In my previous blog I discussed the first two pieces I wrote with dedications to my son and my father/grandfather. Next in line is The Game, a collection of five songs I wrote on my own poetry in 2007. I am not a poet – but I have used poetry to express my most personal feelings in my ill-kept and irregular journal. All these particular poems are connections between myself and my sons, as well as to place. It’s too complex to explain each piece, but I will simply say I comment on my younger son’s surprising move from rural upbringing in NH to Manhattan, and my own confusion of having roots in Texas, to a California childhood, to falling in love with a pure New Englander. “Rot-peeled bark” on an old-crone-of-a-tree still standing in our woods contrasts with the rough but vital life of Manhattan and two of us deal with recurring depression.
Place stood in the way of attending my father’s funeral in 2012. I was in the middle of a long summer in Europe, writing a commissioned piece of music for the Beatty Youth Guitar Competition and about to record Gargoyles, an album of my mandolin works with 6 German musicians, when I got word my 94-year-old father had stopped eating. I chose to complete Passing in the Night and fulfill my obligations to my German friends rather than attend his funeral. My father had a great appreciation of the world and its cultures and people, so I tried to write a diversified group of five solos in his honor. Their sub-dedications and inspirations include a Bulgarian composer living in Paris, a German friend who I had just seen for the last time (dying of cancer), the wonderful young guitarists I had heard the year before at the Beatty, and three short phrases – the last I remembered my father saying to me on our last visit: “Don’t say goodbye, say au revoir, I’m still your Pappy!”
In the same stretch of time, I also managed to complete three short songs, with interludes, on three of the only four poems I know my elder son Gus has ever written! They live as word magnets on our fridge – four haiku-like expressions he composed some years before. This performance of Of Love and Soul will be the world premier of those songs.