"Anthem" by Leonard Cohen

"The birds they sang at the break of day
Start again, I heard them say
Don't dwell on what has passed away
or what has yet to be...

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in"

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mom and me: 1962

Mom and me: 1962
Originally uploaded by musicmuse_ca

"Cactus" by Beth K

It is so hard to get my arms around it,
this giant cactus, with all of her sharp spikes.

I think to myself, "this time
it will be different.
If I approach her carefully, gently,
slowly take her into my arms,
this time it won't hurt

I only want to touch the soft skin I can see
just beneath her quills.
The sweet fragrance of her flower draws me in....

And here I am,
still pulling out each of the
many quilly daggers
lodged in my flesh
from every other time I tried to sink
into her embrace.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

La Chanson des Vieux Amants (Jacques Brel)

I learned this song in back in the 1960's when I was a teenager, from a record I had of Jacques Brel. He was very popular in NYC at the time. There was a musical called "Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris" that was a hit on Broadway . Judy Collins also covered this song on one of her records then too.

I played the record over and over again to get the words (this was way before the internet. It would have been so much easier now). I performed it for a modern dance show at my High School. I had only a vague idea then what this song was about.

Now that I am older, it resonates so much more strongly for me....

Here are the French lyrics, with my English translation :

"La Chanson De Vieux Amants" by Jacques Brel

(The Song of Old Lovers) English translation by me

1) Bien sûr, nous eûmes des orages (Of course, we have had our storms)

Vingt ans d`amour, c`est l`amour fol (Lovers for 20 years, it is a crazy love)
Mille fois tu pris ton bagage
(A thousand times you have packed your bags)
Mille fois je pris mon envol
(A thousand times, I have taken flight)
Et chaque meuble se souvient
(And each piece of furniture remembers)
Dans cette chambre sans berceau
(in this room without a cradle)
Des éclats des vieilles tempêtes
(the claps of old thunderstorms)
Plus rien ne ressemblait à rien
(Nothing is the same anymore)

Tu avais perdu le goût de l`eau (You have even lost the taste for water)
Et moi celui de la conquête
(And me only the taste for conquest)


Mais mon amour (But my love)

Mon doux, mon tendre, mon merveilleux amour (My sweet, my tender , my marvelous love)
De l`aube claire jusqu`à la fin du jour (
from the clear dawn until the end of the day)
Je t`aime encore tu
sais je t`aime (I love you still, you know I love you)

2) Moi, je sais tous tes sortilèges
(Me, I know all your sorceries)
Tu sais tous mes envoûtements
(You know all my magic tricks)
Tu m`as gardé de pièges en pièges
(you have kept me safe from trap to trap)
Je t`ai perdue de temps en temps
(I have lost you from time to time)
Bien sûr tu pris quelques amants
(Of course, you have taken a few lovers)
Il fallait bien passer le temps
(You surely have to pass the time)
Il faut bien que le corps exulte
(The body must know rapture)
Finalement finalement
(Finally finally)
Il nous fallut bien du talent
(It took us a lot of talent)
Pour être vieux sans être adultes
(To become old without becoming adults)


Oh, mon amour ,mon doux, mon tendre, mon merveilleux amour
De l`aube claire jusqu`à la fin du jour
Je t`aime encore, tu
sais, je t`aime

3) Et plus le temps nous fait cortège (And the more time marches on)
Et plus le temps nous fait tourment
(The more time torments us)
Mais n`est-ce pas le pire piège
(but isn't it the worst trap)
Que vivre en paix pour des amants
( for lovers to live in peace?)
Bien sûr tu pleures un peu moins tôt
(Of course you cry a little less easily)

Je me déchire un peu plus tard (I tear myself apart a little more slowly)
Nous protégeons moins nos mystères
(We protect our secrets less and less )
On laisse moins faire le hasard
(We take fewer chances)
On se méfie du fil de l`eau
(we don't trust the stream of water)
Mais c`est toujours la tendre guerre
(but it is always a tender war)

Oh, mon amour...
Mon doux, mon tendre, mon merveilleux amour
De l`aube claire jusqu`à la fin du jour
Je t`aime encore tu
sais je t`aime.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry (Hank Williams)

I learned this Hank Williams classic when I was a teenager, from a summer camp counselor who came from Austin Texas. He taught me how to finger-pick, for which I am eternally grateful. This is a shot of me looking at the camera at age 13 with my guitar, learning an arrangement from my handsome camp counselor. Wherever you are today, thanks for teaching me Doc Watson, Hank Williams and Libba Cotton. I worked out my arrangement for "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" at that time, and I haven't change it much in the past 40 years...

Between him and one of my best friends in High School who was into Country music, I expanded my musical repertoire from Folk Songs (of the Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell variety) and show tunes (because Julie Andrews was one of my musical heroes), to Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Emmylou Harris, Graham Parsons and the Carter Family.

And the rest is not just history, but my musical life so far...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Across the Great Divide (Kate Wolf)

Kate Wolf died the year I discovered her music, over 20 years ago now. I never got to see her perform in person, but I listened to her music and learned many of her songs that I later went on to perform myself in concerts. I have been told that I sound like her, which I consider the highest of praise.

I am posting a video of me singing her song "Across The Great Divide" that I recorded yesterday.

(For all you tech nerds and geeks out there: I recorded this in my garage on my Mac desktop. I used IMoveHD, with a Shure8900 microphone plugged into an imic that was plugged into my Mac. Combine this with my isight that has the light attachment, and it worked like a dream!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My grandfather, Jock (1934)

From my grandfather’s obituary (Montreal Star, 1935):

 “....at the outbreak of war (WWI), he acted as a recruiting officer for the Irish Rangers and eventually went overseas with them., transferring to the 14th Battalion, Royal Montreal Regiment and serving 17 months in the trenches. He took part in many important battles. He was gassed in 1918 and invalided home.

He never recovered from the gas poisoning, and suffered from tuberculosis. But he was always of a cheerful disposition and never complained, and frequently used to meet his many friends about the city with a joke and a smile.

He was attacked by cancer of the jaw and went to the hospital for radium treatment, but despite every attention, he gradually became worse and was taken to his home July 12, there to remain until his death Tuesday morning.....”

Friday, November 7, 2008

Of Feather Boas and Bunnies...

CJ 1988
Originally uploaded by musicmuse_ca
My daughter is going through a rough patch right now.

We are close, and always have been. But some things a mom just cannot fix. It is hard to watch her struggle. What can I do to help her come to terms with her crushing disappointment? How do I guide her through the sorrow of not achieving what she had her heart set on for so long?

I wish it was as easy as it used to be when she was little. All she needed then was a feather boa and a bunny to make her day!

Now her world is so much more complicated.

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