This is a “part two” post. If you have not read “part one,” none of this is going to make any sense. You can find the original post here.
I worked on that last post for a week, and I have all this content that just did not fit. Like a good writer, I tried to edit it down and just include what was most relevant (now that I have attended library school I keep thinking of that as “weeding”). So here I present you all the leftover things I kind of wanted to tell you, in endnote form. It seems self-indulgent to do so, but, hey, that’s what blogs are for, right?
When I was sixteen, a boy made me a mix tape.
There is something about that sentence that fixes me in time and culture.
caption=”View from Dalkey Castle”
These photographs of Dublin were taken by my husband or me in the summer of 2000.
I heard it first about a year ago on Brenda Dayne’s podcast Cast On.
Cast On is a podcast for knitters. I am not a knitter, so you may think it is strange that I listen to it, but some of the content is not knitting-related and I do not mind that which is. Knitting is not all that different from quilting and other crafts, after all. Brenda has a soothing voice and an intimate style. Hers is one of the first podcasts I found and remains my favorite. I think knitting and podcasts go together well—it might just be (one of) my corner(s) of the internet, but I think knitters were some of the first to jump on the scene with podcasts and the crafty presence in podcasting is still strong and growing. I love it. I have about forty-five podcasts I subscribe to in iTunes (hard to tell whether a couple have quit or are just taking a while between episodes, so my number is inexact), and—I just counted—nine of them are produced by knitters.
(Actually about knitting in large part: Cast On, CraftLit, and The Knitting Librarian. Mostly about quilting, but the podcasters also knit: Hip to Be a Square, Patchwork and Pacifiers, Quilted Cupcake, and Sew, Stitch, Create. About crafting in general, and the podcasters knit: CraftSanity and Creative Mom. [And not about crafts at all, but the podcaster crochets and talks about it on Cast On: QN Podcast.])
Brenda played it again recently, so when I had some free Amazon mp3 credits to use, I remembered it and downloaded it.
I prefer to buy my music on CDs for multiple reasons (and then import it to iTunes too), but I can’t pass up free gifts. I’m sure you’re dying to know what else I downloaded. Okay, I got Jonatha Brooke‘s “Linger” and Kate Voegele‘s version of the Leonard Cohen “Hallelujah.” I was going to get the Rufus Wainwright version, but after I searched by song title and came up with a page of hits, I just clicked on “sample all” and chose her partly because I wanted to support and try someone I hadn’t heard of and partly because I could sing along with her well.
I think it had me with the piano, and then it had me again when I heard the word “book.”
I have not played the piano regularly for more than twice as many years as I played the piano regularly. But I still think of the piano as my instrument and am drawn to it.
I have been reading The Man Who Lied to His Laptop, which is about human-computer interaction. The author, Clifford Nass, talks about research showing that we are much more likely to respond positively to people (and machines, it turns out) who reflect ourselves, who share traits and similarities, both physical and otherwise.
So am I drawn to piano-playing mezzo-sopranos because that’s how I identify myself? Do I like piano in my songs because I grew to love the piano through playing for many years or do I just appreciate the effort and skill that goes into piano playing? Or is there something in a person that leads her to wanting to play the piano and both these musicians and I have it? (Not that I would compare my childhood piano “career” to anything a professional does with the instrument.) Ah, the classic nature/nurture/it’s more complicated conundrum.
It was one of those songs that made me stop what I was doing in the kitchen so I could concentrate on listening.
And then I was very proud of myself for actually going and finding my cute little Moleskine book and writing down the name of the artist and song. However, although I am good at collecting, I am not so good at the doing something with the things I collect, and so a year later when I heard the song again, I still hadn’t gotten the information out of the notebook and done anything about it.
A quick search confirmed that the words are by William Butler Yeats.
Katy Wehr comments briefly on this in an article in Image (about a third of the way down). She likens writing the music to someone else’s words to a conversation. I like that. Also, she reveals that she is a quilter.
(That quilt was made by my great-grandmother. And didn’t she match my color scheme well?)
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
I haven’t want to spoil the poem/song any by reading interpretations or criticism of it, but when I was searching for a source to copy the words from, those little snatches of pages in Google kept catching my eye. It’s a wedding poem, a Valentine’s Day poem, but a classic “dark” poem. The speaker is a former lover, or it’s about unrequited love, or it’s written for a beloved. Huh. Seems like the authors of those free essays on the internet don’t quite agree with each other! We’ll have to think for ourselves.
I sat at my computer and listened to the song on my iPod nano with the earbuds in, reading the words while I did.
This confused the cats. They came and looked at me because they knew no one else was home and they couldn’t hear the music I was singing to. Percy in particular was very interested. He climbed up on the desk and stuck his face inches from my face. He has this look that he gets when he can’t figure out what you are doing but he is trying so very hard to understand.
caption=”Dublin Writers Museum”
I think the most eyeopening and culture-shocky thing about visiting Dublin was the way it celebrates its strong literary tradition. There are tributes to writers and literary figures throughout the city. Writers! A statue of James Joyce just hanging out on a busy street. A monument to Samuel Beckett, clearly a tourist attraction. Plaques in their parks and signs on their buildings, everywhere, mentioning writers and books. The most fascinating thing about the Dublin Writers Museum to me was that it existed, a whole museum dedicated to people like me.
I wasn’t sure what the “mention in the news of the world” line was, but after I looked it up on a lyrics site, I was able to learn the rest of the words by listening to the song on repeat.
Are there any sites more annoying than lyrics ones? I really tried to choose the least irritating ones to link to, but I’m sure you will encounter some fun pop-ups and flashy crap anyway, and for that I am sorry.
It surprises me that this method works for me, because I think of myself as a visual learner. It may only work if I’ve seen the lyrics and can picture them as necessary. One of my college roommates was a music major and singer. She learned the words to her songs by writing them over and over when she was supposed to be taking notes in her other classes. She’d write as much as she could, look at the lyrics, and then start over, writing as much as she could again. I don’t think I’ve ever tried that.
Every other day, on the way to the community college six miles away and back home again, on repeat—by the end of the week, I knew every word.
And then the next week I printed out the lyrics for my composition class and played them the song. They were writing personal essays, and I was trying to show them how collages worked. It occured to me that “Red Dirt Girl” was a collage essay in song form. You learn about Lillian through these little snapshots of her life given by the speaker. I’m not sure whether they appreciated it or not. They were a hard class to read. But if you teach writing, you may steal that idea from me.
When we’d buy CDs without them, my roommate and I would have to sit with our heads near the speakers and ask, “Okay, there, what is she saying about the moon? Rewind it.”
Yeah, I know, we’re talking about CDs, not tapes, so there’s no rewinding, but some of us are probably going to be rewinding discs and dialing cell phone numbers until we die. Or until those brain implants they’re going to invent any day now make discs and phones obsolete.
I had—or, my family had—one of those old boomboxes with only one side, and I would keep a blank tape in it and hit “record” when something I liked came over KKNG FM 92.5.
And I felt lucky to have such an advanced recorder! This was a step up from my clock radio, which had melted under the light of my bed lamp so that the alarm switch was permanently set to “on.”
I found pages from this notebook recently: a weird embarrassing mix of Air Supply and Dan Fogelberg from the radio, Xeroxed hymns and Amy Grant from church choir, and lots of John Denver handcopied from sheet music books checked out of the library.
One of the joys of moving is running across collections like that. I seem to have a lot of them (as I said above, I’m good at the collecting). I keep throwing things away (weeding), but then more surface. Oh, you want to see? Okay.
I’ve forgotten lots of things, but I can’t forget these words that I took the time to learn so thoroughly. I know them now, and they’re part of me.
So now they are in my head and I can sing them out loud when no one is home but me and the cats. And perhaps sometimes I pick up Tristan and make him dance with me.