Sure on This Shining Night | John Anstie

“Sure on This Shining Night” is a poem written in the 1930’s by James Agee. All Poetry says the following of James Agee and shines a light on the impact of the Great Depression and perhaps on the unsustainable effects on human dignity of the unfettered and unsustainable human quest for profit and power: The poet, James Agee (1909-1955), was also a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He was the author of “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men”, an eloquent and anguished testimony about the essential human dignity of impoverished sharecroppers during the 1930s. The book is regarded as one of the most significant literary documents associated with the Great Depression.

Sharecroppers were tenant farmers, who, as a result of the economic maelstrom of the 1930’s depression, could no longer pay their rent. Their landlords allowed them to continue growing their crops on the land, take what they needed for themselves and give the rest to the landlord in lieu of their rent. How hard would that have been, both physically and psychologically, particularly in view of the vagaries of the weather and seasons. 

So evocative are the words of this brief poem, that it has been set to music by several composers, notably Morton Lauridsen and Samuel Barber, but none, in my opinion is quite so beautiful and moving an arrangement as this one for double choir (or double quartet) by Jay Giallombardo. Jay is primarily a notable arranger for close harmony ensembles of the Barbershop genre. I also say this with no uncertain bias, because this same arrangement is currently being rehearsed and in the process of entering the repertoire of my own chorus (Hallmark of Harmony), which has given me much impetus to do a little more research behind the poem and its writer.

—John Anstie

Sure on This Shining Night

Sure on this shining night
Of star made shadows round,
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground. 
The late year lies down the north.
All is healed, all is health.
High summer holds the earth. 
Hearts all whole.
Sure on this shining night I weep for wonder 
wand'ring far alone
Of shadows on the stars.
The poem, "Sure on This Shining Night", by James Agee,
first appears in 1934 in his book entitled "Permit me Voyage"
(© by the owner and referenced here).

Here it is sung very powerfully by the Westminster Chorus . . .

“Sure on this Shining Night” Arr. Jay Giallombardo.

Poem ©1934 James Agee
Introduction @2023 John Anstie
All rights reserved




Whitman & Symphonic Metal | Michael Dickel

Nightwish, a “symphonic metal” band with gothic influences from Finland, presents in its homage to Whitman, Song of Myself (Imaginaerum track #12), a surprisingly complex poetics as it moves through strong emotions while addressing both personal struggles and social issues—for peace, for social justice, for hope and love—against hypocrisy, against indifference, against hopelessness. The dense music incorporates symphonic, opera, and gothic metal influences. There is an allusion to William Wadsworth in the lyrics, but the title itself, of course, alludes to Walt Whitman’s poem of the same name, and Whitman is mentioned directly in the lyrics:

          She dreams of storytime and the river ghosts
          Of mermaids, of Whitman’s and the Ride
          Raving harlequins…

                    —Lyrics from Nightwish website


The possessive of “Whitman” grammatically suggests “Whitman’s harlequins,” who are also “Ride/ Raving harlequins.” It could be understood to suggest “Whitman’s Ride,” by ignoring the “and,” a possible skipping reference to his poem as a “ride.” The harlequins reading, however, offers an additional reference, to “Last Ride of the Day,” another song on the same album (track #11), which has this stanza:

          Once upon a night we’ll wake to the carnival of life
          The beauty of this ride ahead such an incredible high
          It’s hard to light a candle, easy to curse the dark instead
          This moment the dawn of humanity
          The last ride of the day

                    —(Lyrics from Nightwish website)

And goes on near the end of the song, to optimistically call a “Dead Boy” to wake up to life’s adventures, where, curiously:

          …Tricksters, magicians will show you all that’s real
          Careless jugglers, snakecharmers by your trail

                    —(Lyrics from Nightwish website)

“Tricksters, magicians…Careless jugglers, snakecharmers…” all suggest a circus, and indirectly allude to harlequins. And the carnivalesque imagery suggests a modern rave event, its own kind of circus. “Whitman’s harlequins” also allows for a connection to Whitman’s approval of clowns, as cited in a New York Times article, “The Civil War’s Most Famous Clown”:

          Reviewing a circus in 1856 in Brooklyn, [Whitman] wrote:
          “It can do no harm to boys to see a set of limbs display
          all their agility.” (In a favorite mind-plus-body theme,
          Whitman added: “A circus performer is the other half
          of a college professor. The perfect Man has more
          than the professor’s brain, and a good deal of
          the performer’s legs.”) Meanwhile, fights were
          a daily occurrence [at circuses], drawing attention
          the way fights at soccer matches do now.

Although that particular connection might well be coincidental rather than intentional, it is an interesting dimension to consider in relation to the 21st symphonic-metal song. Whether or not a coincidence, the optimism of “The Last Ride of the Day” and the “careless jugglers, snakecharmers” of “carnival life” do echo Whitman’s optimism for America and its crazy-quilt society in his “Song of Myself,” which opens the poem:

          I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
          And what I assume you shall assume,
          For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

                     —Poetry Foundation, 1892 version



Nightwish’s “Song of Myself” acknowledges, as Whitman’s poem does, that the injustices of the world weigh on us, yet at the same time, also as Whitman’s poem, the song cries out that life, hope, and love require poetry and music. Whitman mentions the weight of the world in the 4th section of the poem:

          The sickness of one of my folks or of myself, or ill-doing
               or loss or lack of money, or depressions or exaltations,
          Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of

               doubtful news, the fitful events;
          These come to me days and nights and go from me again,
          But they are not the Me myself.

                     —Poetry Foundation, 1892 version

While, Nightwish’s “Song of Myself” catalogs many of the personal and social injustices throughout the song, in the last two lines of the 21st C. song the poetry says that the music of life moves from the major key of G (reasonably happy) to its sad relative, E-minor, a scale with the same notes, but shifting to being with E rather than G in progression—

Still given everything, may I be deserving
and there forever remains that change from G to E-minor.

—both Whitman and Nightwish present this sadness as part—but not all—of the great fullness of life. May we learn to see “all that is real.”


©2023 Michael Dickel
All rights reserved




Promise, Peace, Civilians | Robert Priest

The promise of peace

If I could just be the water
When peace is cracked and dry
If I could be a shelt’ring place
When peace is cast aside
Even when my table’s full
And I sit before the feast
May i always keep a place in my heart
For the promise of peace

If I could just be a feather
When peace is try,n to fly
If I could be a single step
When peace needs to climb high
Even when I’m locked in doubt
And I fear there’s no release   
May i always keep a place in my heart
For the promise of peace

O we must be the sunshine
When peace is lost and dark
And we must be the bread of love
When peace is cold and starved
Even in the threat of war
Though hopes shall fade or cease
May we always keep a place in our hearts
For the promise of peace

If i can be the smallest breeze
When peace is stalled at sea
If I must lay my anger down
Then let me take a knee
If i love this tired earth
And its child, humanity

May i always keep a place in my heart
For the promise of peace
May i always keep a place in my heart
For the promise of peace
Listen to The Promise of Peace
Song: Priest / Capek

Peace Be Upon You

Peace be upon you and under your feet
Peace be before you like the wind before the wheat
A peace of many pieces is a peace so sweet

Peace be upon you and peace be below
Peace upon the mountains and the fields of snow
Peace upon the people living in the street 
It’s a peace of many pieces - let it be complete

Your peace and my peace they fit together
Your peace and my peace should get together
Your peace and my peace

Peace be upon you compassionate peace
Peace upon the anguished and the so called 'least'
Peace upon the children and the birds and beasts 
It’s a piece of many pieces - let it be complete

Your peace and my peace they fit together
Your peace and my peace should get together
Your peace and... not a friend is missing from the table
Not a child is missing from the play
Everyone everywhere is part of it 
That’s at the heart of it

Peace be upon you and peace be below
Peace upon the mountains and the fields of snow
Peace upon the people living in the street 
It’s a peace of many pieces let it be complete
Your peace and my peace they’re good together
Your peace and my peace should get together 
your peace and my peace
Let it be complete
Listen to Peace Be Upon You
Song: Priest / Booth
Produced by Peter Lafferty

| G / / / | C / / / | G / / / | C / / / | G / / / |
peace be upon you and under your feet
| C / / / | 
peace be before you like the wind before the wheat
| Em / D / | C / / / | 
a peace of many pieces it’s a peace so sweet
| G / / / | 
peace be upon you and peace be below
| C / / / | 
peace upon the mountains and the fields of snow
| Em / D / |
peace upon the people living in the street. It’s a
| C / G / | F / C / |
peace of many pieces let it be complete
| D / / / | Em / C / |
your peace and my peace they fit together
| D / / / | Em / C / |
your peace and my peace should get together
| D / F / | C / / / |
your peace and my peace
| G / / / | C / / / | G / / / | C / / / |
Na na na na na na na na na na na  Na na na na na na na na na na na
| G / / / |
peace be upon you compassionate peace
| C / / / |
peace upon the anguished and the so called 'least'
| Em / D / | 
peace upon the children and the birds and beasts. It’s a
| C / G / | F / C / |
a piece of many pieces let it be complete.]
| D / / / | Em / C / |
your peace and my peace they fit together
| D / / / | Em / C / |
your peace and my peace should get together
| D / F / | 
your peace and 
| Am / G / | C / / / |
not a friend is missing from the table
| Am / G / | C / / / |
not a child is missing from the play
| F / C / | G / / / | F / C / |
everyone everywhere is part of it. That’s at the heart of it
| G / / / | C / / / | G / / / | C / / / |
Na na na na na na na na na na na  Na na na na na na na na na na na
| G / / / | 
peace be upon you and peace be below
| C / / / | 
peace upon the mountains and the fields of snow
| Em / D / |
peace upon the people living in the street. It’s a
| C / G / | F / C / |
it’s a peace of many pieces let it be complete
| D / / / | Em / C / |
your peace and my peace they’re good together
| D / / / | Em / C / |
your peace and my peace should get together
| D / F / | C / / / |
 your peace and my peace

Ten Civilians

When I see that list of names upon that long black wall 
So many fallen in their prime it's hard to count them all 
Oh yes the soldiers die they fall in all their millions 
But for every one of them that dies say goodbye to 

Ten civilians - fathers and mothers
Ten civilians - sisters and brothers
Ten babies being born 
Ten lifetimes of tears for those who are left to mourn

When I see that line of monuments roll on out of sight 
So many names engraved in stone but something's not quite right 
Oh yes the soldiers died they stained the ground vermilion 
But for every one of them that fell ring the bell for

Ten civilians - dreamers and lovers
Ten civilians - grandfathers grandmothers
Ten children and their teacher too
They won't be coming home no matter what we do

No their names will not be written on that long black wall
And on the TV news they’re hardly there at all 
It's hard to think of them who knows how many millions 
So for every warrior who dies I multiply
By ten civilians - fathers and mothers
Ten civilians - sisters and brothers
Ten nurses and a doctor too
They won't be coming home no matter what we do

When I see that list of names upon that long black wall
Listen to Ten Civilians
Song: Priest / Booth
Produced by Bob Wiseman

Lyrics and Performances ©2022 Robert Priest
All rights reserved


Robert Priest…

…is literary poet in the tradition of Neruda and Mayakovsky, a composer of lush love poems, a singer-songwriter, a widely quoted aphorist, a children’s poet and novelist. He is a mainstay of the literary/spoken word/music circuit both in Canada and abroad. His words have been quoted in the Farmer’s Almanac, debated in the Ontario Legislature, sung on Sesame Street, posted in Toronto’s transit system, broadcast on MuchMusic, released on numerous CDs, quoted by politicians, and widely published in textbooks and anthologies.



Earth Song | VOCES8

Earth Song

In light of the theme of this edition of The BeZine, I can’t help feeling this beautiful song rising to the surface again. Sung by the peerless octet, Voces8, it is Frank Ticheli’s timeless composition ‘Earth Song’. The lyrics fit so well with the theme… “Sing, Be, Live, See…Peace”

—John Anstie, Associate Editor

“Earth Song” by Frank Ticheli
Performed by VOCES8
Sing, Be, Live, See.
This dark stormy hour,
The wind, it stirs.
The scorched earth
cries out in vain:
O war and power,
You blind and blur,
The torn heart
cries out in pain.
But music and singing
Have been my refuge,
And music and singing
Shall be my light.
A lightof song
Shining Strong: Allelulia!
Through darkness, pain, and strife, I'll
Sing, Be, Live, See...
Peace.

Earth Song ©2007 Frank Ticheli
Performance ©2020 VOCES8
All rights reserved



Ukraine’s Cultural Traditions…under threat | John Anstie

Can you imagine being forced to give up all your participation and activity in poetry, storytelling, music, art and oral histories; even your connections and hence enjoyment of these forms of culture … by the imposition of an external aggressive, authoritarian and violent regime? A regime that will insist on imposing their own strict values, that could barely be described as cultural? Gone from your life. For a long time, possibly for the rest of your life. 

Are we about to see these very same inhuman restrictions being imposed again? Restrictions that the old Soviet regime stamped out for seventy years in all those Eastern European countries that were freed by the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1989. 

The Ukraine, a country that voted clearly and decisively for its own sovereignty within two years of the break up of the old Soviet Union, is now the object of an invasion that was clearly planned strategy, which is an unmitigated disaster. When, in 2014, the Russians moved their armed forces into and claimed that part of Ukraine, Crimea, which has always been a strategically important peninsula, a southern bridgehead, it was clear that this was a part of that strategy, which has been on the cards of a dictatorial leadership. They are now bombing, shelling and attacking what is effectively an independent, democratic European country on three fronts and it is clear that they will stop at nothing to get their way, even to the extent of threatening Europe as a whole.

Several years ago, I attended a workshop run by one of the top Georgian Male a cappella choirs, who were touring the UK. At some point in the evening we learned that, during the seventy years of Soviet dominance, their art of story telling through their folk and cultural traditions was not allowed by the authorities. Only through clandestine meetings, at risk of banishment, did they manage to keep their songs and their stories alive and it took several years after the break up of thee Soviet Union, to get back to the level of performance they and now we can enjoy.

Just as Georgia kept their stories alive through song, dance and oral history, so too does the Ukraine. Miklos Both founded the Polyphony Project, for which, over a period of four years, he travelled around Ukraine, to visit 100 villages. He managed to record over 2,000 songs for which he has created a digital archive. This represents such an important piece of work.

For anyone in any country, oral histories, whether spoken, sung or danced, as well as their visual art, are an absolutely vital part of preserving the truth of a culture, a country or a system of believe, as they come from the mouths and minds of those people who are the culture, who are the stories, who are their histories unabridged by those despotic dictatorships and empire builders, who would erase what doesn’t fit with their own version of the truth.

May I invite you to watch this brief five minute example of how this can be done …

©2019 Atlas Obscura

In my searches I also found this popular Ukrainian band playing an NPR Tiny Desk concert back in 2015. Their sound, their voicing and infectious rhythms and performance are joyous and very uplifting. Their vocal sound is particularly poignant and very characteristic of those regions of Eastern Europe …

©2015 NPR

You’ve got to love the hats!


©2022 John Anstie
All rights reserved


A Song for Peace | Sting

Sting has brought back a song he wrote many years ago, but put away because he thought it was no longer relevant … how wrong we can be! The culture of protest is alive and well!

—John Anstie

©2022 Sting

Soldiers in the Army of Mercy & Peace | Joe Kidd & Sheila Burke

We ran through the back door in the middle of the night
Didn't know what we ran for through the snow and the ice
Headed straight for the border, just to keep warm
Trying to find our mother, in the middle of the storm

We entered the city just before dawn
Singing ‘isn't it a pity,' something was wrong
Said a prayer in the corner of a room filled with mirrors
a young girl gave a warning, she said “don't interfere”
No time for hesitation, to say the least
We are soldiers in the army of mercy and peace

We fell into a circle of imaginary friends
In line for a morsel, forgiveness of sins
Looked up from the tower as the clock struck twelve
on the evening of power, St. Mary’s bells

We are gathered at the table, we stand before the throne
We kneel at the altar on the battlefield alone
We will sing this song in harmony
And our numbers will increase
We are soldiers in the army of mercy and peace

We cry when we are happy, we smile when we’re in pain
We will all march together in the pouring poison rain
We are one in a million and a million to one
Are the odds in our favor to make sure this work is done

No more weapons of destruction
No more guns designed to kill
No more rules of mass instruction that annihilate free will
We will raise our hands in freedom and our love will never cease
We are soldiers in the army of mercy and peace

We survive in a holocaust of treachery and deceit
We will fight no matter what the cost, we will not accept defeat
We are held in a higher hand, held to a higher truth
Called to be a chosen man, no matter what we do

There's a light behind this curtain, there's a voice that calls our name
There's a future that is certain, breaking free from rusted chains
Now we drink from a common well, and our prayers have been received
We are soldiers in the army of mercy and peace
We are soldiers in the army of mercy and peace

Joe Kidd & Sheila Burke sing Soldiers in the Army of Mercy & Peace


©2015 Joe Kidd
All rights reserved

The Children They Will Rise | Nandi & Roman

Nandi Bushell & Roman Morello, two children, wrote and performed this. With a little help from proud others.

More information about how this came to be made.

One Human Family, Food for All

Chosen by Corina Ravenscraft


©2021 EALLIN (http://www.Eallin.com) for Caritas Internationalis
All rights reserved

God Save the Hungry…

Grace Petrie from her album ‘There’s No Such Thing as a Protest Singer’, expressing a youthful and ever valid point of view. —John Anstie


©2016 Grace Petrie
All rights reserved

We Will Always Need A Bridge …

Since this iconic song was written and introduced to the world by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel on their album of the same name, which received the award of Album of the Year in 1971, I cannot think of any point during the fifty years that followed, when it wasn’t making an important contribution to our feelings of wellbeing and solace. Goodness me, what a life this song has had and what service it has done!

My own chorus, the Sheffield based Hallmark of Harmony have, like many musical ensembles, endured this last year of lockdown doing ‘virtual’ rehearsals and occasional recorded performances. Last month, as if tentatively to begin celebrating the gradual lifting of our confinement, we produced our fourth on line project and there was no other song we could choose to represent what we all need in these times than this one. Something that we all need sometimes to get us across troubled waters. We first performed this song nearly three years ago at our 40th anniversary concert at the Sheffield Octagon Theatre with guest quartet, international champions, Instant Classic, who flew across the Atlantic for the weekend of the show to perform it with us. They generously reprised their part for this our, hopefully final virtual offering to the World and of course our very own Tim Briggs consummately provides the solo …

For the sake of humanity, may there always be a bridge for us to cross over and, for goodness sake, let there be peace in this troubled world of ours.


Text ©2021 John Anstie
Performance ©2021 Hallmark of Harmony
All rights reserved


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John Anstie
June 2021

The Blue Bird — Tenebrae Choir

This piece of music is quite magical.  I have sung this song in recent times in concert with the chamber choir, Fox Valley Voices. It is the best known of Charles Villiers Stanford’s two sets of eight partsongs.  Musically it is ethereal and a joy to sing.  The lyrics were written by novelist and poet, Mary Elizabeth Coleridge. She was the great-grandniece of the well known 18th century poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (“The Rime of The Ancient Mariner”) and daughter of Arthur Duke Coleridge with singer, Jenny Lind.  Her father was credited with the formation of the London Bach Choir.

With such a heritage, it is perhaps not surprising that she could write such spare, yet evocative lyrics …

The lake lay blue below the hill
O'er it, as I looked, there flew
Across the waters, cold and still
A bird whose wings were palest blue

The sky above was blue at last
The sky beneath me blue in blue
A moment, ere the bird had passed
It caught his image as he flew
Chamber Choir Tenebrae Performance of “The Blue Bird”

Music Charles Villers Stanford (1852-1924)
Lyrics Mary E Coleridge (1861-1907)
Performance Tenebrae Choir
Directed by Nigel Short


Article @2021 by John Anstie
All Rights Reserved


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The Hallmark of Success

It was on a wet and windy Saturday night, in October, in a little seaside town on the North Wales coast. The venue, whose size is out of proportion to its host, is international in its scope and contains a theatre that was packed to the gunnels, on all levels; and at £30 a ticket this is some achievement. What happened next was unexpected and quite extraordinary.

A group of amateur singers came together there, because they had been invited to be the guests of a large collective of women, who, like the men, happen to sing for love, not money. This is a routine invitation that happens every year to the chorus of men, who have won the gold medal at their own annual convention. They neither opened the show nor closed it as the ‘headline’ act, but rather perform somewhere discreetly in the middle of the show. Somehow their performance turned into something quite different, something that few of us had experienced before, even those who had been on the stage with this chorus times many over the years in the winning of an amazing eight chorus gold medals in the forty years since they first came together in 1978.

We stood in silence, watching our Musical Director mouthing and miming instructions to us, to be alert and ready to perform, listening through the back of the stage curtains to a quartet singing their songs with huge hearts. Then, following applause for the quartet, we were announced, reigning UK Champion men’s chorus, Hallmark of Harmony!

But, as the curtains opened, I had a personal moment of time travel. It is always the case that every time we do a show, those ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty or forty minutes on stage seem to fly so quickly that it is easy to forget how it felt, whether I got all my parts right, how I sung, whether I performed as I should. In that moment, I thought we had finished and the audience, which filled the theatre, were applauding, cheering and standing to thank us. After that brief moment, it quickly became apparent that we hadn’t yet sung a note! We were being charged with energy from a very appreciative crowd, who, it seems, were either offering us the warmest of welcomes, or simply expecting great things …

I imagine what it must be like for a successful sports team, at the top of their game – with a large following of tens of thousands of fans – whose game is lifted by the energy of that crowd, its energy, its enthusiasm, its support. Well, ours was lifted that Saturday night. We were given wings … and I think we delivered on the promise.

It took only four songs, with their well thought out links in between, telling stories of fun, joy, the value to the spirit of singing and gratitude for what we had achieved; for what the Sheffield Barbershop Harmony Club had done for Barbershop, for singing in the UK. Yes Sheffield. Once, in close living memory, the City of Steel; now, a city of music and of culture. A city where one of the four UK Assay Offices was created nearly two hundred and fifty years ago, to enable the accurate hallmarking of those highly valued objects made of silver and gold. Now a greater value is placed, maybe not by the establishment but, by so many extraordinary people, on creative endeavour.

So how do we value the art of harmony singing? How can we put a stamp on it? How do we hallmark it?  In short, we cannot. In countless testimonies, the health and well-being of those who take up singing in groups, particularly in harmony singing, receives unquantifiable reward, not often with silver and gold medals, but every day, by raising the status of the human spirit. At a time when we are faced with burgeoning evidence of corrupt political establishment, self interest and selfish greed … for ‘things’, for stuff that provides, at best, only short term value and salve to damaged spirits. You cannot put a price on it; on making music and art with friends. This is my idea of success in life.

[ The above recording is not from Hallmark’s most recent time in Llandudno, but much earlier in the year, when we and the Cheshire Chord Company were separately invited to perform at Holland Harmony in the Netherlands. The song is “Without a Song”, for which the two choruses only had one rehearsal together. It was arranged by Hallmark’s own Sam Hubbard, and, as the lyrics will tell you, it has very special meaning for us. At the Venue Cymru in Llandudno, we did perform it again in the bar, where we managed to squeeze in a rather large gathering of singers from Hallmark of Harmony, along with two of the UK’s top ladies choruses, the Cheshire Chords and the White Rosettes to reprise it to resounding effect, along with some tears … tears that recognise the fragility of the human condition, the frailty of the human spirit, but above all this, how full of joy the human heart can be. ]

JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British writer, poet and musician –  a multi-talented gentleman self-described as a “Family man, Grandfather, Occasional Musician, Singer, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, Apple-MAC user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer”. He has participated in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and is a player in New World Creative Union as well as a being a ‘spoken-voice’ participant in Roger Allen Baut’s excellent ‘Blue Sky Highway‘ radio broadcasts. He’s been blogging since the beginning of 2011. He is also a member of The Poetry Society (UK).

Recent publications are anthologies resulting from online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group (Petrichor* Rising. The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears The d’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.

Petrichor – from the Greek pɛtrɨkər, the scent of rain on the dry earth.

Bella Ciao from Songs of Resistance 1942–2018

Guitarist Marc Ribot and legendary singer-songwriter Tom Waits perform Bella Ciao, an Italian folk song adapted and adopted by the anti-fascist resistance and the Italian partisans during the Italian Civil War (1943–45). You can read more about the song here. This song is featured on a new album by Ribot, Songs of Resistance 1942–2018 (video by Jem Cohen, an Afghanistan-born American filmmaker).


Drawn from Ribot’s website, with some edits:

“Every movement which has ever won anything has had songs,” says accomplished New York City guitarist Marc Ribot. For his new political album Songs of Resistance 1942–2018—released September 14 on ANTI-Records—Ribot set out to assemble a set of songs that spoke to this political moment with appropriate ambition, passion, and fury.

The eleven songs on the record include a few original compositions as well as traditional songs that are drawn from World War II anti-Fascist Italian partisans, the U.S. civil rights movement, and Mexican protest ballads.

“There’s a lot of contradiction in doing any kind of political music,” Ribot says, “how to act against something without becoming it, without resembling what you detest. Sometimes it is hard to figure out what to do, and I imagine we’ll make mistakes, and hopefully, learn from them. But I knew this from the moment Donald Trump was elected: I’m not going to play downtown-scene Furtwängler to any orange-comb-over dictator wannabe. No way.”

Portions of the album’s proceeds will be donated to The Indivisible Project, an organization that helps individuals resist the Trump agenda via grassroots movements in their local communities.

MarcRibot.com


The music from the album provides an eclectic offering, from acoustic guitar to electric, from folk-like stylings to experimental riffing. A variety of vocal artists provide heart-and-soul depth renditions of both the historical protest songs, made relevant again by that “orange-comb-over dictator wannabe,” and new songs that callout the wannabe dictator by name. Ribot has offered us a gift with which we can motivate and channel our drive to resist, a candidate for sound-track of anti-fascist U.S. partisans in the 21st Century, but also a context and framework to understand that this is not new and that we can win this struggle—as others have won before us in more dire circumstances. We have the advantage that we are resisting now, and not waiting. Let’s hope that it is not too late.

—Michael Dickel


Closed Doors to Hotel Rooms

Mr. Weinstein Will See You Now
by Amanda Palmer and Jasmine Power

 

released on BandCamp 23 May

Mr Weinstein Will See You Now - Artwork / photo: coco karol / design: andrew nelson
photo: coco karol
design: andrew nelson

A bit of lyric

amanda:
you came with bows and bells…

jasmine:
i’m not here to have

amanda:
you came here armed for action…
you knew the drill.

jasmine:
move over before i shelve myself
i’m not here to help you.

amanda:
every man behind the curtain

jasmine:
jerking knobs and smoking guns

amanda & jasmine:
shut your eyes pay no attention
just keep calm and carry on

black or blue, you choose
you’re free to be in between
play or lose
you say

Conversation fragments (via email)

Amanda Palmer: The song [Mr. Weinstein Will See You Now] began as a “let’s write something, anything together” jam session between me and Jasmine Power, a 24-year-old Welsh songwriter who happened to be over to a dinner party at my house. She’d been randomly invited over by a mutual Welsh playwright pal of ours, Hywel John. We’d never heard each other’s music, and after bonding over a late-night music-sharing wine-party, we found ourselves in a studio three days later, excited to create something from scratch.

The news about Stormy Daniels was just hitting fever pitch, and I found myself thinking about closed doors to hotel rooms across the world and over time and how they’ve been the backdrops of so many of these painful encounters. That was the starting point, and we wrote with the idea of a split self: two voices inside one woman’s head.

I’m goddam proud of it.

Me: First listen—haunting, almost like ghost voices signing from the memories.

[I meant singing, but, signing—why not?]

Sorry—possibly a vague impression. It takes me a few listens/reads to absorb poetry. This is poetry.

Amanda Palmer: That’s the idea. The lyrics aren’t supposed to be completely audible.

Me: Like the memories and stories—suppressed and emerging.

Amanda Palmer: Exactly.

A bit of lyric

amanda & jasmine:
black or blue
you choose
you’re free to be in between
play or lose
you say
it’s still not what you meant to mean
black or blue
you mean
what?
you can’t be serious
don’t you dare forget

jasmine:
that i’m the one writing this
i’m the one writing this

amanda:
and this never happened.

jasmine:
i’m the one writing this.

amanda:
this never happened.

jasmine:
i’m the one writing this.

Memory fragment

For me, sexual abuse re-sounds as shattering glass.

Decades ago, I worked as an overnight counselor in a shelter for runaway teens. One night, shattering glass took me into a room. A teen girl held her hand, blood running down it. Broken glass from the window had cut her open as she slammed her reflection in the glass.

She had been praying. She saw herself in the window. She was angry at god and struck herself, her reflected self in the black glass of night.

When I went over to her, starting to tend to her wounds, she kept shouting, “he fucked me he fucked me he fucked me,” looking at her bloody hand. Then she looked up at me. “My father fucked me,” quietly.

Am I surprised by #MeToo? No. I saw too many teen girls sexually abused by family members, by fathers—if men did this to their own daughters, why wouldn’t they abuse any woman?

Encounters with teens’ stories—shattered psyches wanting to rebuild a sense of self, running away from what they could no longer live with—these stories forged what I would later call my “street feminism.”

The power of a whisper shocked me into an awakening awareness. It was, perhaps, the most powerful whisper I have ever heard.

Mr. Weinstein Will See you Now

The strength of Amanda Palmer’s and Jasmine Power’s performance lies in the haunting, quiet emergence of story fragments weaving into a single story—the building emotion, the details that in Hollywood’s male gaze would be erotic details:

your shirt is on the table…

your skirt is on the floor…

countered by crossing voices from women’s emotional reality:

you crouch down in the bathroom…
our time is at a loss
the mirror makes you sick…
won’t have you in me

The music uses piano to paint the emotion, the growing power of the singers. As they share their stories, their voices slowly build toward crescendo. Matt Nicholson, a British composer and film-music arranger, brings “strings and orchestration to make the track more cinematic; almost overdoing it at points to kick Hollywood in the face,” Amanda Palmer writes.

At times, the orchestration pulls back to let the voices and piano convey raw emotion:

amanda & jasmine:
just turn me over

jasmine:
fast and
let’s get this over with
let’s get this over with

amanda:
let’s get this over with

jasmine:
let’s get this over with

Amanda Palmer: I’d been fiddling in my own head for months with ideas for songs and tunes to address the #MeToo movement, and it’s such a hard thing to write about it. It’s so personal to these women, these stories, and it felt too wrong to write something funny and cabaret; the topic is too harrowing.…
It doesn’t sound like anything I’ve ever made before; it’s almost a mini piece of theater.

Me: Disturbing, powerful theater that almost hurts—the beauty of the singers’ voices, the music, combined with the pain and hurt of the reality of sexual violence—“black or blue/ you choose / you’re free to be in between”—but in between is neither here nor there—dissociative—hard to find a self, to cohere.

Shattering glass.

Until the voices gather the shards, arm themselves, and reclaim their lives:

amanda:
every version has two endings

jasmine:
every time the penny drops

amanda & jasmine:
open casket, open casting
this is where the story stops

jasmine:
i storm out through the hallway
i leave the scars inside
you won’t portray my picture
this film is mine

And at the end of the song, in response to “this never happened,” the song arrives at: “i’m the one writing this.”

Amanda Palmer and Jasmine Power
are “the one[s] writing this”

Amanda Palmer: It’s not surprising that, just like the movement itself, it took two women getting into a room together, comparing notes and joining forces to create something almost like an anthem for taking back our narrative.

Every time I play the track for one of my female friends, we have an important moment together.

I don’t know if most people will even understand this song; and I don’t care.

The women we wrote it for will understand.

—Michael Dickel
Essay @2018 Michael Dickel
Song Lyrics @2018 All Rights Reserved (Used by Permission)


Mr. Weinstein Will See You Now

photo:
coco karol
design:
andrew nelson

Song written by Amanda Palmer, Jasmine Power and Sketch & Dodds
Vocals: Amanda Palmer and Jasmine Power
Piano: Sketch & Dodds

Production: Sketch & Dodds
Strings: 7 Suns Quartet
Cello: Earl Maneein
Violin: Jennifer DeVore

Recorded at Applehead Studios, Woodstock by Chris Bittner, and at The Bunker Studios, NYC, by Todd Carder
Jasmine’s vocals recorded by Owain Jenkins at StudiOwz in Wales-Pembrokeshire in December 2017.
Mixed and Mastered in London by Taz Mattar


This originally appeared on Meta/ Phor(e) /Play as Behind Closed Doors to Hotel Rooms.

Related from Michael Dickel, on The BeZine:

Warm Blanket of Silence

An essay Michael Dickel has been writing since 1988, and of which he read a revised version for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women at Verses Against Violence 3, organized by Rachel Stomel in Jerusalem, on 24 November 2016.

Underneath the Stairs

This tale is told by many tongues,
of now and yesteryear.
Three hundred years of life are here,
but memories disappear.

Between each line, a thousand words
of love, of heart and soul,
there’s mystery here, it must be said,
when tales remain untold,

they seed a search for history,
a sparkle in the eyes
of once romantic sons of yore;
a family’s demise.

Refrain:
And how their days would start at dawn
to sounds of clacking feet.
Underneath the stairs they’d run,
their serving paths to beat.

Stone dressed, these monuments became
far more than home sweet home,
for they withstood the test of time
in centuries to come.

And who could guess, in such a place,
we’d cast our eyes and, more,
write stories in organic dust,
of lives that went before.

Their toil, by standards of today,
would break, in half the time,
the backs of men and women who,
at forty, passed their prime.

[Refrain]

Faint tinkling of bone china plates
their masters’ breakfast fare,
the focus of their energies
to serve, make good, repair.

And all day long these duties pressed
their shoulders to the stone
all day, each week, each month, each year,
their lives were not their own.

No leisure time to recreate,
without upstairs’ consent.
With no spare time or energy,
their lives were paid as rent.

[Refrain]

No time allowed away from toil
save worship Sunday morn,
where duty bound them to this house,
all but their souls forsworn.

So much depended on their strength,
their duty, loyalty;
with half a day each week to rest
they earned their royalty.

They had to cast off any thought
of freedom, every day,
they bore their obligation and
they signed their lives away.

[Refrain]

Then, life meant building grander things
mere ornaments to scale,
denying the austerity,
when nation could not fail.

And here to glimpse humanity,
their own great compromise;
to fall from favour and love’s loss;
so too a great house dies

… and with it all dependant life,
no welfare scheme was theirs
for all of its inhabitants
underneath the stairs.

[Refrain]

And as his mansion starts to die,
the Earl sold on his lot,
the need for education rose
and a roof to stop the rot.

But here’s the final irony:
for those who served in fear
of losing jobs for which, today,
we freely volunteer.

This grand estate, these monuments
this house and gardens too
are all the product of an age,
restored and serving you.

[Refrain]

This landscape’s green and pleasant land
its rooted, verdant gold
captures all these mysteries
for you that we unfold.

© 2013 John Anstie (lyric edited 2016)

[This lyric is based on an original ballad, written three years before, but extensively edited and augmented for Joseph Alen Shaw’s commission, the ‘Wentworth Cantata’, which was performed in the historic Victorian Conservatory of Wentworth Castle Gardens, South Yorkshire in October 2016. Joe has written about his composition, elsewhere in this month’s edition]

Cannonball Adderley Adrift

His music sounds lost,

as if he’s never seen a swan.

 

It sounds found again,

as if he has taken up a young

lady’s invitation

to bathe in her clawfoot tub.

 

His music sounds lost,

as if he has witnessed

a ritual drowning.

 

It sounds found again,

as if a bigger planet’s mass

is tugging at his tides.

© 2017, Glen Armstrong

Post-Punk

Allow the nuanced rose
to grow behind your face.
Or somewhere in Europe.

Walk up to the orchestra
pit and declare,
I found that essence rare.

Johnny Yip lets Johnny Yen
carry him over the threshold
and name the electric poodle.

It’s nice to pick someone
else’s scab for a change.
Make small talk with the fellas

as they tend their garden.
Praise Berlin and its underground.
Praise the word of mouth.

Praise the loud, distorted
announcement that your pictures
are ready to pick up at the kiosk.

© 2017, Glen Armstrong