I've read that in pre-alphabetic times and cultures, the use of rhyme, rhythm and repetition was an essential aid to memory without which poets and storytellers could not have remembered the incredibly long chronicles and sagas that were the culture's treasured legacy and could only be transmitted orally to following generations.
I find that the process of writing narrative this way sets up a vital tension between limitation and abandon. The demands of the language and the form lead to surprises. I started writing this way during the run of Death of a Salesman. A couple of Willy's lines were going around and around in my mind because of their rhythm and I started writing a rap. Over a year later, I'm stlll at it.
I've just uploaded seven of my completed recordings (including those below) on a site called Last.FM. Since they asked me for a name for my "album" I called it: Moving the Air Around. I explain why on Last.fm. You can listen to the tracks, download them, "love" them, "digg" them, "ban" them, or rate them.
Thinking about the Rosenbergs: Ethel in Flames
I realize that there are a couple of generations out there now whose members may not know the story of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg which is why I wrote and recorded the piece above. The Rosenbergs were the only people that have been executed by the United States Governement for alleged acts of espionage. It happened in 1953 when I was eight, about the same age as the two sons Julius and Ethel left.
Tony Kushner brilliantly and lovingly created a theatrical version of Ethel in his masterpiece, Angels in America.
Like so much of America's hidden history, this story carries a powerful energy and must be told, along with countless others, if we are to have any chance of reconciling the reality and the dream of these United States. Since the release of Kruschev's cold war diaries, there has been endless debate about the "guilt or innocence" of the couple. But the story of their execution and the chilling message it was meant to convey to American dissidents is incontestable.
Bobby Z is an homage to Bob Dylan. For the first time in this series of experiments, I took my neglected Martin D-28 out of its case and laid down two guitar tracks instead of using digital percussion for back-up. This one's all me.
This video verson is my first try at digital video editing.
Z you bring me
The piece below, Nakhman's Method, began one day when I was riding my bicycle and the line "when I become a stranger to myself" popped into my mind. I thought it was going to be the start of a song, but as more words began to flow, rhythm, rather than melody, grabbed my attention.so I played with this stuff about prayer that was coming up. I had no idea Rebbe Nakhman of Bratslav would turn up in the middle, but I'd been thinking a lot about prayer and the dilemma of reclaiming a relationship with the sacred in a time of violent polarization, or as I say in the piece, "It's hard to break through the taboo / against talkin' to God when you're a secular Jew." Enjoy.
Nakhman's Method (rough mix)
When I become a stranger to myself,
When I’m lost, double-crossed by my thoughts
No one to talk to
Still I need to speak my heart
Suppose I should pray
But it’s hard to get started
hard to break through the taboo
against talking to God
when you’re a secular Jew.
But what can you do
when there’s no one to blame
yet the same pain remains
to shatter yr sleep –
Perhaps it requires a leap into uncontrolled speech
Now, I remember that there
Was a rabbi in the Ukraine – late eighteenth century
known for his depressions and his flights of ecstasy
Nakhman of Bratslav was a big
never stopped hockin’ his chinik
Hockin his chinik
Tried to curb his brooding,
his bouts of flat-out lunacy
by shouting out his misery, annoyance, joy and grief
as he emptied his biography into the ear of God
But a Tzaddik’s job description takes in more than caring
for his own condition
Like the Bodhisattva vows to live among the noisy crowds
in marketplace and battlefield
until all sentient beings
the Tzaddik too must live with death
uncertainty impermanence while lifting his community to unity proximity with all that’s called divinity.
Nakhman’s method was
to teach his followers to reach deep inside and touch
what pressed ‘em down and let it body forth as sound and wwwwoorrrrrds
If you need to cry, he said, then cry. Let every sob and sigh will
water the roots of
the tree of life that grows inside you
you will climb its trunk to the highest heights you will rise
you will rise
you will rise
you will fall
embrace it all
it’s a dream, it’s a story, it’s a passing show
embrace it all and let it all go.
Oh? Oh. Ah. Ahh. Yeah, I uh...
I speak my heart to the empty air
send a postcard to God: Wish You were here
I don’t care if I believe in God or not anymore
I’ve been relieved of that impossible chore
I just want to be
I just want to be with the one
I just want to be with the one who is
or will be will be will be be be because
the calling is the answer
the answer is the calling
the answer is a dance into larger circumstance
all you really have to do is sing a song of praise to every molecule in you
Let your song become a joyful sound
Tzaddik: in Hasidic tradition, a spiritual leader, a holy person.
Bodhisattva: in Buddhism, an enlightened person who vows to lead all sentient beings to enlightenment
just sh the "play" button for a taste of a form that
all material © corey fischer 2008
Gussie and Sam
written by Corey