Monday, June 1, 2009

Spoon River

Sometimes you get caught up in history by the love of a song, especially when it's well done. That's how the subconsicious has been since Allison Sattinger and Matt Coleman covered Michael Smith's Spoon River at my recent house concert.

I forgot that 20 years ago we saw a Viterbo College play based on the Edgar Lee Master's Spoon River Anthology, and I forgot how rich the writing was in the novel. Now I am no reader but I intend to spend some time at Lately my writing time has dwindled to dust time, so I think I need to read and write again. I think I'm going to give up listening to music... HA... well maybe less..

Go to that site... it's cool.. this the most talked about poem written in 1915...

VERY well, you liberals,
And navigators into realms intellectual,
You sailors through heights imaginative,
Blown about by erratic currents, tumbling into air pockets,
You Margaret Fuller Slacks, Petits,
And Tennessee Claflin Shopes--
You tound with all your boasted wisdom
How hard at the last it is
To keep the soul from splitting into cellular atoms.
While we, seekers of earth's treasures
Getters and hoarders of gold,
Are self-contained, compact, harmonized,
Even to the end.

Then there is a video:

2008 RELEASE! A new look at a classic of the American heartland, which unraveled the myths about people who lived and died in the supposedly idyllic days of rural America. Director Thomas G. Smith has digitally remastered his original 1976 production, which captured Edgar Lee Masters’ lyrical realism with dramatic readings, authentic settings, and period photography. Smith's brand-new DVD adds nearly half an hour of new material exploring Masters' life and works, and includes interviews with John Hallwas, a Masters expert at the University of Western Illinois, and Hilary Masters, Edgar Lee Masters' son and a professor of English and creative writing at Carnegie-Mellon University.

In "Spoon River Anthology," Masters probed beneath life's surfaces to reveal the very human strengths and weaknesses of the people who inhabited his semi-fictional town. Smith's production, subtitled "Heartland Poetry for a New Age," shows why "Spoon River" was a major milestone in American literature - a book of poetry that was a national best-seller, and that still resonates nearly a century after its publication. DVD includes text versions of 11 poems. Click on the text version to go directly to the dramatic reading.

And if you want to hear the song covered by Allison & Matt.. email me and I'll send you the song free if you promise to go buy an Allison, Matt, or Michael Smith song on iTunes... or just go straight and buy the Michael Smith song on iTunes by Claudia Schmidt and you will have the version Allison listened to.

All of the riverboat gamblers are losing their shirts
All of the brave union soldier boys sleep in the dirt
But you know and I know there never was reason to hurt
When all of our lives were entwined to begin with
Here in Spoon River

All of the calico dresses, the gingham and lace
Are up in the attic with grandfather's derringer case
There's words whispered down in the parlor, a shadowy face
The morning is heavy with one more beginning
Here in Spoon River

Come to the dance Mary Perkins I like you right well
The union's preserved, if you listen you'll hear all the bells
There must be a heaven, God knows I've seen mostly hell
My rig is outside, come and ride through the morning
Here in Spoon River

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