From the verses of Shakespeare to the violence of Football, a soft hand on the nape of my neck to a rim's hard rattle after a dunk, the mute of Miles to the rhymes of Rakim, Hershey's chocolate to a garlic peppered, cedar-planked salmon, Joel Dias-Porter's thoughts scatter like grains of black sand across a wind-blown beach.
Friday, June 07, 2013
Doves and Fiddles
Today is the birthday of two of my favorite artists; Prince and Gwendolyn Brooks. Below find my Top Ten favorite Prince songs and favorite three poems by Ms. Brooks.
Ten Favorite Prince Songs
10. Little Red Corvette-This is the first song that made me really pay attention to Prince's lyrics. "She had horses in her pockets, Trojans and some of them used". Made me stop, think, and imagine. And that's what a good lyric should do.
9. When You Were Mine-"Even when he was sleeping between the two of us" *drops mic* What? This is actually Prince's most covered song. Unrequited desire all day and night long.
8. Starfish and Coffee-Another stellar lyric. A song that no one else could have written. Quirky, playful, clever. Traits that I love in music and women. But especially love in song lyrics.
7. The Cross-DJ Kool hipped me to this song by playing it late one night at The Room Nightclub in DC. It was a huge risk, but Kool had the balls to try it and pull it off. That made me go home and listen to it. It's basically a gospel ballad.
6. Another Lonely Christmas- One of his best B-Sides. I love Christmas music. I might be the only fan this song has, it rarely gets mentioned. But it's a X-mas song and its Prince and that's enough for me.
5.The Beautiful Ones-Prince does unrequited desire pretty well and this is one of his best. The anguish at the end is absolutely exquisite. This song has been covered, but nobody is probably ever going to duplicate the screaming (in key) at the end.
4. How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore-Another ballad about unrequited desire, as plaintive a plea as one is likely to ever hear. His piano playing on this cut is underrated.
3. When Doves Cry-Maybe his best lyric from a poetry point of view. I've taught this song in poetry classes, his use of images to show and not tell is masterful here. "Dream if you will a courtyard, oceans of violets in bloom, animals strike curious poses, they feel the heat, the heat between me and you."
2. Adore-Old School balladry at its finest. I also love the playfulness and humor in this tune. "Well, maybe not the ride."
1. No One Compares 2 U (Sinead O'Conner version)-Lyrics, music, it all comes together here. Her tendering of this song is just so dead on, emotionally it's pitch perfect.
Before I give my Top Three, check out the amazing lovliness that she made with these words.
when you have forgotten Sunday: love story —And when you have forgotten the bright bedclothes on a Wednesday and a Saturday,
And most especially when you have forgotten Sunday—
When you have forgotten Sunday halves in bed,
Or me sitting on the front-room radiator in the limping afternoon
Looking off down the long street
Hugged by my plain old wrapper of no-expectation
And nothing-I-have-to-do and I’m-happy-why?
When you have forgotten that, I say,
And how you swore, if somebody beeped the bell,
And how my heart played hopscotch if the telephone rang;
And how we finally went in to Sunday dinner,
That is to say, went across the front room floor to the ink-spotted table in the southwest corner
To Sunday dinner, which was always chicken and noodles
Or chicken and rice
And salad and rye bread and tea
And chocolate chip cookies—
I say, when you have forgotten that,
When you have forgotten my little presentiment
That the war would be over before they got to you;
And how we finally undressed and whipped out the light and flowed into bed,
And lay loose-limbed for a moment in the week-end
Then gently folded into each other—
When you have, I say, forgotten all that,
Then you may tell,
Then I may believe
You have forgotten me well.
My Top Three Gwendolyn Brooks Poems
3. The Blackstone Rangers-I grew up with cats like these. She deals with them in a way that is evenly measured, something that this particular topic wasn't going to be getting too much of in the literature of the day.
2. First Fiddle Then Fight-A masterful play on the Sonnet and sage advice for anytime or place, but especially for the late 60s
1. We Real Cool-Was there any doubt? Her most famous poem, for good reason. All of her quirky music, incisive wit, perceptive observations are here. I first encountered it while riding the 51G Mt. Oliver bus in Pittsburgh as a kid. It was part of the original Poetry in Motion program. I was ten. I read it over and over, outside of Dr. Seuss it was one if the few times that a poem just mesmerized me.
And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon).