Iko! Iko!

Iko! Iko!

Two poems today. One a book poem, one a song lyric poem. One from American John Brandi, who I’ve never met, which is strange as we’ve known a few folks in common for many years, and have passed through a few of the same spaces. The other poem (song lyric) from Foy Vance from Northern Ireland (Ulster, UK), who I only just recently learned of.

As this designation of April as National Poetry Month is an American (US) thang, I thought I’d try to keep my related posts this month somewhat (not entirely!) weighted toward American poets with poems focused perhaps mostly on American subjects/settings. We’ll see how far I get with that…

Anyway, John throws a famously-Canadian Canadian artist into his poem. “America” as more than the US. Vance references many Americans in his lyric, but adds also a few other folks. As for me, I very often don’t even think about such distinctions, as I’m sure is true for John and Foy and many folks who live in a planetary geo-bio-cultural milieu. But regional distinctions/uniqueries can be lovely as well. Within our planetary family context. But ____k political/military nationalism(s)! The republic of poetry knows no borders, extends to, and includes, the farthest stars, and beyond….

 

THE AMERICAN GRAIN

Arthur Dove caught it,

so did Emily Carr: eddies of force,

sunspots talking, ridgelines buzzing.

Shimmer and Shakti of sky meeting earth;

fountains of moisture

from willow and spruce.

Charles Burchfield got it,

so did Georgia O’Keeffe: aura,

reverberation, seedheads exploding,

flecks of mica quivering

in the Swallowtail’s flight.

Eric Dolphy heard it:

highwire boogie of mockingbird,

slow descending notes

of canyon wren.

Weightless flow of wind

rendered VISIBLE.

Color of an echo

—sound

of the wild rose.

 

— John Brandi

from The World, the World (2013)

White Pine Press, Buffalo, New York

All rights reserved. This work, or portions thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publisher.

I’ll let you, dear Reader, do you’re own online legwork to hunt down the references in Brandi’s poem, with one leading clue: poet William Carlos Williams’ book, In the American Grain. Now, if you don’t know each and every reference, look ’em up! Go, seek thou, and learn.

https://books.google.com/books/about/In_the_American_Grain.html?id=y27z85NaPnMC

http://www.johnbrandi.com/

 

NOAM CHOMSKY IS A SOFT REVOLUTION

Carl Perkins for the rock n roll
Dr. John for the Jock-A-Mo
Little Richard for a Saturday night
James Brown if you’re feelin outtasight
Willie Nelson if you’re feelin low
Aretha Franklin if you need some soul

Play ’em loud.

But if you’re quiet and you’re brooding, baby
Noam Chomsky is a soft revolution
Jean-Paul Sartre if it’s all just so
Dostoyevsky if you’re in the know
A bit of scripture for a little light, baby

Che Guevara for a full on bar fight
Alexander if you’re feeling Great
Charlie Darwin if you’re thinking ‘bout apes

If you’re quiet and you’re looking for solution, baby
Noam Chomsky is a soft revolution
Old Joe Lewis gonna wear you down
Ali Muhammad gonna do it loud
Marciano got a granite chin, baby

Go get a Rocket for a 147
Gotta Bolt when you’re feeling lightning
And that Macgregor good lord he’s frightenin’

If your quiet and you’re sick of institution, baby
Noam Chomsky is a soft revolution

 

— Foy Vance

from The Wild Swan (2016)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/music/what-to-listen-to/foy-vance-performs-noam-chomsky-is-a-soft-revolution-in-exclusiv/

https://genius.com/Foy-vance-noam-chomsky-is-a-soft-revolution-lyrics
Carl Perkins for the rock n roll
Dr. John for the Jock-A-Mo
Little Richard for a Saturday night
James Brown if you’re feelin outtasight
Willie Nelson if you’re feelin low
Aretha Franklin if you need some soul

Play ’em loud. But if you’re quiet and you’re brooding, baby
Noam Chomsky is a soft revolution
Jean-Paul Sartre if it’s all just so
Dostoyevsky if you’re in the know
A bit of scripture for a little light
Baby Che Guevara for a full on bar fight
Alexander if you’re feeling great
Charlie Darwin if you’re thinking ‘bout apes

If you’re quiet and you’re looking for solution baby
Noam Chomsky is a soft revolution
Old Joe Lewis gonna wear you down
Ali Muhammad gonna do it loud
Marciano got a granite chin
Baby go get a rocket for a 147
Gotta bolt when you’re feeling lightning
And that McGregor good lord he’s frightenin’

If your quiet and you’re sick of institution baby
Noam Chomsky is a soft revolution

Carl Perkins: “Rockabilly pioneer Carl Perkins lent a helping hand when the two currents that defined Southern music at mid-century – rhythm & blues and country & western – came together as rock and roll.”

Dr. John: Dr. John, ‘The Night-Tripper’ (Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack, born 1940)

(Reference to Dr. John’s cover of the New Orleans song about two “tribes” of Mardi Gras “Indians” and their confrontation.

The song, under the original title “Jock-A-Mo”, was written in 1953 by Sugar Boy and his Cane Cutters but first became popular in 1965 by the female pop group The Dixie Cups. In 1972, Dr. John had a minor hit with his version of “Iko Iko”.

The most successful charting version in the UK was recorded by Scottish singer Natasha England who took her 1982 version into the top 10. “Iko Iko” became an international hit again twice more, the first being the Belle Stars in the 1980s and again with Captain Jack in 2001.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iko_Iko

 

Little Richard: References the opening line to Little Richard’s 1956 track, “Rip it Up”:

Well, it’s Saturday night and I just got paid,
Fool about my money, don’t try to save,
My heart says go go, have a time,
Saturday night and I’m feelin’ fine,

James Brown: This refers to the James Brown song released in 1964 under the pseudonym Ted Wright. This song is believed to be an important step in the evolution of funk music.

Willie Nelson: While Willie Nelson was known for writing songs about being sad or feeling low, this song likely is referencing the song, “You Just Can’t Play a Sad Song on a Banjo”.

Now we all know the violin plays sweetly
And the steel guitar thrills all the world completely
But for all around good fun there’s really only one
And it’s round and firm and fully packed and puts the blues on the run

And you just can’t play a sad song on the banjo
A banjo tune will have to make you smile
And when you’re feeling low and melancholy
Just pick up the ol’ banjo by Golly
‘Cause you just can’t play a sad song on the banjo

Now bad news just won’t hang around the banjo
Old dismal gloom will have to disappear
A sad song can’t be played so please don’t be afraid
‘Cause you just can’t play a sad song on the banjo
Willie Nelson – You Just Can’t Play A Sad Song On A Banjo

Aretha Franklin: is a female vocalist who has garnered the title “The Queen of Soul”.

Foy is prefacing the chorus with the fact that if you want to feel something powerful that isn’t necessarily non-violent then listen to his examples at high volume to match whatever mood you’re in.

However, if you’re feeling subdued or without energy there is another option.

A soft revolution is another term for a non-violent revolution. Noam Chomsky is an American professor of linguistics, anarchist, human rights activist, socialist and political analyst.

He is also a proponent of nonviolence to bring forth change.

In an interview with Francine Stock on BBC FOUR in January of 2003 he answered the question of when it is right to intervene in the affairs of another nation:

I think there are conditions under which that would be possible. One basic condition is that nonviolent – you mean violent intervention? – that nonviolent means have been exhausted. That’s one condition. A second condition is that the people of the country in which you’re intervening support the intervention. Under those conditions – and you can think of others – intervention would be justified. However, we don’t ever apply those conditions.

The Legitimacy of Violence as a Political Act?

Scripture: A simple reference to the Holy Bible. Light is often used as a symbol in scripture to describe God and faith in God, e.g. John 8:12, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

This line cleverly references naturalist Charles Darwin’s contributions to the study of evolution and his idea that humans descended from apes. The iconic image “March of Progress” depicts this theory, showing 25 million years of human evolution in which apes developed gradually into human beings.

Rocket: This line references Ronnie O’Sullivan, a professional snooker and pool player whose nickname is “The Rocket.” O’Sullivan is regarded as the world’s best snooker player, and 147 refers to the sport’s maximum break, a break being the shots (in the correct order) that make up a player’s turn at the table. O’Sullivan holds the world record for competitive maximum breaks.

Bolt: Usain Bolt, (born 1986) is a Jamaican sprinter. He is the first person to hold both the 100 metres and 200 metres world records since fully automatic time became mandatory. He also holds the world record as a part of the 4 × 100 metres relay. He is the reigning world and Olympic champion in these three events. Due to his unprecedented dominance and achievements in sprint competition, he is widely considered to be the greatest sprinter of all time.

Macgregor: Probably (?) Donald Forbes Macgregor (born 23 July 1939) is a Scottish long-distance runner, teacher and politician. He competed in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, representing Great Britain in the men’s marathon event, in which he finished in seventh position in 2:16:34.[1] He also competed for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in 1970 in Edinburgh and 1974 in Christchurch. He had a personal best of 2:14:15.4.[2]

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