Hold It All

Category: Music

Remembering the Dead/115

As every cell in Chile will tell
The cries of the tortured men
Remember Allende, and the days before,
Before the army came
Please remember Victor Jara,
In the Santiago Stadium,
Es verdad – those Washington Bullets again

–The Clash, Sandinista


Victor jara 2

Profession of Faith

“I believe in God—Bach’s God.”

Glenn Gould

Old Music by Colin McLaughlin

For years, I was obsessed with my mandolin. It was my travel companion–out of town, long walk, over night–I always had my trusty mandolin slung over my shoulder. It got worn down and weary looking, but it sounded bright every time I ran my hands over the wood and metal. A near perfect union.

I miss it. Ever since I played it at my mothers funeral, it won’t sing for me. It used to be I’d walk in the room and it’d wink and coax until I picked it up, like a persistent child raising its hands, wanting to be held. Now it’s an old piece of wood with a shadow over it. I try and play–but I always end up tossing it aside, upset. My mom wanted her sons to play “I’ll Fly Away” for her friends and family that day, as we did so many times by her bedside. It was a frequent request of hers those last months. I did not hesitate to oblige. In hindsight, I don’t know how I did it.

My banjo has no shadow over it, even though I played it for her just as much when she was sick, if not more, than the mandolin. But in that dark parting, it was the mandolin that accepted the burden of bringing that day to mind for years to come. Now my banjo is my best friend–I aspire to be the human equivalent of it: humble, goofy, nostalgic, playful, vaguely southern but in a welcoming way, happy and sad at the same time. We miss the elusive lady that made us a trio. She soaked up grief like a tired kitchen sponge. My old mandolin.



–Colin is taking my on-line class, Be in Love with yr Life.  he is a student at Saint Louis University.

Thursday Share the Wealth with Phil Cogley: A Life in Music

Courtney Barrett is wonderfully generous in sharing the wealth of her friendships!  This past week, Andrea Scarpino graced us with her poetry. Here’s Courtney on this week’s friend who will share with us:

This week, you’re invited to join us for an evening of snacks, discussion, and music, as we welcome and express gratitude for the incredible Phil Cogley, as  he tours the country doing the work he loves, work that is without question meaningful and valuable: “Music forges community, connects us to something larger, and helps solidify our identities as human beings.”

Philip Cogley, aka The Saturday Giant, makes no small contribution to the world. The Saturday Giant is the one-man art-rock band from Columbus, Ohio. Since 2010, The Saturday Giant has produced four releases, collaborated with technology conferences and performing arts groups, and given over 600 performances in 48 U.S. states. This innovative and compelling live show gives audiences a window into the songwriting process, as The Saturday Giant sculpts layers of guitars, drums, bass lines, beat boxing, keyboards and vocals into towering walls of sound, without the aid of prerecorded samples. Even while maintaining his rigorous touring schedule, The Saturday Giant is preparing his full-length debut for 2016. Read the rest of this entry »

The Gradual, Lifelong Construction of a State of Wonder and Serenity

On Tim Page, Glenn Gould: A Life in Pictures

This is a book in celebration of what would have been GG’s 70th birthday; it’s a short book, consisting overwhelmingly of photos of the eccentric, the genius all the time, the night-owl who worked till dawn, the despiser of concerts and touring, the glutton of weak tea, the telephoner sans pareil especially at odd early morning hours, the relationship control freak, the one whose Bach keyboard work on 10 CDs brought me out of the dark space of Mahler mourning that I had immersed myself in after the death of Mev.

Here is an example of a perfect sentence by Gould fan Tim Page: “No matter how one chose to define that extra, ur-Gouldian dimension—as expressive urgency, brainy intensity, spiritual seeking, nervous energy or some combination of all these and more—it was ever present in his best performances, which could have been by no other artist.” [14]   And this one: “He was witty, kindly, energetic and intensely interested, and extended an instant camaraderie to anybody whose company, telephonic or otherwise, he enjoyed.” [37] Read the rest of this entry »

Tonight’s Share the Wealth Book of Mev Soundtrack

Glenn Gould, Goldberg Variations, Aria
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Eddie Vedder, Face of Love
U2, All I Want Is You
Violeta Parra, Gracias a la Vida
Shakira, Ojos Así
Duke Ellington, Take the “A” Train
Bobby McFerrin, Don’t Worry Be Happy
David Bowie and Freddie Mercury, Under Pressure
Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On
Sinéad O’Connor, You Made Me the Thief of Your Heart
Mason Daring, Over the Moor to Maggie/ The Bucks of Oranmore
Sinéad O’Connor, Thank You for Hearing Me
Michael Nyman, The Heart Asks Pleasure First

Shaved Sinead

In Praise of Fairuz

While on my walk
The soft, tender voice of Fairuz was borne to me on the breeze
As if coming from an ethereal howdah:
“One day we shall return to our neighborhood….”
Fairuz’s voice, in songs that sprang from Palestinian sources
Gives me the feeling that our life has stability
That no matter how circumstances scatter us
Our ties to this precious stolen country will remain firmly secure
When I hear her songs about my country
My emotions rise and glow
I see my country as more beautiful than it actually is
I love it more than I ever have
I sense the tragedy of its loss as I have never felt it before
I love every face I see in its streets and ancient marketplaces
Its shops, schools, factories and fields
I experience the sense of belonging to something
Even if it has been lost
When I listen to Fairuz’s voice in her Palestinian songs
The sun shines in my heart and I realize that night exists on the outside only

–Adapted from Fadwa Tuqan, A Mountainous Journey


An awed interviewer once exclaimed
To the jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker,
“You do amazing things on the saxophone, Mr. Parker.”

The musician replied,
“I don’t know about amazing—
I practiced for fifteen hours a day for a few years.”

–Adapted from and quoted in  Michael Dirda, Book by Book: Notes on Reading and Life

A State of Wonder

The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenaline but is, rather, the gradual lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.

— Glenn Gould

Sarah Bollinger, at work and play

Sarah Bollinger, at work and play


Bach’s music was for [Glenn] Gould an archetype for the emergence of a rational system whose  intrinsic power was that it was, as it were, crafted resolutely against the negation and disorder that surround us on all sides. In enacting it on the piano, the performer aligns himself with the composer, not with the consuming public, which is impelled by the performer’s virtuosity to pay attention not so much to the performance, as a passively looked at and heard presentation, as to a rational activity being intellectually as well as aurally and visually transmitted to others.

–Edward Said, On Late Style: Music and Literature against the Grain