Tag Archives: music

Regular Poem: I’m Not Gonna Write You a Love Song

18 Apr

there’s a subgenre
of country western song
that’s all about
fist cities
and
taking jobs and shoving them
and
keys into sides of pretty little souped up four wheel drives
and
goin’ home and loadin’ shot guns waiting by the door lighting cigarettes

all precipated
by ill-fated
damaged and damaging
love affairs

they’re gorgeous
and terrible
indulgent
and twangy

but where
are all the
rage jazz tunes

i want to hear
julie london
croon to me
in that sexy basement register of hers
about vindictive vandalism

what would that sound like

a walking upright bass
the sizzle of a symbol
igniting
a tremble in the treble keys of a piano
then slow purring alto fury

now you say you’re sorry
when all you’ve got left is ash
you didn’t say i’m sorry
when all my hopes you did dash

the piano follows
the spiraling the ratcheting up
the bass drum’s
like a broken heartbeat

you thought you had my number
thought you could do me wrong
that i’d sit back and take it
but my fuse is short and my memory’s long

the strings pick up
the brass wails
it’s the chorus and we know
the ex-lover’s in for it now

the fire of our desire burned out
but passion in motion stays in motion
so i wasn’t going to stay home and pout
i’ll bet you’re wishing a lot of things
as your mercedes blows smoke rings
you were my bembo and i was your borgia
but that was over the day you left me
and tonight’s the night the lights go out in georgia

Regular Poem: The Arpeggio Conspiracy

30 Apr

an arpeggio’s
an arpeggio
they’re all the same
except they’re not of course
especially when
one of them
is so ugly

so ugly
it’s arresting
in its ugliness
and you look at the sheet music
and the chord it’s
ripped up and scattered from
isn’t ugly–
just regular–
not even like a suspended fourth
or anything

it’s ugly
like the drone string
on a perpetually out of tune
appalachian instrument

or perhaps more accurately
it’s ugly
like a transmission
that won’t shift
to the next gear
without a lot of
complaining about it

it’s like
watching a wobbly ceiling fan
and wondering
when the whole unit will just
fall on your head
and put you out of your misery

it’s either
too fast or too slow
this ugly arpeggio
and lilting and limping
into and out of chords
like a drunk with a bum leg
and it sets your teeth
to grinding
like when you have an aversion
to a certain tactile texture
except this is a sound texture
and it goes on
for measures and measures and measures
sometimes the whole song
it’s there
bubbling beneath the rest of the accompaniment
swirling and bouncing and tickling
your gut
as though it’s seeped in
through your ear canal and somehow
punched its way all the way down
and is now clawing to get out again

and you look around
with your neck stiff from
the anxiety of it
and either everybody else
has a better poker face than you
or it’s not as ugly as you think

but it is that ugly
it’s so ugly

and you have a thought
that this ugly arpeggio
is gaslighting you
somehow
you don’t know how
but you know
if any insentient thing
could make you think you were crazy
for fun and/or profit
it would be an arpeggio

The Best Rhymes in Classic Country

19 Apr

All this poetry this month has me thinking about rhyme–especially perfect end rhyme but also that other rhyme-y stuff like assonance, consonance, alliteration, slant rhyme, etc. I’ll admit most classic country songs consist of trite rhymes such as blue/you and train/rain (which have their place, of course), but this list contains purely the weird, wonderful, and word-play-ish.

Honorable Mention: Saginaw, Michigan by Lefty Frizzell

The Rhyme:

I wrote my love in Saginaw, Michigan.
I said, “Honey, I’m a-comin’ home; please wait for me.
“And you can tell your dad I’m coming back a richer man:
“I’ve hit the biggest strike in Klondike history.”

Why I Love It:  This whole song features a bunch of really forced feminine(multi-syllabic rhymes)  rhymes that (sometimes rather marginally) rhyme with Michigan.  This verse is my favorite because we not only get the Michigan/richer man one, which sounds close enough for a country song and has the added effect of being kind of an eye rhyme (looks as if it ought to rhyme but doesn’t) with the ch, but we also get the bonus feminine rhyme of for me/history.

Sometimes all this is just a little too ham-fisted to me, so the song earns merely an honorable mention.

#5:  He’ll Have to Go by Jim Reeves

The Rhyme:  Listen carefully next time for all the o sounds and ooh sounds.  SO MANY!!!

Why I Love It:  I love a song that can work a particular angle.  Gentleman Jim Reeves is trying to sell to us that he’s open, honest, earnest.  What vowel is more open than o?  None.  None more open.

#4:  9 to 5 by Dolly Parton

The Rhyme:

Tumble outta bed and stumble to the kitchen

Why I Love It:  The very first line of this fabulous song sets us up for the entire mood of it–hustle and bustle.  We’ve got a feminine internal rhyme (inside a line of poetry instead of at the ends of lines) of tumble/stumble, both of which are basically onomatopoieia (because they’re the sounds you make when you do them), and they both accurately portray just about anybody as he or she is ambling through a dimly lit corridor, stubbing toes and reaching blindly for coffee during the morning routine.

This tumble/stumble also stand as the only internal rhyme in the whole song, which adds to the jumble of everything in the morning–two words that use so much of one’s mouth to say/sing smushed in together in the very first line of a song?  Good work, Dolly.  You’ve got me listening!  (That typewriter-as-percussion doesn’t hurt either, of course.)

#3:  Fist City by Loretta Lynn

The Rhyme:

You better move your feet
if you don’t wanna eat
a meal that’s called Fist City.

Why I Love It:  I love too many songs to really have a favorite, but when asked I always respond with this one.  It’s so spiteful and so silly and so white trash, and I love it thoroughly.

So the rhyme here (feet/eat) is commonplace.  Nothing to write home about.  What makes this pop is the enjambment–the counter-intuitive line break between eat and a meal.  A listener knows that Fist City’s gotta make an appearance at the end of this verse, but when that listener first hears “if you don’t wanna eat,” that listener immediately ponders how exactly Loretta’s going to parlay that into something that ends in Fist City.  “Oh,” the listener says afterward, “the tramp’s going to eat a meal that’s called Fist City.  Oh wait, that makes ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE.”  But this song isn’t about sense.  It’s about blind rage and threats promises and ladies slugging it out in Fist City.

You’ve also got the ee assonance (repeated vowel sound) in feet, eat, meal, City, which shows a screeching harpy sort of side to our narratrix.  I mean, is there a vowel more grating and aggressive than the ee sound?  None.  None more grating.

#2: (Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song by B.J. Thomas

The Rhyme:  Oh goodness gracious.  Where to even start…  The entire song is a big poetic-sounds stew.

Why I Love It:  This song’s got it all!  Alliteration!  Assonance!  Internal rhyme!  Perfect end rhyme!  And it gets stuck in a person’s head for years at a time!

The defining factor, of course, is all the uh sounds: love, some, done giving the song a rather droning effect that is both smooth/comforting and sad at once (much like what our narrator is trying to accomplish by having the proverbial you play another cheatin’ song).  But a listener could surfeit himself for a week with all the assonance: hey, play; feel, baby, baby; I, cry; me, melody.  And then we’ve got that completely jarring won’tcha in the middle that breaks all the smoothness for just a moment as the narrator signals to the barman and tries to get his attention.

It’s just a wonderfully crafted little ditty, and I consider this blog post an act of contrition for hating it so much when I used to hear it all the time on easy listening radio stations.  Now I love it–admittedly mostly for nerdy reasons.

#1:  Coal Miner’s Daughter by Loretta Lynn

The Rhyme:

The work we done was hard.
At night we’d sleep ’cause we were tired.

Why I Love It:  Loretta Lynn, you’ve done it again!  You’ve captured dialect so perfectly, and I love you so!  This may or may not be my favorite rhyme ever.

Regular Poem: The Utilitarian Piano Player

9 Mar

The Utilitarian Piano Player
plays rather
inelegantly,
mechanically,

steamrolling sonatas,
plowing through preludes,
attacking accompaniments,
digging up études like a hog with truffles.

The Utilitarian Piano Player
excels at accelerando and good posture, but
her fingers move with the preciseness of a typist,
not the glamour of a painter;
she’s more chiropractor than masseuse–
more dermatologist than Mary Kay.

She’s bound by duty–
mostly–
to the science of piano:
someone’s violin solo
wasn’t going to accompany itself;
someone couldn’t figure out
the tricky baritone line to the choir number;
someone’s tap number makes more sense to the tune of “Tea for Two.”

It’s not that
she’s not
musical.

She is.

But not in some esoteric, artful way.
At least not in the piano realm.
She’s actually
probably
in real life
a lyric soprano, or
retired from teaching elementary school music, or
a choir master,
and
The Utilitarian Piano Player
does these things espressivo and cantabile and allegro;

however,

The Utilitarian Piano Player’s
piano playing
commands rather than cajoles,
instructs rather than illustrates.
It can be
choppy and formulaic and not
very pretty.
But one must remember–
it is
utilitarian,
after all.

Book 'Em, Jan O

Ghosts, Tall Tales & Witty Haiku!

grapeling

it could be that

Only Fragments

Love Letters to the Tar Pit

Life in a blog

All there is ever, is the now

Heartspring Stanley

A Heartspring Student Project

The League of Mental Men!

A Satirical Word In Your Shell-Like Ear

Deanna-Cian's Blog

An English student who stalks Benedict Cumberbatch. If I'm not pressed against cake shop windows then I'm rambling on about the press.

Fangirl Therapy

All the Feels & How to Deal

Live to Write - Write to Live

We live to write and write to live ... professional writers talk about the craft and business of writing

Barefoot Whispers

Medical doctor, book-lover, aspirant adventurer

iheartingrid

For the Love of Leading Ladies

Collective Thoughts Of My Journey

The liberation of my life, mind, and imagination that is no longer the part of the Collective..

Miss Lou Acquiring Lore

Gallery of Life...

Pitter Potter Mad Gardener

Sow, Love and Nurture