Chuck Berry: Johnny B. Goode

•March 19, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The great Chuck Berry has died. I will just repost this 2008 entry. May he rest in glory.

Here is Chuck Berry performing Johnny B. Goode on on Hullabaloo in 1965.

I love Chuck Berry so much. In spite of the fact that he’s on everybody’s list of the most important innovators in American popular music, I can’t help but feel that his genius is nevertheless under-appreciated. The rhythm and the lyric to this song are so jubilant and brilliant.

Johnny B. Goode

Deep down in Louisiana, close to New Orleans
Way back up in the woods among the evergreens
There stood a log cabin made of earth and wood,
Where lived a country boy named Johnny B. Goode
Who never ever learned to read or write so well,
But he could play the guitar just like ringing a bell.

Go Go
Go Johnny Go
Go Go
Johnny B. Goode

He used to carry his guitar in a gunny sack
Go sit beneath the trees by the railroad track.
The engineers would see him sitting in the shade,
Strumming with the rhythm that the drivers made.
The people passing by, they would stop and say
Oh my but that little country boy can play

(Chorus)

His mother told him someday you will be a man,
And you will be the leader of a big old band.
Many people coming from miles around
To hear you play your music when the sun goes down
Maybe someday your name will be in lights
Saying “Johnny B. Goode tonight”.

Maqam, by Zeina Hashem Beck

•March 16, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Zeina Hashem Beck

Maqam

If I die, you say you will let your hair
turn silver, grow long, and you will go
into the dark place, for you’ve already begun
to forget what Mecca means.

Where we come from, you and I,
maqam means home, means music; the Qur’an
can only be read as a song; a sheikh recites the Fatiha
as if he has built a house among the lines, the ayas.

We’ve both called our daughters Aya, and when they ask
about their name, we play holy verses for them, listen
to how the sheikh lingers long enough on each letter,
how the audience claps and whistles — Is it Umm Kulthum?

our daughters ask. He knows all his maqamat,
this sheikh, says God is greater, and Allah, Allah,
reply the faithful and the unfaithful alike,
for the earth is such a small planet, and look,

there is Ithaca, almost always on the horizon —
float, my friend. Ithaca — It is rough, but raises good
men, says Homer, but oh, the women, the women
know how to house the bodies of the drowned. They sing,

In the Name of the Cross, of God, the Merciful. A child
in Syria has amputated legs because he has ventured
into a minefield to eat grass. He still has two eyes,
two arms, a mouth. God is greater, is greater, stay

with me in the light a little longer. You light two cigarettes
at the same time, give me one. Tomorrow you will fly to Lesbos
to translate. The refugees will say shai, and you will say
tea, home, Mecca, Ithaca, maqam, maqam, maqam.



Janitor’s Photos of Migrants’ Confiscated Belongings

•March 15, 2017 • 2 Comments

Tom Kiefer, a janitor at the offices of U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Ajo, Arizona, collected the belongings of border crossers out of the trash and photographed them.

Toilet Paper

Tuny

rosaries

Article and more photos at the New Yorker.

Saving Daylight: The Movie

•March 12, 2017 • 2 Comments

They did it to help the farmers. They didn’t realize it would destroy everything else.

Ten Meter Tower

•March 4, 2017 • 1 Comment

Filmmakers Maximilien van Aertryck and Axel Danielson paid 67 people to jump off a diving platform ten meters high. It’s fascinating to watch.

Phil Ochs: Here’s to the State of Richard Nixon

•February 7, 2017 • Leave a Comment

In 1974, Phil Ochs rewrote the lyrics to his great song Here’s to the State of Mississippi tailoring it especially for the president of the United States at the time, Richard Nixon.

The song inspired many subsequent rewrites, including Eddie Vedder‘s memorable Here’s to the State of George W.

I find Vedder’s song so moving now, after all that’s happened since Bush’s disastrous administration. He said it right: “When the court elected a president it was the beginning of this war.”

But when it comes to raving clowns, no president compares to our present officeholder. I wasn’t surprised to find several rewrites in honor of The Donald. I thought this one was pretty great.

a mason jar full of fireflies

•January 26, 2017 • 3 Comments

Here is a mason jar full of fireflies courtesy of a battery, a switch, and some candle flicker LEDs. Enjoy.

Goodbye, Mary

•January 25, 2017 • 3 Comments

Mary Tyler Moore, 1936-2017.

 
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