Kiss—he still longed for
her smile, touch–
he thought it
lost, but it surfaced, wistful,
as a song of love
Long a musical fixture in Central Park, the Naumburg Bandshell was the site of John Lennon’s eulogy in 1980.
We were much much younger then…
In 1904 philanthropist Elkan Naumburg began funding free symphonic concerts in Central Park with picnics and waltzing under the stars. They were so popular that the crowds grew too large for the space; the original cast iron pagoda bandshell was razed, the grounds were paved over, and Naumburg’s nephew, William, designed a new limestone bandshell. It was completed in 1923, with 10,000 attending the symphonic dedication.
I was wandering around the park recently (actually on my way to an appointment on the East Side, but I got distracted) when I found myself in front of the bandshell. It looked forlorn without any performers on this grey windy day. A few other people stopped to take photos then went on their way.
The Bandshell has a rich history, including performances by Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, and the Grateful Dead, as well as numerous orchestral and operatic groups. Martin Luther King Jr and Fidel Castro both gave speeches here. It was nearly razed in 1992 after years of vandalism and neglect, but preservationists, spearheaded by Naumburg’s grandson, won a court battle to save it. Renovation was delayed by the city until 2003, when the Central Park Conservancy raised funds to restore it.
Summerstage began its free concerts here in 1986. Because the park was considered so unsafe at that time, the concerts were only given during the day. The large crowds resulting from its popularity caused it to relocate to Rumsey Playfield in 1990, where it remains. Sun Ra and his Arkestra and Ladysmith Black Mambazo were two of the original acts that performed.
My John Lennon-inspired shadorma is for Merril’s prompt at dVerse, where she has given us a selection of English rose names to use in our verse. I chose Julia’s Kiss. John said when he wrote his song he was thinking not only of his mother, Julia, but his wife, Yoko. Love is complex.
You can read more about the Naumburg Bandshell here and the gathering for John Lennon here. I unknowingly lived for a couple years right down the street from John and Yoko in the Village, before they moved into the Dakota, and once saw John in the subway, running to catch a train uptown.
And, as always, there are always more doors to see on Thursday Doors. Visit host Dan Antion here.
it’s the alone in
the dance that makes the never
knowing so complete
Amaya at dVerse asked us to consider music that brings us to tears. There are many candidates these days, but I chose Jackson Browne’s “For a Dancer” for it’s longevity and continued relevance in that department. People, places, things…they are always “dancing in and out of view”.
And a ghazal for the song as well.
In the quiet of a summer’s afternoon I think of you
in the absence that is always in this room I think of you
My mind plays tricks and mixes up the present and the past
in memories recalled and then exhumed I think of you
Bananas peaches lemons oranges strawberries and limes
in fruit that ripens and releases its perfume I think of you
I search for guidance in the symbols of mythologies and stars
in portents that appear like ghostly runes I think of you
The fiber spun and dyed the needle waiting in my hand
in threads that cross like patterns on a loom I think of you
Sometimes I seem to recognize a voice calling and turn
in the abbreviation of my nom de plume I think of you
Pay attention to the open skies.
Marianne Szlyk, at “the song is…” has posted 3 of my poems with accompanying artwork as part of her tribute to musicians born in the 50s. The Prince and Police-inspired work appeared on the blog, but the Stevie Wonder-inspired art and poem are new.
She also has some wonderful musical links at the bottom of the post (as she always does), and I’d just like to quote from Stevie, first from the song “As”, and then from his words, spoken before he sang that song at Aretha Franklin’s Homegoing service.
“Change your words into truths
And then change that truth into love”
“Let’s make LOVE great again”
Thanks, Marianne, for featuring my work, and for your continuing support of music, art, and words.
You can see the post here.
The task of
the basket: calling
together with messages
condensed into song.
plant wandering seeds,
the dropped lines
into fertilized pockets,
bringing roots to light.
Cut loose but
not lost. Walking on
Today would have been Ella Fitzgerald’s 100th birthday. I’m pleased to have my drawing and poem included in the anthology celebration “Ella @ 100” .
“The only thing better than singing is more singing.”
Happy Birthday Ella.
I have two pieces of art and a poem inspired by the great Nina Simone and her song “Wild is the Wind” on Marianne Szlyk’s musical blog “The song is…” You can see them here, along with a fun essay by Bill Cushing on not driving. Marianne has also included a link to the song, as well as a variety of other musical pleasures.
“The song is..” features a lot of interesting writing, art, and music, so take a look around while you’re there.
doves cry purple rain
as symbol or royalty
nothing compares 2
I’m writing a short
letter: so beautiful; you
made me feel alright.
I haven’t been happy with the ink pen I found packed away from 35 years ago. While looking online for alternatives, I saw some feather pens. Some of them had metal nibs attached, but a few were actually quill pens. Interesting idea. I ordered two from Charles at Onlyrealquills on Etsy. They are beautiful to look at. The drawings above are done with the writing pen; I haven’t tried the calligraphy one yet. Charles sent me some tips for their use, but of course doing is always the best teacher. For first attempts, I’m pretty happy. They require a delicate touch, which I like, and I like how differing amounts of ink (depending on how deep you dip the quill) can result in a denser and blacker effect or can be quite light and delicate.
And Joe Cocker: Rest in Peace, the music will live on.