

rabbithole1



That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

–Aldous Huxley



I was going to write abut this quote from Aldous Huxley, the late write/philosopher who gave us the dystopian classic Brave New World. It does, after all, seem to be pertinent to much of what is happening in this country. It seems that we often fail to see or ignore the lessons of history and then go on to repeat many of those same actions. With the same result. Or worse.

I stand by these worlds from Huxley but the interesting thing this morning was that while researching this quote, I found myself running down a long and twisting rabbit hole. The quote, you see, is the first sentence Huxley wrote in a 1956 article for Esquire Magazine titled A Case of Voluntary Ignorance. The first several paragraphs discuss our willingness to ignore the lessons of history, instead believing that we will somehow produce different and better consequences.

But beyond that the article goes into a discussion of the history of mesmerism and hypnotism. and its place in the medical world of the 19th century. It’s not a subject about which I have any knowledge and I found it interesting. Huxley wrote about a British surgeon in India in the mid 1800’s who did a wide range of dangerous surgeries painlessly on patients without any sort of anesthesia — there actually was none yet available at that time– by the use of mesmerism alone. It was also called magnetism from the term animal magnetism which many early purveyors of this pseudoscience used to describe the animating life force of all living creatures.

The surgeon, James Esdaile, would bring in patients– almost all lower caste criminals from a local prison (which means he was actually doing human experimentation that would no doubt border on crimes against humanity) and without telling them would mesmerize them over the course of several hours until they were in a deep trance-like state. He would then operate on whatever ailment needed attention. This included amputation of limbs.

His patients felt no pain and most recovered. The recovery is the most amazing thing because at that time, major surgery in any place on the face of he earth meant that the patient had a very good chance of dying either during surgery or in the aftermath. Surgeons and their staff didn’t even wash their hands beforehand and the idea of antiseptics or anesthesia was still years away.

Most surgeons had fatality rates among their patients well over 25%. Esdaile had a rate of less than 5%.

The article goes on to discuss how his results were debated and denied among the medical establishment of the time. Many physicians believed that pain was necessary and that anything that diminished it was against science as they knew it. However, mesmerists became part of that establishment for a time in the 19th century.

It was an interesting article. Hypnosis and mesmerism are not subjects we discuss often, after all. To see them play so prominent a role in the medical world of that time ( and even the 1950’s as Huxley  wrote about in the article) was eye catching.

I ended up looking through the online historical newspaper to see if their were mesmerists who practiced locally in that era. I didn’t spend much time so I can’t speak definitively but found that mesmerists were mainly entertainment attractions in this area at that time. Several had large following and returned year after year for a week or two at a time at large halls and auditoriums.

One, John Reynolds, appeared throughout this region — all of New York state and much of Pennsylvania– for many years. He eventually retired and began selling magnetic bearing items which were supposed to have curative powers. These were advertised in local papers throughout the region.

The animal magnetism actually had something to do with magnets, it seems.

You probably are wondering what the heck the point is here. I guess there isn’t one. This has no bearing on anything and I have no end to this little bit of writing except that it’s odd how one thing sometimes leads us in directions we weren’t expecting.

If you’re looking for something of more consequence, you can go the Esquire article from Huxley by clicking here. The first three paragraphs certainly pertain to this and any time.

Okay, too much time spent underground in this rabbit hole. Gotta go.

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Pax Omnis

2021 Imagine Artist Kites GC Myers sm



I was recently asked by our local arts organization, The Arts of the Southern Finger Lakes, to take part in a public art installation, ART Lifts Us Up!, as part of their IMAGINE! Public Art in the Plaza event which begins this evening and goes through the weekend, ending Sunday evening.

It is a festival taking place in and around the skating rink at the the Corning Civic Center Plaza and features public art installations, local artists, street performers/buskers, temporary art installations, as well as dynamic open-air theatre, music and dance performances. You can get more info including a schedule of events by clicking here.

As part of ART Lifts Us Up! I was asked to create a large kite. Though I knew the dimensions, I didn’t realize how large it was until I began to actually go to work on it. It was to be 88″ tall and 66″ wide and weigh no more than 10 pounds.

It was more of a challenge than I had anticipated. I have never built a kite and didn’t have a lot of time to experiment. I tied a couple of things but just didn’t like what I was seeing. I decided in the end on basically creating an actual painting on lighter canvas stretched over a kite-shaped lightweight wooden frame. 

The criteria for what I could paint was unlimited. By that, I was told to paint whatever I wanted so long as it expressed my feelings coming out of the pandemic– or, at least, at his point in the pandemic– and going into the future.

I had a lot of concepts but was short on time to create such a large piece on such a large concept.

I mean, how do you, as an artist, sum up the experiences that have taken place in this world in the past year?

Do you focus on the pandemic? The all too many lives lost and the redemptive power of the vaccines?

Or the racial inequality and police violence that led to the widespread protests of last year?

Or do you focus on the political sphere, where fearmongering, disinformation, and misinformation has replaced policy and research for many politicians, particularly those on the far right? Do you focus on those things that divide us? The growing threat of fascism throughout the world or the violence and chaos of the insurrection of January 6 in our own capital?

Or do you put all that aside and focus on our climate which is beginning to show the awful effects—the more severe wildfires, droughts, storms, flooding, etc. –that come with its changing nature?

Without question, the world has gone through a lot in the past year or so.  Everyone has been put under great amounts of stress, more than we have experienced in generations, from all corners.

And it has revealed both our better and worse angels. The good and the bad. The beautiful and the ugly.

It has been a severe test for us all.

Through it all, I found myself desiring little more than a bit of peace, both in the reality of the wider world and in the space of my own mind.

As I considered these things, a phrase came to mind—Pax Omnis.

Peace for All.

It was that thought, that phrase, that led me in the creation of my kite. The events of the past year have shown that we that we are all connected, that none of us is an island unto ourselves. The virus and the quickly changing climate have certainly proven that. We need cooperation and a united aspiration to something greater than our own small, individual concerns, if we are to survive as a species.

Because until there is peace of mind for all, there is truly no lasting peace of any kind for any of us.

Pax Omnis.

I hope you can make it at some point to the IMAGINE! event in Corning this week. It looks to be a great way to see examples of those things that bind us together.

Imagine that…

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Charles Burchfield-1916-44-autumnal-fantasy

Charles Burchfield– Autumnal Fantasy



But it’s a long, long while from May to December
And the days grow short when you reach September
And the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
And I haven’t got time for waiting game

September Song, Kurt Weill



First day of September, finally free of the drag and slog of August that often feels like an incessant headache to me. Even the air is cooler and fresher this morning. They say the temps might even get into the 40’s early Saturday morning.

Refreshing.

As I have done on every first September morning for the past twelve or thirteen years, I spent a good amount of time listening to different versions of the old standard, September Song.

Written by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Maxwell Anderson, it was first sung, surprisingly, by actor Walter Huston in the stage production of Knickerbocker Holiday back in 1938. Since then it has been covered by literally many hundreds of musicians and singers throughout the world and most of them are pretty good versions.

It’s just that good a song. It has long been one of my favorites and I might even say it is my favorite among many favorites.

Every year on this day, I scroll through YouTube, listening to versions that I know and love and new one that have escaped my notice in the past. I had several choices I could have went with  from among the new ones this year. Some surprising ones, actually.

But I think I will hold onto them for future use. I do hope to do this again next September and for a few years beyond that, after all.

So, for this year’s September Song I am going with a Latin-tinged version from late jazz musician Cal Tjader. My knowledge of jazz is fairly shallow so Tjader is new to me. But his biography and resume is impressive. He was the drummer in the earlier incarnations of Dave Brubeck’s bands, served as a medic in World War II, tap danced as child onscreen with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, among other notable accomplishments. But he is primarily known as being a vibraphone player and one of the leading proponents of Latin and Afro-Cuban Jazz.

In fact, he is known as the most famous non-Latin Latin musician. He died in 1982 at age 56.

This version has a different feel than some of the others but is nonetheless effective. Let’s hope it portends a better September than the August we leave behind.



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