Friday, August 30, 2013

R.I.P. Seamus Heaney, Pen Digger

Soil and Strife (Obit)

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away

Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Another voice silenced

There was some bad news on TV today.

Linda Ronstadt can't sing anymore. She's announced she has Parkinson's Disease. Seems the disease, which attacks the muscles, including those in one's throat, makes it impossible for the victim to sing. And she is having trouble getting around. Spending some time in a wheelchair.

Ah, well. That sucks.

I first heard of her by way of her first hit record, "Different Drum" (by The Stone Poneys "Featuring Linda Ronstadt" as it says on the label of the original 45 - which I have a copy of somewhere.) Her voice was wasted on the Stone Poneys and she soon went out on her own.

But I don't have to tell you that. You know her as a famous recording artist, Rock and Roll, Country, Pop. Even more.

I don't like her politics, and I didn't like her political rants at her concerts where people paid good money to hear her sing, not preach. But I sure liked her music.

And I will miss it now.

I remember being shocked when I saw her in a TV production of Gilbert and Sullivan's "Pirates of Penzance". Shocked, because I always thought of her as a Rock and Roll singer and Rock and Roll singers don't sing opera. Linda sure did, though. Wow.

Why do I post this info about an American singer of Mexican heritage on my BritishSpeak blog, you ask? And well you might.

Because Mssrs. Gilbert and Sullivan were British. Doncha remember?

Here is Linda as Mable singing Poor Wandering One near the beginning of "Pirates."

Here is a related post I made a long time ago which also links to another "Pirates" clip with Mable and her many sisters, daughters all of the Modern Major General, and the cast, singing a reprise of "Wandering One" which segues into "Go Ye Heroes". So cool.

I love Gilbert and Sullivan, did I tell you? I love Pirates of Penzance. I loved Kevin Kline as the Pirate King. And Angela Lansbury...

Ah well.

Here's the pirates in "With Cat-Like tread" if you'd like to listen to it again. How could you not?


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