I would like to talk about songs that in the subtlest and strongest, and always very specific personal way, become at one or come to constitute the flavour of a period of time.
I think there have been many in many lives.
In my case, in this very latest harsh and Waste Land period of my life while reading and rereading “White Egrets” by D.Walcott and reading novels I have listened to the intense voice, full of echoes of longing and prairies of Alela Diane from California; in the album covers, in the photos, she looks like a gorgeous Red- Indian-American woman, belonging to that historical mythical past so marvellously depicted in “Little Big Man”. But I discovered on the internet that she should be of Italian origins, since her third name is “Bevitore” “Drinker”. Well, many of us Italians are great bevitori!
Her voice and songs remind me of the poem “The Solitary Reaper” by W:Wordsworth in which he clearly evokes a voice which in his memory lingered and kept lingering in the air becoming at one with the field and the whole landscape.
I’ve always thought music and songs are like that, a subtle all pervading “salt” carrying the essence of moments, days and months. Salinger said somewhere, I think in “Catcher in the Rye” that no matter how difficult a period of time was there is such a peculiar flavour in some memories of it that makes one wish to go back to that time and relive it. Well, I am not sure if I would like to relive these latest months of winter and spring but Salinger was, in my horizon, talking about a sort of powerful nostalgia for life in general which songs like those by A.Diane bring about with their longing echoes.
The song-lyrics are not at all banal as it can easily happen:
Tatted lace frail figure graced
That has since been torn and stained
Still, there are heavy days about us
There are shards of something lost
But there’s white gold in the static
Relentless and charged with magic
There is danger in what we know
But there is good, there is good
I found her three albums: “The Pirate’s Gospel”, “To Be Still” and the latest “Wild Divine” in a record shop in the town where I teach in one of those idle hours in between classes when it is impossible for me to stay at school in the teachers’ room ( a setting of my latest sequence poem I have just finished, nine sections, and can’t wait sending around ) or in the corridors, because of the sombre light inside and the perpetual neon lights even when the sun shines outside. Without neon lights the low ceilings of the long corridors would be basically dark but with the neon lights they are dark all the same in their soul.
Well God ( or the Muse) help me: on Monday I must be back there for the annual boring, absurdly bureaucratic pre-exam assembly where I will be playing the role, with a bunch of very self-conscious others taking themselves so tremendously seriously, of a (as Grace Slick said in the late 60’s):
Grey Man Sane
No Color No Name.
Yes, because there’s a greyness surrounding us teachers in my country I feel we should continuously fight against, but most of us can’t see it. Or pretend not to.
Sorry…very personal view, of course.