Before the Flood II

- by Linn Barnes


Before the Flood  2

-Linn Barnes

The rain has collapsed the sky,

the river is bellowing  below us,

the woods are sagging, clumped over 

exhausted dancers, with no respite,

soaking a torrent down the ridge.

 

Small creatures will be driven from the safety

of their nests by the coming hostile assault 

to a watery death while grasping for roots 

and snapping branches in a final schuss to oblivion.


While from far out at sea lumbers great fear, 

destruction and possibly many deaths 

among the coastal souls who’ve chosen to stay

in the direct path of this roaring giant.

It is certain we mountain folk will get our share,

we will not be spared the howling wind, driving rain. 

Trees will collapse, littering the back roads, 

cutting power lines, dread and fear to the old and ill; 

generators will be ignited and roar their familiar tune.

We will certainly get a mirror of the tidal surge

when all the rivers will flood their banks and 

eat into the wooded borderland, creeping up 

the draws and climbing the hills where we will wait it out. 

These days, now darkening, water and tins of food 

safely hoarded, waiting for the wind to rise to a scream,

for the rain to knife horizontal through the demon air.


Before the Flood

- by Linn Barnes


Before the Flood

-Linn Barnes

The rain is collapsing the sky,

the river in bellowing  below us,

the woods are sagging, clumped over 

exhausted dancers, with no respite,

soaking a torrent down the ridge. 

Small creatures are driven from the safety

of their nests by the hostile assault

to a watery death while grasping for roots 

and snapping branches in a final schuss to oblivion.


All this, while far out at sea lurks a great

fear, death and destruction to the many

in the direct path of the coming hurricane.

And, it is certain we will get our share,

we will not be spared the wind and the rain. 

We may even get a mirror of a tidal surge

when all the rivers will flood their banks and 

eat into the wooded borderland, creeping up 

the draws and climbing the hills where we will sit it out; 

these days, now darkening, waiting for the wind to rise…




Music at Dawn, The Proper Way for a Sound Life

- by Linn Barnes


"It is dawn, and the world goes forth to murder dreams..."-E.E. Cummings

This proposition is a tough one to deal with given what we are faced with on a daily basis, made worse, in our times, by the immediacy of all things in the digi-drama assaulting us from all sides. Truth is, it's hard to get a breath, much less actually do something that's not going to make things even nuttier than they already are. There seems little respite from the quarrelsome drama from dawn to the end of each either dramatic, fearful, anxiety ridden or, on the other hand, just plain boring day. 'There's so much confusion, is there no relief?', writes Dylan so perfectly, as usual.

Here's how things go down for this old guy, like most of us in our middle 70's, at least somewhat retired. I'm usually up very early, 5:30 or 6:00. I make a tea and go to my studio (musicians say studio, not office. Some years back I referred to my work hovel as my office to another musician and it was kind of like the 'jelly'ad: 'you said what...?' So, I caved and have stuck with 'studio', at least around those who think of themselves as the cognoscenti. Whatever you call it, it's just a room where I can hide and do what I want, that simple. But, 'what I want', is a little more complex. Music has been my life's passion. I was one of the lucky ones whose parents decided that I should learn to play an instrument. There were a few rough starts, like when I was sent to Mrs. Gluon, or something, for piano lessons at age 6 or 7. Well, there was no piano in our house... So, I was assaulted by the obscuratimus gianganicus pain-in-the-assicus once a week and I have nothing to show for it. 'When I think back on all the crap...' to bring Paul Simon into the mix. However, I did have a better source for enthusiasm. My uncle, George Barnes, who wrote for the NYT for a while, was involved in the birthing of Israel with a guy named Eric (I think) Johnson, lots of intense stuff. He was a very cool guy who played violin, piano and guitar. He was my father's older brother. and they were good friends. Holidays were spent together and there was always music. When I think back, there was a little of the Dylan Thomas 'Child's Christmas in Wales', only it was in Potomac, Maryland ... He showed me 'stuff' on the guitar, which, since I didn't have an instrument, I, of course, immediately forgot, but I did not forget what it felt like to hold the thing and make it make a sound, a sound that was made by me, for me, and, if I chose, for no one else to ever hear. I remember how this clicked. It has never changed, even after over 50 years of performance in public spaces all over the place.

Anyway, when I turned 10, the family packed up and moved to Paris, my father, the CIA guy's, new assignment. We stayed for three years, three years without a single note. The closest thing I had to music was the dial tone and French accordion music in the bistros and cafés, which was wonderful but strange for a little American kid.  I went to French schools, first public in a little village outside of Paris, and then in Paris proper. If you are interested in more details about this experience, I recommend, 'Bright Hours, a cold war story', by yours truly, available on Amazon. It was intense, the whole deal. We returned in '56 and almost immediately I had a classical guitar and was taking lessons at Sophocles Papas' Guitar Shop down on M st. It was very cool, and it, quite frankly, made a 'regular life' out of the question. This was the part my parents never really got. I had tested high for medicine on something or other, so confidence was high. I'm not sure how I fooled them, but I did... Academics eluded me for a very long time, until after creeping through my BA, I went to grad school and became a nut for the brainy stuff. That is another story... 

From that moment on, without knowing why or how, I was, au font, as les Français would say, a totally hooked fanatic about whatever it was this guitar thing was all about. I had no idea what was actually happening, just that I liked it a lot. And, by 'liked' I mean it made me feel good, certainly much better that before, without 'it'.

And, now, finally, here's at least some of the point I would like to share with you, mes amis. It was never a matter of being good on the guitar, writ large, at music, or 'better' than the other guy, although I cannot deny that some competition has always been part of the sport, especially when I was very young. However, I became a master of doing 'it', the daily 'practice of the art', and that's what mattered, although it took me many years to get a grip on that. The 'Practice', not un-akin to Gurdjieff's notion of 'the work' is the key to the understanding of what happens at these moments. Music, I have found to be the case, focus' the mind and feeds the soul. And here is the secret, which I've been ranting about for a long time: You are not, repeat not, required to achieve virtuosity for all of these favorable events to transpire. It is, in other words, not the 'stuff' of it, but the 'doing' of it. It's not complicated. Get a guitar, for example, find a teacher you like, and play a bit every day. Your age matters not. Your progress has no meaning. What works, works. This is a kind of joy that is a balm for weary souls and it will be for a least a large swatch of you, should you give it a try. Give it a try.

This is the way I try to teach. It works for most, save the most competitive, who will remain the most unhappy, which makes me a bit sad. 'All' cannot be 'saved', but maybe you can...

More to come...



After the Funeral

- by Linn Barnes

After the Funeral


After the funeral, 

the ceremony and the burial,

after the vast sadness of 

John’s death has sunk in, 

after all that was publicly said about John,

if you agreed with his policies or not, 

and so many applauded in tears

the derision leveled against Trump, 

and so much hatred and disgust 

was leveled in tears, in anger

 and in reason against Trump,

you would have thought 

he would have found a dark hole 

somewhere far from the cameras, 

where, alone, he could shudder and wonder

why he brought so much shame

upon himself, and how, 

now, he might seek atonement,

become a better and saner man.


You would think that, 

every reasonable person would think that,

and you would be wrong, 

for he did nothing of the kind. 

He tweeted and tweeted, 

over and over, 

nonsense babble,

psychotic drivel concocted

for his cadres of rustic sycophants, 

as they collectively 

discussed the coming violence

they would initiate 

should he be overturned, 

should the witch hunt prevail,

how gleefully they would bring 

chaos to the streets of our land.


An unimaginable and perverse

iteration of America is being 

churned out before our very eyes and ears.

And it grinds on and on with no end in sight. 

Does this man somehow think all his posturing has purpose, 

that he is here to teach and reform, 

to bring about a sweltering and exploding 

new Jerusalem, where racism will win out,

where cruelty will prevail, where money, 

vast amounts of ill gained money

will dictate solutions, where our oligarchs, as in Russia, 

will rule the land and the poor and helpless 

will have no other choice but 

to join the growing ranks of the absurd?


It seems Mr Trump has a mission.


Are there any heroes left in the land?

Will the Congress not finally stand up and 

put an end to this aberration of truth and justice.


Beamer Drivin' Wom'n (revised Short Haired Woman by Lightning Hopkins)

- by Linn Barnes

Lightin’ Hopkins, bluesman par excellence, man, he hated wigs,

all his wife (wives) ever seemed to want, 

and he wrote about it: 

 

‘Short haired Woman Blues’

I don't want no wom'n, 

if her hair it ain't no longer 'an mine 

I don't want no w'man, 

if her hair it ain't no longer 'an mine 

Yeah, ya know, she ain't no good for nothin' but trouble, did ya know 'at? 

Vets keep ya buyin' rats all the time 

Yeah, you know I got on the good side of my woman, 

I told her, "Darlin', I's a-comin' to go have some fun" 

You know, I went to make her swing out when a rat fell from her head like, 

one from a burnin' barn 

I just don't want, want no woman, 

boy, if her hair it ain't no longer 'an mine 

Whoa, ya know she ain't no good for nothin' but trouble 

Vets keep ya buyin' rats all the time 

Yeah, you know rats and wigs'll get ya killed 

Yeah, you know I got on the good side of my woman, 

I told her, "Darlin', I's comin' to go have some fun" 

You know, I went to make her swing out when a rat fell from her head like, 

one from a burnin' barn 

I say, I don't want no woman, 

boy, if her hair it ain't no longer 'an mine 

You know she ain't no good for nothin' but trouble, did ya know 'at? 

Vets keep ya buyin' rats all the time.


Now, this is a great song, funny and ridiculous, but

Somehow, I doubt this notion would be long lived in modern life….

Lots of reasons for wigs these days, no longer funny…

Guess the tune needs a re-write:  How about:


Beamer Wo'm Blues

I don’t want no wom’n

if her car much better than mine

I don’t want no w’man

if her car much better than mine

Yeah, ya know, she ain't no good for nothin' but trouble, did ya know 'at? 

Likes keep you buyin’  beamers all the time

Yeah, you know I got on the good side of my woman, 

I told her, "Darlin', I's a-comin' to go have some fun" 

You know, I went to make her swing out when the keys fell from her hand like, 

one from a burnin' hotdog bun 

I just don't want, want no woman, 

boy, if her car much better than mine

Whoa, ya know she ain't no good for nothin' but trouble 

Likes keep ya buyin' beamers all the time 

Yeah, you know beamers and mercs'll get ya killed 

Yeah, you know I got on the good side of my woman, 

I told her, "Darlin', I's comin' to go have some fun" 

You know, I went to make her swing out when the keys fell from her hand like, 

one from a burnin' hotdog bun 

I say, I don't want no woman, 

boy, if her car much better 'an mine 

You know she ain't no good for nothin' but trouble, did ya know 'at? 

Likes keep ya buyin' them beamers all the time.


The Shank of the Day

- by Linn Barnes

The Shank of the Day

-Linn Barnes


At the shank of the day,

with the sun burning down,

with the winds standing dead still, 

with the measure of time suspended

in the vast furnace of late summer, where

even the crows are quiet and the vultures don't fly.


Now, even music loses the drive to be

heard and the strings protest 

the hands of the player, 

wilted and dripping,

unwilling to add even one more 

measure to this late summer mix.


And while it is not exactly sadness,

but rather a portrait of soggy melancholy

which, troubling as it may be,

rattles not the hidden hive of the heart,

while we sit motionless beneath a dying oak

and watch the leaves begin to fall unchallenged 

to the waiting and bone dry earth below.






Fund-Raiser for Kid Pan Alley

- by Linn Barnes

As September rolls in, things are bustling and changing in spite of the continuing heat.. It will be in the 90's today with no let up in sight. But the tell-tales are at work. The light is shifting to a Fallish slant and the leaves are blowing and falling in the early rounds. There's much more to come, but you gotta start somewhere...

Allison and I had a great rehearsal this morning for the benefit program for Paul Reisler's "Kid Pan Alley', s truly wonderful creation for stimulating exactly that among the young: Creativity through song writing. We are going to play a short program with a variety of other artists.  Right now it looks like we'll be playing Harp and standard guitar and, this is the killer, harp and harp-guitar duets, which we think will be interesting and fun for this varied audience a little later in September.  We're going to do a bit of a bouillabaisse of tunes: a March from Galicia, the northernmost province of Spain, an air from Ireland, a fancy gig from Ireland, four 16th century lute pieces combined with two blues by Mississippi John Hurt, and a composition.  We're to try and cram it all into twenty minutes which may work if we play presto through the whole deal...



A Celtic Christmas

- by Linn Barnes


It is with great pleasure that I announce to all interested folks that Allison and I have released a new CD: 'A Celtic Christmas', on Oak Leaf records. This is a compilation of our favorite pieces played for our annual Christmas program in Washington at the Dumbarton Concert Series for the past 38 years. It is an inside look at what for us has been a work of love over the last many years. 

 


Greetings, once again...

- by Linn Barnes

Mes amis,

I decided to link my blogging to my website for Barnes and Hampton. The 'old' blog I now pronounce 'fini'. We shall start afresh here in novelle blogland. More to come...



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