Personal Interpretation

Hey, pppssst, how would you like to think about something different for a few moments?  You do? Oh good.
Warning: The following post has nothing to do with COVID-19.

Do you listen to satellite radio in your car?  I do.  I’m in my car a lot these days and discovering that space is, well, kinda nice.  For SOME reason my car is becoming a bit of a sanctuary for me.  So, anyway, I hear Led Zeppelin’s version of “When The Levee Breaks” the other day on “Classic Vinyl” and I started thinking about the way music is interpreted.

In 2011-2015 I was producing a music history radio program called Boosie’s Playhouse Classic Blues.  The program took a historical look at the first 50 years of the recorded blues.  The American blues are unique in many ways.  The origins go back long before audio recording was even a possibility.  One of the concepts I learned about was the business practice of black songs covered by white singers.  When a blues revival hit the charts in the 60s-70s few white artists gave credit to the original composers, most claimed the tune and lyrics for themselves.  Many talented people, whose songs were #1 hits made little, if no, money.

Despite the plagiarism, the blues singers, on their own bill, continued to change and grow, developing the sounds of centuries into something new, again, and again. As the country inched it’s way into the 1900s that moaning of the blues, country, and folk began to get played on the radio and enter into the mainstream of the American experience.  Contemporary artists added even more beats.  Taj Mahal called it the African Diaspora. He shares in his biography his parents “made him aware that all that was from the African Diaspora belonged to me. So I came in with Caribbean music, African music, Latin music, gospel music, and blues.”  Quincy Jones laments, “I only hope that one day, America will recognize what the rest of the world already has known, that our indigenous music – gospel, blues, jazz, and R&B – is the heart and soul of all popular music; and that we cannot afford to let this legacy slip into obscurity, I’m telling you.”

Each musician takes a sound and adds their own part.  So, in my car the other day, listening to a version of a song about a massive flood in the 1920s turned into, what I believe to be,  a sexually charged blues/rock tune sparked my memory of researching this very song six years ago for my radio program. So what do you think, did Led Zeplin keep the same spirit of the song or create something new?  It took many decades and intense social pressure from other artists for them to finally change the credits.  Did they pay tribute to the estates of Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie?  I don’t know.

Stay safe, wear a mask, and be kind to each other out there.  -Shannon

 


Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 · ‎Kansas Joe McCoy · ‎Memphis Minnie

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/when-kids-call-the-shots/201610/why-do-the-blues-feel-so-good

https://boosiesplayhouse.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/classic-60s-show-215/

https://www.loudersound.com/features/led-zeppelin-vs-memphis-minnie-when-the-levee-breaks

 

Day 17: New Normal

Yesterday I did not journal. After early coffee and breakfast, I hit the ground running with work, both at home, zooming, and on sites, and went grocery shopping.  When the day ended I watched some “Outlander” and went to bed early.

Out And About

Must admit, it was nice to get out and drive around my city.  It was the perfect day for a drive, a mild 50-something-sun-shinnin-blue-sky-day! I was curious about what new things I might encounter, you know…out there…in the outside world.  Getting onto the freeway, I rolled down all four windows and enjoyed rushing fresh air whipping around the inside of my car while listening to anything other than the news.  The 1st Wave channel works to break the mundane news trance if you’re interested.
-Although it was Wednesday, it looked like a Saturday.  Many folks in the neighborhoods were cutting their grass, washing their cars.
-Very light traffic, like what you might notice on a holiday, but, of course, with NO British Columbia plates due to the border closure.
-Many people riding bikes, folks walking their dogs and strolling babies.  Food drive-thrus still open.
-At Fred Meyer, I purchased 8 days worth of food—breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.  (Dang, it was expensive!)  There were small amounts of toilet paper available with signs to purchase no more than two packs of four.  It took me three attempts to retrieve coffee because the isle was too busy.  About 3/4 of the shoppers were wearing masks.
-Also, later, I noticed a white truck with a “Federal” seal driving around Happy Valley.  I’ve never seen that seal before and it caught my attention.  On the social website Nextdoor, a person took a photo of a Volvo that was video recording neighborhoods.  Are they looking for folks breaking the mandate? I wonder if the sightings are related? Curious.

1) an observed joy- Chatted with a neighbor I’ve never met while out for a walk.  We walked in the same direction on opposite sides of the road (plenty of space). We parted ways at an intersection and wished each other good health.

2) a real concern- Nothing new is being reported about airport screenings. I assume passengers are being screened, but, who knows. There appears to be little less airplane traffic these days.  To view every single airplane in the air this second, visit https://www.flightradar24.com/ 

3) a personal challenge- I need to find new ways to eat healthy for less.

4) one personal success (no matter how small)- I stretched for 30 minutes this morning.

5) a random thought (no matter how silly)- It’s so nice out this week.  This morning the air coming in my bedroom window reminded me of summers, when I was a kid, sleeping in our back yard.

Here is a pandemic meme that expresses how I felt yesterday going out to do errands.  Stay safe, stay healthy, stay happy. -Shannon

Event: Honeymoon Open Mic

You’re invited to the event of a lifetime…

Tuesday, June 19 at 8:30 PM – 10 PM

at the Honeymoon,  1053 N State St, Bellingham WA

Encore performance! Poet Shannon Laws hosts a Honeymoon poetry OPEN MIC followed by her “You Love Me, You Love Me Not” beat poetry program accompanied by stand up bassist, Greg Sherman. Shannon’s fresh sense of humor and quietly erotic poetry highlights the joys and aggravations of mid-life singlehood in this collection of love and love maybe poems. Sure to make you go “LOL” and “OOoooOoo”, a fun night for all.

Sign up at Shannon’s Facebook page or in person at the Honeymoon for a slot to read your own love/not love poetry.

If you missed her debut performance of the set in February you got another chance to catch this unique poetry presentation.   Books will be on hand to purchase.

“Shannon Laws’ poems are ventures, many journeys of the mind and imagination… They also probe the mysteries of the human condition, posing elemental issues: love and death and loss, the aching solitariness of human experience, the straining for meaning, clarity and confirmation, the yearning for contact and connection, and the guises humans adopt in the consequent interchange.”
—Ron Leatherbarrow, Professor of Literature, Whatcom Community College

Shannon Laws with her writing hat on. “But the visor is down!” “You don’t need to see to use the force”

 

 

Writer’s Shout Out

renapriest
Rena Priest hanging out, being awesome

Earlier this month Rena Priest, a poet, writer, producer and community activist, interviewed me for her new radio program “Writer’s Shout Out”. Her one-hour interview program takes a look at the life of a writer and the things that inspire them.
This program aired on the non-profit, community station KZAX-LP FM 94.9 last week.
It was a fun time!

Thank you, Rena, for the copy to share.

 

Event: 2016 Read-In for Peace

You’re invited~

World Peace Poets’ Fourth Annual
Read-In! Write-On!

 

2016 poetsforpeace 8x11 poster
Poster by Shannon Laws

READ-IN FOR WORLD PEACE
World Peace Poets’ Fourth Annual Read-In! Write-On!
Saturday, September 24, 2015, Doors Open at 5:00 PM

This is a FREE and public event with special musical guests. A light supper will be served at 5:30 along with coffee & tea.

Readers sign-up: Anyone who would like to present 5 minutes on sharing their definition of peace is welcome to sign up now, until all slots are filled, at worldpeacepoets@gmail.com and an approximate time will be assigned to each one, or you can request one.

For more information, or to sign up to read or perform, contact
Carla at: worldpeacepoets at gmail.com

Participants in the 2016 and 2015 World Peace Poet Read-In will be eligible to submit original work for Volume Two of the “Peace Poems” book, to release in 2017!

If you didn’t get the 2013-2014 Vol I edition you can pick up a copy on Amazon by visiting this site:

Ends when the last poet speaks! 

Hosts: Carla Shafer, C.J. Prince, Carol McMillan, Betty Scott and Shannon Laws

Poem / Song: When We Gather

baltimore Reuters Jim Bourg
Photo credit: Baltimore, Reuters / Jim Bourg, April 2015 Protesters form a line in the streets of Baltimore

 

There’s a revolution

flowing through us

when we gather

it is screaming

to be free

 

 

There’s a revelation

flowing through us

when we gather

it is screaming

to be free

-SPL

Tensions In Baltimore Continue To Simmer After Days Of Riots And Protests Over Death Of Freddie Gray
Peaceful Protest Photo credit WGNO / Baltimore April 2015

standing
Photo credit: Baltimore Sun / Colin Campbell, @cmcampbell6

 

More information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Freddie_Gray

 

#

International Peace Poets

The Bellingham Poets for Peace Read-In! Write-On! Event is pleased to announce the confirmed international speakers:

Candice James,Duke Ashrafuzzaman, Bernice Lever, Max Tell
Bong Ja Ahn, Lilija Valis, Janet Kvammen, 
Farina Reinprecht, and Una Brauhns.

Referring to this collaboration of Canadian poets and American,
Farina said it best, “We are a team” 

***


Good Egg

Seattle, 1987 an old stone church somewhere around Capitol Hill: I woke up. 
My first job out of high school I worked as a freelance television production field assistant for David, a producer who had, what was called, “an account” with CNN.  David had a working relationship with the network to provide feature stories from the Northwest corridor that included Northwest Oregon, Washington and Alaska.  It was one of the most life changing jobs I ever held.  One experience I had in the field has recently resurfaced in my thoughts.  It has made me consider the heavy responsibility writers, communicators, reporters and producers have to the public.
Me and the Bates Quad Tape Machines,
possibly cueing up some Paul Anka
KBTC TV, Tacoma
I first met David in the hallway at my school, L.H. Bates Technical located in downtown Tacoma on Yakima Street.    David was looking for an assistant, gave me his card, I took the job.  It was brilliant on-the-job training while I finished up my degree.
David had a small upstairs office off Broadway, above a restaurant called “The Good Egg”, just a block or so down from the QFC Grocery.  Nothing glamorous, as you may think.  It was a lonely gray room, bare walls and the only office furniture was shelves that held the tape library, two desks and two chairs.  One desk had a ¾ inch tape editing system on it, the other had stacks of papers and the only good chair. When I was called in for a shoot, THIS was headquarters.  Running downtown 20 minutes from my home in south Seattle, I never had a place to sit.  That was fine because I never was there for more than a half hour at a time.  Headquarters to me was the place to load up the car for a shoot with boxes of tapes, batteries, the lighting kit and mics, nothing more.
One half of a Sony 3/4 inch editor
One day I was called in to do errands.  When I arrived David was reading a newspaper, from a stack at least a foot thick.  He gave me a list of places to purchase new tape stock, ship some things out, and an order for lunch and mochas.  When I returned, he was more than half way through the pile, as he gleamed each page for future features he wanted to cover. 
“This is how it starts,” he told me, “research.”  His job seemed boring and tedious.
Many of the stories we covered were moving,  but none more than the musician   It was one of my first assignments.  A standard shoot: interview and B-roll.  Usually, I did not know what we were shooting until the drive over.  This evening David was covering a local musician who was performing at an old church.  
The musician was a singer, songwriter, guitarist, who, I was shocked to discover, also in a wheelchair!   He was a little person with a malformed spine that kept him from walking.  Despite his height and limited mobility, his arms and shoulders allowed him to play a guitar with ease.  (I have tried unsuccessfully to find him online, so my apologies that I cannot credit his name for this article.)  His message was an inspiring one.  The doctors told his parents he wouldn’t live more than ten years, yet here he was in his mid-thirties.  His band traveled around sharing original music with hopes to encourage, enlighten, and increase social awareness about the handicap.      
Host/Producer Denny, me (grip/assistant)
and a new cameraman
Ketchikan, Alaska
My main job during an interview was to monitor the audio. Once everything was set up, David sat down with the guest and the two started to talk.  I sat there, in the shadows as it were, large headphones over my ears, listening to the audio, adjusting it as needed.  Then I started to not just listen, but to HEAR and understand.  The musician’s voice, with its rich warm tones, flowed directly into my ears, brain and heart.  With eyes closed I could not hear his disability, only his spirit!  Memory, however, is a strange beast.  I cannot remember one word he said!  I DO remember feeling moved to tears by his story.  Those words, not words spoken, but the spirit in which they were expressed, moved me.  It seemed like for the first time in my life I was standing before a true warrior; a man who fought real battles every day.  Yet instead of being bitter and angry about his handicap he simply celebrated life, seemed thankful for every breath. Thankful for his family, his music, his life!  My impression of the physically handicapped changed from fear and uncertainty, to the realization that a full spirit lives inside the shell we call “Body”, a full complete person, despite any disfigurements, limps, or mutations of the flesh. 
I understood why David found his job so exciting.  Why he searched the newspapers for remarkable stories.  These were voices that needed to be shared with everyone.  He was a good egg.  
~   ~   ~
I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death. 
~Leonardo da Vinci

Song: I Love

My mom came up for a visit today.  Mom and I both share the gift of gab.  We chatted all through breakfast and during coffee, while doing a project around my home, and had a nice chat over a glass of water.  We touched on many subjects.  Somehow we started to talk about the old days of family vacations, road trips, camping out an
d the songs she and my aunt taught my cousins and I. To help quicken the time getting from point A to point B we would sing songs in the car.  Did you do this?  Do you remember the songs you use to sing?

I love little baby ducks…

Mom and I tried to remember all the songs and made a list: Oh Susanna, Clementine, Found a Peanut, 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, I Know an Old Lady, You are My Sunshine, Oh You Can’t Get to Heaven.  Then mom said, “You know we sang many old folk songs when you were little, but one I always liked was “I Love” by Tom T Hall.”  That did not sound familiar to me.  However, music holds memory, and triggers emotional like few things can.  As soon as she started to hum a few bars of that song, I was 11 and we were at the beach sitting around a campfire.  That song transported me back many years to a wonderful time in my life!

Later I looked up the lyrics to “I Love” and just had to share it with you.  Please look up the song online and listen to it.  It’s a sweet one.

I LOVE

I love little baby ducks,
Old pick-up trucks,
Slow movin’ trains, and rain.
I love little country streams,
Sleep without dreams,
Sunday school in May, and hay.
And I love you too.
I love leaves in the wind,
Pictures of my friends,
Birds of the world, and squirrels.
I love coffee in a cup,
Little fuzzy pups,
Bourbon in a glass, and grass.
And I love you too.
I love honest open smiles,
Kisses from a child,
Tomatoes on a vine, and onions.
I love winners when they cry,
Losers when they try,
Music when it’s good, and life.
And I love you too.
Tom T Hall

Poetry: Guitar Man

Guitar Man
Taps his foot to the music
Frayed boot heel wiggles against the floor
Fingers, as comfortable on frets
As his legs are in jeans
What does he sing?
What is that sound?
History weeping through
Oozing out of dry crevasses
Days in the sun created
Poems written on wrinkled paper
Songs sung to walls of fallen plaster
Large women clap approval
Hoping to take a piece home
Frequency broadcasted to a crowd
Listening ears, watchful eyes
Curtains moving with the fan
Breeze blowing in the street noise
His howling is overruled
Painting by Hyatt Moore