Daily Archives: March 16, 2010

Who wants Duende to come visit?

Here is Duende’s — and my — current gig schedule on the Reverbnation site.

We’re looking for gigs, actively, in the relatively local area…say, New England, New York, New Jersey, etc. Got new material…can’t tour extensively at the moment, but would love to get out and play…check out tracks and let us know if you’d like to book us.

We promise to be good.


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The Pursuit Of Happiness

All I was ever guaranteed
was a right to the pursuit
of happiness, not to
its capture.  Not one thing
has ever been sure in life —
there’s no right to see
the aurora borealis, the
emerald flash, the Grand Canyon.
Billions have died without ever seeing
these things, without knowing love,
children, freedom from want,
care, disease, war, famine and
bad weather.  Those things are mine
to face as well; I have no more right
to anything more than to be able to strive
for a chance at these things.

So when those rare moments come
of sun on my neck and a good message
from a friend, a word in the right space,
a robin refusing to move aside for my car,
a yellow tip on a daffodil spike,

I imagine myself a hunter
who will eat well tonight,
a seer thrown back into reverie
at a curtain of purple sheer before the stars,
a godly man sleeping soundly
with his family, sure of the morning.
I become a peasant who never expected
any of this, one of billions who have lived and died
since someone first scratched a bison prayer
into a rock wall, thinking of tomorrow
as if it could indeed
be different from yesterday and today;

whoever is modern cannot be more
than an ancient being
when seized by the ecstasy of a second
filled with a promise exceeded,
a pursuit completed for now
to be resumed in the seconds to follow.

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is Butterfly
on the broken
chrysalis.  Meteor
smoldering into
our sky. Tiger
crouching by the remote
irrigation ditch
at dawn.

Tired is the flat wheel
on the new car, the
white noise
of the ventilator,
the pump house wheezing
by the flood.

Tired, I am tired
as material sundered,
air riven, water
summoning its strength
to break through
an easy weakness
and flow freely again.

Tired as a mourner
on the coffin, closing
his eyes and recalling
walks, runs, late night
conversations.  Closing his eyes
while still in contact
with the source of his fatigue
and missing the butterfly,
the shooting star,
the tiger choosing another target.

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Stairway To Fela

I heard “Stairway To Heaven” on the car radio tonight, for the first time in a long time.

I have heard “Stairway To Heaven”perhaps three hundred times in my life,
having been born at the right time to have been inundated with it constantly
on the radio stations of my childhood. I do not own a copy of it for that reason,
I’ve never needed one if I wanted to hear it,  all I have to do is think about it
and every note is immediately present in my head as it was written and played,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and forever shall be, world without end…

in a bag on my couch is a gift from a friend, a CD by Fela Kuti I have not yet heard.

I have heard much of Fela in my life, but never on the radio that I recall
except for the occasional show I’ve caught from the left of the dial
on community stations or public radio or lately on specialty Internet streams
devoted to the propagation of things not heard by many of us who have drowned
for years in the same old songs or new carbons of the same old songs.  I have not heard
Fela Kuti three hundred times in my life, and I do not blame “Stairway To Heaven” for that,
it is what it is, and what it is is ubiquitous and perhaps as good as anything Fela wrote
but until now I’ve never had the chance to decide for myself.

Fela Kuti first began recording in the late 1960s, much as did Led Zeppelin.

What would be different if I’d heard Fela in my youth as much as I’ve heard “Stairway To Heaven?”
I’ll never know.  I do know I’ll have to work hard and incessantly now to embed anything by Fela Kuti
in quite the same way as “Stairway To Heaven” has been embedded.  I assume it will be worth the effort
from what I’ve heard of Fela so far, but I cannot help thinking that I may have been robbed
of something.  Years have gone by with me hearing snatches of “Stairway” at odd moments and thinking
that I really didn’t like the song, but much like “Yankee Doodle” it’s one of those things that sits in me
as soundtrack or background, informing me, insinuating itself into the meaning of dates and places
that might have felt different with Afrobeat in its place.  And in that alternate world of multiple possibilities,
who knows where I’d be?  What arpeggios might I have learned to play upon my guitar
if “Stairway” hadn’t been the first thing to rise in my fingers when a resemblance to it was detected
in some random sequence I’d noodled forth?

I say now that if there had been a universe where a Fela Kuti song could have been heard
as often as “Stairway To Heaven” by suburban American teenagers,
I would have been willing to see what glittered there,
what I’d have learned, what music I might have made,
where I would have ended up.
Would I have said it then?  Who knows? But I never got the chance to say it
and listening again to “Stairway” in my head I can say I am angry unto death with this unchosen path

and I don’t know if
there’s still time to change the road we’re on.

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