American Idyll

yes, the river knows

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Here Is The Prize That You Have Won

Pentangle : Lady of Carlisle...6/27/72

At this point Alexander was visited by envoys from Syrmus, the King of the Triballians,
and from the various other independent tribes along the Danube. The Celts from the Adriatic Sea also sent representatives - men of haughty demeanor and tall in proportion. All professed a desire for Alexander's friendship, and mutual pledges were given and received. Alexander asked the Celtic envoys what they were most afraid of in this world, hoping that the power of his own name had got as far as their country, or even further, and that they would answer, You, my lord. However, he was disappointed; for the Celts, who lived a long way off in country not easy to penetrate, and could see that Alexander's expedition was directed elsewhere, replied that their worst fear was that the sky might fall on their heads. None the less, he concluded an alliance of friendship with them and sent them home, merely remarking under his breath that
the Celts thought too much of themselves.
The Campaigns of Alexander

Sunday, November 12, 2017

La Pistola Y El Corazón

Los Lobos: La Pistola Y El Corazón

no sé como decirte
no sé como explicarte
que aquí no hay remedio
de lo que siento yo
de lo que siento yo

la luna me dice una cosa
las estrellas me dicen otra
y la luz del día me canta
esta triste canción
esta triste canción

los besos que me diste mi amor
son los que me están matando
y las lágrimas me están secando
con mi pistola y mi corazón
y aquí siempre paso la vida
con la pistola y el corazón

no sé como amarte
no sé como abrazarte
porque no se me deja
el dolor que tengo yo
el dolor que tengo yo

esta noche tan oscura
con sus sombras tan tranquilas
y el viento me sigue cantando
esta humilde canción
esta humilde canción

los besos que me diste mi amor
son los que me están matando
y las lágrimas me están secando
con mi pistola y mi corazón
y aquí siempre paso la vida
con la pistola y el corazón

--david hidalgo/louie pérez

David Hidalgo/Marc Ribot
La Pistola y El Corazón
Denver, CO.

i don’t know how to tell you
don’t know how to explain
that there is no remedy
for what i feel inside
for what i feel inside

the moon tells me one thing
the stars tell me another
and the light of day sings me
this sad sad song
this sad sad song

the kisses you gave me, my love
are the ones that will kill me
and the tears i’ve cried are drying
with my pistol and my heart
and my life here goes by
with the pistol and the heart
i don’t know how to love you
don’t know how to embrace you
because this pain i feel
this pain i feel
won’t leave me alone

the night is so dark
with its quiet shadows
and the wind keeps singing
this humble song
this humble song

the kisses you gave me, my love
are the ones that will kill me
and the tears i’ve cried are drying
with my pistol and my heart
and my life here goes by
with the pistol and the heart

--english translation by
johannes beilharz

I don't renounce my interest in gypsy songs. I don't see anything shameful in it, as opposed to, say, Prokofiev, who pretended to be enraged when he heard such music. He probably had a better musical education than I did. But at least I'm not a snob.
--Dmitri Shostakovich

Thursday, November 09, 2017

The Least We Can Do Is Try To Be There

Beethoven: Symphony No. 6

Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf. We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what's going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise. **

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9

After the one extravagant gesture of creation in the first place, the universe has continued to deal exclusively in extravagances, flinging intricacies and colossi down aeons of emptiness, heaping profusions on profligacies with ever-fresh vigor. The whole show has been on fire from the word go. I come down to the water to cool my eyes. But everywhere I look I see fire; that which isn't flint is tinder, and the whole world sparks and flames. **

Say you could view a time lapse film of our planet: what would you see?

Transparent images moving through light, “an infinite storm of beauty.”
The beginning is swaddled in mists, blasted by random blinding flashes. Lava pours and cools; seas boil and flood. Clouds materialize and shift; now you can see the earth’s face through only random patches of clarity. The land shudders and splits, like pack ice rent by widening lead. Mountains burst up, jutting, and dull and soften before your eyes, clothed
in forests like felt.
The ice rolls up, grinding green land under water forever; the ice rolls back. Forests erupt and disappear like fairy rings. The ice rolls up--mountains are mowed into lakes, land rises wet from the sea like a surfacing whale
---the ice rolls back.
A blue-green streaks the highest ridges, a yellow-green spreads from the south like a wave up a strand. A red dye seems to leak from the north down the ridges and into the valleys, seeping south; a white follows the red, then yellow-green washes north, then red spreads again, then white, over and over, making patterns of color too intricate to follow. Slow the film. You see dust storms, locusts, floods, in dizzying flash-frames.
Zero in on a well-watered shore and see smoke from fires drifting. Stone cities rise, spread, and crumble, like paths of alpine blossoms that flourish for a day an inch above the permafrost, that iced earth no root can suck, and wither in a hour. New cities appear, and rivers sift silt onto their rooftops; more cities emerge and spread in lobes like lichen on rock. The great human figures of history, those intricate, spirited tissues whose split second in the light was too brief an exposure to yield any image but the hunched shadowless figures of ghosts.

Slow it down more, come closer still. A dot appears, a flesh-flake. It swells like a balloon; it moves, circles, slows, and vanishes. This is your life. **


The mockingbird took a single step into the air and dropped. His wings were still folded against his sides as though he were singing from a limb and not falling, accelerating thirty-two feet per second per second, through empty air. Just a breath before he would have been dashed to the ground, he unfurled his wings with exact, deliberate care, revealing the broad bars of white, spread his elegant, white-banded tail, and so floated onto the grass.
I had just rounded a corner when his incouciant step caught my eye; there was no one else in sight. The fact of his free fall was like the old philosophical conundrum about the tree that falls in the forest. The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there. **

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Taking Tea With Weird Gods

Gordon Lightfoot: Seven Island Suite

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has this to say about the planet of Golgafrincham: it is a planet with an ancient and mysterious history, rich in legend, red, and occasionally green with the blood of those who sought in times gone by to conquer her; a land of parched and barren landscapes, of sweet and sultry air heady with the scent of the perfumed springs that trickle over its hot and dusty rocks and nourish the dark and musky lichens beneath; a land of fevered brows and intoxicated imaginings, particularly among those who taste the lichens; a land also of cool and shaded thoughts among those who have learned to forswear the lichens and find a tree to sit beneath; a land also of steel and blood and heroism; a land of the body and of the spirit.

This was its history. And in all this ancient and mysterious history, the most mysterious figures of all were without doubt those of the Great Circling poets of Arium. These Circling Poets used to live in remote mountain passes where they would lie in wait for small bands of unwary travelers, circle around them, and throw rocks at them. And when the travelers cried out, saying why didn’t they go away and get on with writing some poems instead of pestering people with all this rock-throwing business, they would suddenly stop, and then break into one of the seven hundred and ninety-four great Song Cycles of Vassillian. These songs were all of extraordinary beauty, and even more extraordinary length, and all fell into exactly the same pattern.
The first part of each song would tell how there once went forth from the city of Vassillian a party of five sage princes with four horses. The princes, who are of course brave, noble and wise, travel widely in distant lands, fight giant ogres, pursue exotic philosophies, take tea with weird gods and rescue beautiful monsters from ravening princesses before finally announcing that they have achieved enlightenment and that their wanderings are therefore accomplished.
The second, and much longer part of each song would then tell of all their bickerings about which one of them is going to have to walk back.

--Douglas Adams
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Refugio De La Tormenta

Bob Dylan: Shelter from the Storm

With a heart

of furious fancies

whereof I am


with a burning spear,

and a horse of air,

to the wilderness

I wander...

--Tom O'Bedlam

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Stand Together

Donovan: Season of the Witch

Samhain , pronounced sow-en and called Halloween today, is the ending of the Celtic year. The Celtic new year actually begins at sunset on October 31. This ritual is known as Ancestor Night or Feast of the Dead. Because the veil between the worlds is thinnest on this night, it was and is considered an excellent time for divinations. Feasts are made in remembrance of dead ancestors and as an affirmation of continuing life. A time for settling problems, throwing out old ideas and influences. This is either celebrated October 31, or the first Full Moon in Scorpio.

tw hosts the Safari Club luncheon

Walder Frey: You're wondering why I brought you all here. After all, we just had a feast. Since when does old Walder give us two feasts in a single fortnight? Well, it's no good being Lord of the Riverlands if you can't celebrate with your family, that's what I say! I've gathered every Frey who means a damn thing so that I can tell you my plans for this Great House, now that winter has come. But first...a toast!
House Frey: Aye!
Walder Frey: No more of that Dornish horse-piss!
This is the finest Arbor Gold. Proper wine for proper heroes!
House Frey: Hear, hear!
Walder Frey: Stand together!
House Frey: Stand together!
[They drink, but Walder halts his own cup inches from his lips, watching them. Kitty Frey attempts to take a cup and drink but Walder stops her.]
Walder Frey: Not you. I'm not wasting good wine on a damn woman.
[To his men] Maybe I'm not the most pleasant man, I'll admit it. But I'm proud of you lot. You're my family. The men who helped me slaughter the Starks at the Red Wedding. Yes, yes. Cheer. Brave men, all of you. Butchered a woman, pregnant with her babe. Cut the throat of a mother of five. Slaughtered your guests after inviting them into your home.
[Several of the Freys begin to cough]
Walder Frey: didn't slaughter every one of the Starks. No, no...that was your mistake. You should've ripped them all out, root and stem!
[The Freys all begin choking, many of them vomiting blood and collapsing]
Walder Frey: Leave one wolf alive, and the sheep are never safe.
[As the last of the Freys collapse dead on the floor, Walder reaches up and removes his face, revealing that "he" is actually Arya Stark , who turns to Kitty Frey.]
Arya Stark: When people ask you what happened here, tell them the North remembers. Tell them winter came for House Frey.

--Game of Thrones
(season 7, episode 1)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Unto The Place From Which The Rivers Come


Richie Havens: Indian Prayer

All the rivers

run into the sea;

yet the sea

is not full;

unto the place

from whence

the rivers come,

thither they return again.

--Ecclesiastes 1:7

photographs by Edward Curtis

Monday, October 23, 2017

Trains That Don't Stop At Your Station

Sandy Denny : 3:10 to Yuma **

Time goes faster the more hollow it is.
Lives with no meaning go straight past you,
like trains that don’t stop at your station.

--Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The Shadow of the Wind

** alternate take

Thursday, October 19, 2017

New In Every Moment

four from Granite Rapid

Grateful Dead: 10/19/73

But out of all secrets of the river, he today only saw one, this one touched his soul.
He saw: this water ran and ran, incessantly it ran, and was nevertheless always there, was always at all times the same and yet new in every moment! Great be he who would grasp this, understand this! He understood and grasped it not, only felt some idea of it stirring, a distant memory, divine voices.

--Hermann Hesse

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Very Wine Of Blessedness

Grateful Dead: October 17--19, 1974

And all the host laughed and wept, and in the midst of their merriment and tears the clear voice of the minstrel rose like silver and gold, and all men were hushed. And he sang to them, now in the Elven-tongue, now in the speech of the West, until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.

--J.R.R. Tolkien

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