Monday, March 12, 2007

Jake's Downloaded Songs + POEM: Singer

Caution: Do not attempt to hold me responsible for my husband's taste in music... It will not hold up in a court of law...

My husband has discovered the magic of purchasing and downloading singles off the web. He's in heaven. He's chosen a wide mix of stuff from U2 to Boston, from Five for Fighting to Stevie Nicks to Norah Jones (I hadn't heard anything by her before and I admit I'm loving it... so, I guess I can be held responsible for what I like...)

The song I find most hilarious/odd/strange in his new collection is 'Killing Me Softly' sung by Roberta Flack. What's fun about this one is that he got stuck on it 'cuz it's on the Fred Meyer music track... which means he hears it about every hour or so, and if the other guys in the sporting goods department knew he'd chosen it for a track at home... Anyway, I actually really like this song, and remember quite clearly the first time I heard it.

One Christmas when I was home from seminary & Fort Worth, I got the opportunity to go to a jazz performance on campus with my sister and my friend, Donna. We saw this great little group- I have no idea what they were called. I just remember how good they were. Piano, horn, and drums. Mostly we heard them play some good jazz stuff. I think the guy on piano sang some, but mostly it was just instrumental. Then about half-way through their set they invited someone to come sing with them. She was this beautiful tall black woman with a gorgeous alto voice. Smooth as silk and rich as chocolate. (very cliche, I know, but still true)
She sang 'Killing Me Softly', and it was amazing. I fell in love with the song. I went home and wrote a poem about hearing the song- probably a lousy poem, but that's what I do- I compulsively write about what strikes me.

Then I heard Flack's version... But after hearing the woman in the club, Flack just doesn't come close to that magic...

So, here's the story of the song, which Jake discovered on line while downloading all sorts of odd stuff- It's actually based on a poem written about an experience hearing Don McLean (of 'American Pie' fame) sing. So, this woman (Laurie something or other) heard McLean sing and wrote a poem based on that experience. Then her friends took the poem and wrote a song. And now, that song is a jazz standard.

It's funny to me that I wrote a poem based on hearing the song that was based on a poem that was based on hearing a song... So, here's the poem I wrote. I know it won't become a jazz standard :) but it's still a fun convoluted story...


I was alone
sitting in the back corner
protected by the dimness,
only a candle defining my memories.
The band played:
saxophone, drums, piano.
Three black men
filling the silence of my heart
so that I did not think,
did not need to feel.
You walked on stage
to the mike,
graceful and self-conscious.
An alto voice poured
over me like a healing
cleansing spring rain.
I held gold coins in my palms,
unspent and precious.
Summer whispered through
the room and danced
at my table.
Silk caressed my face,
soothed the wrinkles
of time away.
You whispered my name
not with lips,
but gently
your heart touched mine.

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