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Sensuous Solstice

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NEW YEAR … old RUTS! Begone!!

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I get stuck in the “rut” of trying to always write song lyrics that recite a story of some sort… what I think of as Harry Chapin songwriting… a narrative that has a beginning, a middle and an end.

It’s not a bad thing at all, but I think an assortment of approaches is good too…. would you agree?

Ruts in any endeavour, any area of our lives, are a monotony danger, and certainly one I rush away from the furrow’s edge in the other direction to avoid.*run away screaming*

Easier said than done though.

Freshness and new approaches help maintain an active and energized mind, an inner enthusiasm, a mini-orgasm of excitement …

This week, in another of my ongoing series of musical lyric blogs, I’m avoiding the “rut”, the story approach, and aiming for a less narrative-directed, more sense-based set of musical poetry.

When I think of airy, sensual music, a couple of examples come to me like Van Morrison’s Into The Mystic, or almost anything by Leonard Cohen.

Or how about a more recent feathery song I’ve been drawn to by a group of talented young musicians called Darlingside and their song, Hold Your Head Up High

How it rambles ’round the moon
A let-go-of balloon
Nothing is forever, everything is soon
And my father as he stands
A perfect cartoon man
Heavy-sighed and open-eyed, I heard him speak
Hold your head up high
Hold your head up high

Rise it up, it’s fine terrain
The time will come again
And misery’s no rest for weary gentlemen
See that humankind is you
Like all the rest, down to
The scratches on the album that you’re singing to
Hold your head up high
Hold your head up high

Through the light and through the shadow
I won’t wait it out, wait it out

So let’s get started here.

A part of our annual cosmic adventure is the ebb and flow of solstices. Solstices are markers of our time, the seasons of our lives. Solstices are important to me.

I feel an acute inner dread as we pass by the summer solstice and set out towards shorter, cooler, autumn and winter days…

… and then finally one day, the magic of winter solstice arrives and the excitement of longer days grabs me affectionately by the shirt collar and tugs me forward … forward to spring and the advent of new birth, new life bursting from the soil.

Enough said … here is my sense-based lyrical ode to the passage of winter solstice.

solstice

SIDES OF SOLSTICE

by Larry Green

smoky hue autumn brew
fizz pop proof of
luge rushing into December’s funnel
grasping winter’s tunnel
this icy pull of magnet pole
slippery tilt and earthly roll

dwarfed days charcoal skies
azure sinew patches carved with penknives
Charlie Brown sugar snowflakes taste
angel arms shivered and braced
smell the eggnog, sip the wine
push hard and harder at sun’s lowly climb

let’s hail this day this morning prize
as tiny ship sails o’er horizon sky
our worldly home comes creaking back
slow on slow escape this astral sandtrap

red hue yellow blue
emerald leafy proof of
running shoes by crocus bloom
discarded fleece Beach Boy tunes
light eons remain to harvest moon
sweet naked arms and torso too

weary, turns refreshed by days
robins and cicadas take flight and chase
bright shadows no longer freezing
perfume-infused dandelion breezing
the time that comes again again
forever comes again

let’s hail this day this morning prize
as tiny ship sails o’er horizon sky
our worldly home comes creaking back
slow on slow escape this astral sandtrap

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Childhood Solstice

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This week’s song lyric is a reflection on summer and youth …

… we all carry within us a trunk filled with sunny memories of long, warm, (hopefully) carefree summer days.

My early boyhood in Hamilton, Ontario was a mix of outdoor sports (football, baseball, tennis), mischief with friends, occasional flirting with a young crush, delivering newspapers, family meals … all within the milieu of a hot, humidity-soaked summer day next to Lake Ontario.

And of course, the bittersweet notion of summer solstice… that moment when the procession of long…  longer … longest days … comes to a halt and the slow slide towards fall and winter begins…

This 6-verse song – like summer wear – is going semi-naked … chorus-less and bridge-less. The rhyme pattern is a bit ragged but I’m OK with this… just because!

Most current songs you hear have a chorus with a distinct “hook” that makes the song memorable and humm-able – think of your favourite songs and how you often remember the words to the chorus but not the verse …

… which means that when I get to setting these words to music, each verse will need to have a catchy melody line with a sense of a “hook”.

music hook

OK, let’s go…

Here is this week’s song lyric:

CHILDHOOD SOLSTICE

First summerday breeze so stifling and damp
I have sunburns from the beach
grassy field stains on my pants
I have a laugh and a lust of playground flirting
Wallowing in my head, barely within reach

Lugging “The Spec’ from doorstep to door
I have the weight of canvas bag
black newsprint on my arms I abhor
I have the Scot’s brogue of Ogilvie sisters
Apartmentized pair of old tea-sipping crags

Then breath-sucking afternoon swelter
I have the sound of the truck chime
strawberry shortcake for a nickel or dime
I have Good Humour icy popsicle that melts
Syrupy orange on my face and sugary grime

The sun still high but here it is suppertime
I have Friday night eggs from the pan
Monday night chili made by Dad’s old hand
I have Sunday roast beef with everyone there
Tomato juice and steamed corn we eat with our hands

Nighttime flickering moths on streetlamps
I have chords of Paul and Carole and James
bouncing beats of Mungo Jerry
I have harmonic strains of Brian and brothers
Black and white Dick Van Dyke and The Dating Game

My head weighs down on this soft downy bed
I have baseballs and footballs thrown in my head
Mom’s amen kiss on my cheek cheeky-red
I have water sucked hard from a sprinkler
Glazed-over eyes playing hopscotch with stars

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The Sweetness of a Solstice Symphony

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paris-snow
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Paris with the snow falling. Paris with the big charcoal braziers outside the cafes, glowing red. At the cafe tables, men huddled, their coat collars turned up, while they finger glasses of grog Americain and the newsboys shout the evening papers.
     The buses rumble like green juggernauts through the snow that sifts down in the dusk. White house wall rise through the dusky snow. Snow is never more beautiful than in the city. It is wonderful in Paris to stand on a bridge across the Seine looking up through the softly curtaining snow past the grey bulk of the Louvre, up the river spanned by many bridges and bordered by the grey houses of old Paris to where Notre Dame squats in the dusk.
     It is very beautiful in Paris and very lonely at Christmas time.”
Ernest Hemingway

………………………………..

Christmas. The Beauty and the Beast.

Merry Christmas. I mean that.

I’m a Godless atheist. But…

I look forward to Christmastime… perhaps more for the coming of Winter Solstice than the coming of a Jesus child.

Maybe that’s not true.

I loved Christmas as a kid when I awoke and dashed out to the living room and found Santa presents like electric car-racer sets and Slinky’s and ukuleles, and Mom sat, wearily exhausted on the couch from all the Christmas preparations but smiling through half-closed eyes, enjoying the excited sounds of her family gathered ’round a Scotch Pine tree in the living room.

I watch old 8 mm. home movies now and twinkle inside at the filmy dream of my family that shared warm cheer 50 years ago.

I love Christmas for the food. The ribbon salad and warm sage-scented stuffing. Chocolate and shortbread everywhere, gooey sweet rum caramel-sauce-laden Christmas pudding.

I love Christmas for the all-is-calm solemnity of a belief system that involves majestic pageantry and the echoing sounds of beautiful harmonious carol singing inside a high-arched church or cathedral.

I love Christmas for the little lights strung everywhere and the soothing warmth of a crackling fire.

I love Christmas because once, soldiers set down their killing weapons and stopped fighting; cold, worn-out men from both sides ventured into No Man’s land on Christmas Day to mingle, play football, and exchange food and souvenirs.

I love Christmas for the sappy movies and shows- Bing and Rosemary in White Christmas, Jimmy and Donna in It’s A Wonderful Life, Charlie and Lucy in Charlie Brown Christmas, The Grinch and Cindy Lou Who.

bing-and-rosemary

I love Christmas for the positive feelings shared by the people I encounter in my life passages. “Merry Christmas“, we call out to anyone and everyone. It’s about the togetherness of people; Christmas makes people ruminate about love and doing nice things for others. A mild Chinook Yule-breeze changes peoples’ attitudes at Christmas.

Like a laboratory centrifuge (forgive me, old lab tech talk!), Christmas concentrates the emotions, the glad and the sad.

Joyous tears. Melancholy tears.

Christmas brings me a soul-seeping inner sadness and pain because I know others, who either by choice or by chance, have no connection to the spirit of togetherness on Christmas. Family either doesn’t exist or is estranged. I want everyone to feel good on Christmas Day and I can’t make it happen. I’m impotent in a way that no Viagra can resurrect.

My soup kitchen experiences have brought me into contact with dozens who have no place and no one to bring them warmth. Many – the dejected and lonely, even many of the volunteers – gather for lunch at the soup kitchen on Christmas day so they feel a connectedness to something and someone. Family.

I struggle with the bittersweetness of it all.

We invest so much of our lives in one day… one day that reminds us of the best and the worst in our lives.

skating

But, bear with my warped mind here… maybe a way – one strange way- to celebrate Christmas is to get naked like old-style pagans and pay tribute to the wonder of our own birth… how we began our lives as a billion to one long-shot chance on a blind date between an egg and a sperm (despite definitely knowing that OUR Mom and Dad never did that dirty horizontal dance!).

A 9-month prenatal courtship followed by that violent jettison from a wet and warm den down a slippery hallway. Surrounded by tired, sore and smiling parents. Our first words were cries, our first meal the rich milk of our mother. Swaddling clothes but no manger. Definitely no sheep or oxen.

A small elf [us] was unleashed on the world.

A new birth… the poetry and wonder of a life unwritten. It’s a Bach cantata, a Beethoven Moonlight Sonata written one harmonious note, one bar at a time.

Our own personal Christmas story… a rebirth, a new page turned in the next chapter, the next few bars in our grand symphony.

Christmas and Solstice are a Dickensian-like recall of spirits from our past, misty connections and ephemeral moments that slipped past but live on and breathe in our interior world.

May your days be merry and bright….

………………………………..

Anyone who believes that men are the equal of women has never seen a man trying to wrap a Christmas present.”

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