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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.

click here to vist Last.FM


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.

 

 

 

 

Audio only:

 Bobby Z

Bobby Z you bring me
back to 1962
First time I heard you
coming through
The hi fi with the voice
a voice so harsh and true
the voice of a great blue
heron

I was seventeen and I couldn’t believe
What I was hearing
I was suddenly released.
Though I didn’t know that I’d never been free
before

I’d heard the blues
Blind lemon leadbelly lightnin’ mississippi blind gary bukka white
Scratchy folkways lp’s playin through the night
Scratchy vinyl records “LP”s
planted a new soul deep inside a me
a soul that didn’t fit into
US Grade A Approved reality

But you – another white boy Jew
knew how to hold the squirming fish of truth that lived inside the blues
Your voice like the smell of a pine tree in the rain
like the moonlit moan ………..of a of a of a passing train
we had nothin to lose and the whole world to gain

It was as simple as knowing I was not alone
As long as your voice could howl in my bones
Confusion and longing and fear might be shared
The American road unrolled right there
In your harmonica Woody and Kerouak
Whitman and Blake were all coming back
I followed the shape of your footsteps
Away from classroom and parents
To Spain and North Africa with my guitar
No distance seemed to stretch as far
As I needed it to
It rained all through Italy
Stood by the highway soaked through
Italy hitchhiking to France

in a Paris flat I heard you I was sleeping on the floor
with ten other vagabonds who’d sheltered from the storm
some said that electricity had ruined you for good
Others welcomed increased power but neither side really understood
The restless alchemy that drove you from rock and roll to Jesus to
The holy land to Hollywood

How’s if feel now Bobby Z?
The hard rain still fallin like tears from cloud mothers’ eyes
You wearing glasses now I don’t hear so well these days
But these visions you conjured sure go a long long way

You showed how language could surround the mystery
Like the rabbis said each sentence has a melody
And meaning finds itself in its rise and fall
And In the silence between the hunger and the call
back to top


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 all my wealth has turned to dross

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

bi-polar Tzaddik

never stopped hockin’ his chinik 

Never stopped

Never stopped

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  

realize enlightenment

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

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 isn’t

wasn’t

was

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

outside you

around you

Let your song become a joyful sound

in progress:
Hockin his chinik: literally, "beating [his] teapot" usage: talking too much, going on and on.

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

 

 

new videos

Gussie and Sam
by Naomi Newman
performed by Naomi and Corey

 

You Were Great

written by Corey

directed by
Ben Galland,
with  
Michael Navarra

and Corey

 

 

 

click here if you'd like to find out more about working with corey