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Monthly Archives: April 2011

If the doors of perception were cleansed…


“Listen, real poetry doesn’t say anything; it just ticks off the possibilities. Opens all doors. You can walk through anyone that suits you,” said Jim Morrison. The layers of meaning in Morrison’s poetic song lyrics have been examined for almost four decades. Many of the analysis attempt a literal interpretation and some open “all doors” and “walk through anyone that suits” them.

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite,” said poet  William Blake. This inspired the writer Aldous Huxley’s book title The Doors of Perception which in turn led Jim Morrison to name his band The Doors.

Morrison died under mysterious circumstances at the age of twenty-seven and the doors to his personality and his lyrics (and even to the cause of his death) continue to be opened four decades later. I’m mostly interested in Jim Morrison, the poet. So, I’ve initiated this journey of discovery by looking at what he had to say about himself as an artist and about poetry.

“I see myself as an intelligent, sensitive human, with the soul of a clown which forces me to blow it at the most important moments,” are lines that resonate with me and provide a glimpse into who he was. As an artist myself, I also understand his philosophy “If my poetry aims to achieve anything, it’s to deliver people from the limited ways in which they see and feel. I like people who shake other people up and make them feel uncomfortable.”

I don’t know what I’ll find as I open more doors to Morrison and to his poetry but it promises to be an adventure.

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Posted by on April 23, 2011 in 60s music, art, lyrics, poetry, song, sound

 

It’s just the wasted years so close behind…


The melancholy in Lou Reed’s Sunday Morning is accentuated by the melody and the mellow sounds of the instruments, which include ringing of bells.

Reed’s lyrical style was informed by the French poet Charles Baudelaire, the Beat Generation writers, and many other poets. As I see it, this poem is transformed into a song simply by the repetition of a few lines, the tone of voice, and the inclusion of a few musical sounds. The lyrics retain the emotional textures that the poem lays out for examination.

Sunday morning, praise the dawning
It’s just a restless feeling by my side
Early dawning, Sunday morning
It’s just the wasted years so close behind
Watch out, the world’s behind you
There’s always someone around you who will call
It’s nothing at all
Sunday morning and I’m falling
I’ve got a feeling I don’t want to know
Early dawning, Sunday morning
It’s all the streets you crossed, not so long ago
Watch out, the world’s behind you
There’s always someone around you who will call
It’s nothing at all
Watch out, the world’s behind you
There’s always someone around you who will call
It’s nothing at all
Sunday morning
Sunday morning
Sunday morning

When I first came across Reed’s band Velvet Underground, in the 80s, I thought of them as an art-punk sound. I’ve heard various classifications since then, ranging from rock to punk to avant-garde (the band’s manager was Andy Warhol). Regardless of how he might be categorized, one thing is certain. Lou Reed’s songs are an artful combination of poetry and experimental sound that influenced many future generation of poets. “The nature of [Reed’s] lyric writing had been hitherto unknown in rock…he supplied us with the street and the landscape, and we peopled it,” David Bowie.

 

Tom’s Diner


In the 80s Suzanne Vega’s Tom’s Diner was a popular song. Except that it was more of a poem than a song. The only instrument she uses is her voice and she doesn’t exactly “sing” but narrates a story via the poem. She doesn’t “read” the poem either. Her voice blurs the line between singing and reciting.

So, unknowingly, millions of people heard and appreciated a poem while they thought they were listening to a song.

The world is overflowing with song and music. Yet, poetry remains a mystery to many and has not entered the popular conscience in the United States.

Since April is national poetry month, I am exploring the boundaries between poetry and music.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2011 in 80s Alternative, poetry, song

 

I can be the treble baby…


I can be the treble baby, you can be the bass
You can be the bass, you can be the bass

The poetry in the words and the beat are infective … I am happy to dance after the disappointment of the previous song. Considering her popularity, I was expecting stage presence and sensuality from Britney Spears but she was physically subdued and robotic in her movements… this song and dance, however, inspire her as much as it inspires the crowd.

But with the next song, she returns to her vacuous lyrics and mechanical imitation of dance sequences from the movie Flashdance… all I can do is watch the contrived media blitz where the number of phone cameras clicking exceeds the number of bodies responding to the lip-syncing and the clichéd beats pumping through the sound system.

I grew up eschewing all pop music. Heavy dosages of The Smiths, The Cure, and other 80s alternative bands were my mainstay with the exception of Madonna whose sensuality crossed all boundaries.

I had hoped to find some redeeming value in this popular icon’s presence in San Francisco. I was hoping for Madonna but found plastic Barbie.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2011 in bad music