Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's BĂȘte Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Dance party in the kitchen after dinner tonight, to this ablum by Veda Hille's kid-friendly family band Duplex. Catchy lively charming goofy friendly tender songs, including a tender lovely cover of "Figure 8" from Schoolhouse Rock. We saw Duplex at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival last July. After the set my beloved spouse asked Veda (of whom my spouse and I have been ardent fans for many years) if she would pose for a photo with our son. Veda gathered half of the band together and posed.

* * *

Listening more to Andy Griffith's Christmas album, which I posted on a while ago. In addition to the heart-rending stories I posted on, I'm digging the unusual song selection -- some old faves, like Silent Night and Joy to the World; and then some darker awe-filled less ubiquitous standards, like O Come O Come Emmanuel and I Wonder As I Wander; and then, most strange and wonderful, a couple non-Christmas Christian hymns, one I remember from my button-down mainstream white Protestant church growing up, Beautiful Savior, and a gospel tune I didn't know, Jesus Walked That Lonesome Valley. At the end of Away In A Manger he tags on a non-Christmas, non-Christian lullabye from the Elizabethan era, Golden Slumber, some of the lyrics (but not the music) of which the Beatles lifted on Abbey Road. A deeply passionate, awe-struck record; not without humor, suffused with tenderness and love. Andy's reading of Luke's telling of the Christmas story -- when he raises his voice to quote the multitudes of the heavenly host appearing before the shepherds, "glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward all mankind," it's thrilling.

* * *

I mentioned the other night my belief that Christmas is a Festival of Excess Capacity, forgetting to mention that the ideology/imagery our society entails it with -- family, cheeriness, and nonstop shopping -- depresses the hell out of a lot of people. I never forget the trio of classic Christmas suicide-attempt movies -- It's a Wonderful Life, Meet John Doe, and The Apartment.

Life is inexplicable and awesome, and it can be damned hard, compounded by human cruelty and thoughtlessness. I know I'm guilty. My heart goes out.

* * *

In the great night my heart will go out.
Toward me the darkness comes rattling.
That's a healing song by Juana Manwell, a/k/a Owl Woman, taught to her in a dream by a friend who had recently died, and recorded and translated from the Papago Indian language by the great white ethnographer Frances Densmore in 1920. Along the way white anthologists of Indian poetry started calling the song "Death Song," but a reading of Densmore's original publication, which I found in a library once, shows that it was a healing song.

Tonight it also feels like a Christmas song, which, on some spiritual plane, Andy Griffith would understand.
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