Saturday, April 23, 2011

Revisited...a post from 2009...ASTRAL WEEKS

Saturday, February 28, 2009
From other postings, you may have seen that songs - mostly from other times - thread their way through my life and mind. I suspect they take me places I would not have found without their help. Consider this another in a succession of non-linear stories.

A phrase can be enough to dislodge a memory or coax an idea to draw breath. It has been said that singer/songwriter John Prine began his classic "Sam Stone" with two words: broken radio, as in, "...sweet songs never last too long on broken radios." Last Sunday I saw a listing by Ann Powers in the Los Angeles Times entertainment guide. It read, in part, "Martha Wainwright with 'I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too'...made a gorgeous, hungry, sad, sweet album that anyone who's ever been recklessly in love should hear."

Recklessly in love. Oh no.

This morning on NPR's Weekend Edition there was a discussion about Van Morrison's 1968 album ASTRAL WEEKS which he performed live and in its entirety not long ago. Another such performance is scheduled. There was talk of it being considered one of the great, all-time albums by ROLLING STONE; a teacher at a New York university found that of 16 students in his class, 4 called it their favorite album; all 4 had been born long after its release.

Morrison was interviewed about its meaning, the personal experiences it illuminated. His response was that it was fiction, bits and pieces he'd collected from everywhere, "These are short stories in musical form." Others interviewed on the program said of ASTRAL WEEKS, " much of what makes music great is courage." (We are shown by the music that) " can be lived more deeply." I found my way to the album in 1970 and from the first listening, it was like sliding into a pool, sinking to the bottom, yet still being able to breathe. It made sense to me, I was unaware that it didn't match other music of that time and I found in it images that illustrated the inexpressible state of being, as I then was, recklessly in love.

Even after nearly 40 years, I understand, though I have learned to let go of such expectation, the madwoman wish to dip in bronze, to preserve, such rare merging of the human and the unquantifiable. At the time I didn't even have words for it, I just knew that I wanted to hold onto it in a way that was, at best, unwise and, at worst, extremely unwell, awarenesses that came to me much later. In THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, the thought, let alone the fact, of the gold is the source of insanity. I admit that some of us bring more than a little bit of crazy with us and under such conditions can reach states where instincts for self-preservation evaporate. And if those instincts were not too fully developed before recklessness took over, well, one might as well sit on the railroad tracks and stare at the sun.

I've not yet heard Martha Wainwright's album. I don't know if I expect to find consolation there or the uncomfortable reminder of what it feels like to be entirely in your body, yet out of your mind. I think of it as an obsessive state in which we imagine finding our way into a space of absolute knowing, a place from which we, or so we believe, cannot not be dislodged from our object, where there is, we hope, something substantial enough to grasp and trust, a place where we would be allowed to exchange reckless for real.

Surviving being recklessly in love elicits an ambiguous response in me; yes, I was there and managed to find my way back, but, like the last of our astronauts to leave the moon, will there forever be that longing for one final, impossible flight?
Posted by Marylinn Kelly at 2:02 PM

Patti said...

one last flight... the longing that is as reckless as the love... does the shimmer of that gold ever really fade?
incredible post, stellar writing, expressions close to home. a lovely, poignant read.
March 2, 2009 9:28 AM
LisaHoffman said...

" your body but out of your mind..."
How do you THINK Of such juicy and poetic revelations? The thing is this: You and I have many long phone conversations and I am a witness to the fact that these things slide off your velvet tongue with ease and simplicity. They come naturally. You are a poet, a writer who uses words like a full and dripping paint brush. I salute another great piece.
March 8, 2009 10:02 AM


Laoch of Chicago said...

One loves Van Morrison.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Laoch - One does, so much and for such a long time.

Radish King said...

I remember my ex-husband crying the first time he heard the song T.B. Sheets. He only cried two other times. When our son was born and when he watched the movie Crocodile Dundee. We listened to VM all the time in the early days of our love affair. Beautiful, Marylinn.

Anonymous said...

I had that experience with a book, at age 11.

I went out of my mind, trapped in my body, palms aching to make make make.

Now I dont dare go back to that eleven year old cataylst in case the magic is broken.

I dont want to re read that book, but keep the memory of the magic as it was...

Marylinn Kelly said...

Rebecca - Think I'm so smart and here, T.B.Sheets was not part of my memory. Now it is there. Thank you, Rebecca. VM was such a presence, as though he, too, inhabited the rooms. Sometimes the ghosts just zoom in from every direction. Wishing you a ghost-free day, week...xoxo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Denise - Keeping the memory of the magic allows it to retain the power, doesn't it. All the pieces have to come together just so...probably why I don't believe in can real magic be duplicated? xo

Antares Cryptos said...

I'll be back to catch up, but in the meantime, I just gave you something on mine.:)

Marylinn Kelly said...

Antares Cryptos - Thank you...I just stopped at your blog and found my prize, which I very much appreciate. Drop by any time.

RachelVB said...

There is so much here - I feel lacking in any sort of coherent thought.
Lately I've been wondering if as we get older the golden horizon is really something out of reach - horizons are really never met, they are always chased.
It's hard not to be let down by our expectations.
Thank you. The chasing of this gold will drive us crazy. If we perhaps look around where we are standing, we may in fact already be in the light.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Rachel - Which is the message I take, or certainly have, over time. Expectations embezzle our chances for a happy surprise. I think it comes back to whether we choose to live in this moment or somewhere down the road, a place we can never reach. xo

Antares Cryptos said...

It still surprises me how a line in a poem or a song can trigger so many memories and thoughts.

You're most welcome, much deserved:)

Jayne said...

I think of literature and music as religion. My religion. There is nothing other than nature itself that cuts to the heart, tugs at the soul, reminds us of our humanity, so much as as song and story. How lucky we are to be human, to be able to express ourselves as such. How lucky we are to have you writing these gorgeous, thoughtful pieces.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Antares Cryptos - Just the few words, or even the opening notes...anyone who doesn't believe in time travel is not paying attention. =^..^=

Marylinn Kelly said...

Jayne - Thank you and yes, how lucky we are to be human, to have awareness (we hope) of what surrounds and fills us. Radish King recently mentioned finding our own gods and saints through art, embracing the ones with meaning for us. Made sense to me. To words and music. xo