Changing Keys

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photo credit

Oh, how the music drew me once –

a cadence with my own –

the perfect pitch, the unison,-

the Harmony of tone. –

 

But change of keys, a sharper chord –

A melody postponed –

That left behind a requiem –

of death from whence it’s grown 

                       – CD-W

 

 

Brother Ray, the Genius

Before Ray Charles lost his sight at the age of seven, he was mesmerized each time he went to Wylie Pitman’s Red Wing Cafe. While Pitman played boogie woogie on an old upright, he began teaching Charles how to play.

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My chalk painting of little Ray watching Pitman

 

Although without sight, he did not play Blindly. He had both direction and purpose and we are all better for having had him in our lives.

 

Learning with challenges

 

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photo credit

Scoots’ hand in mine, we walk home from school. His other hand blows a new harmonica, one of many Miss Helen bought at Johnson’s Variety.

He’s getting better at playing “Has Anybody Seen My Gal.” He misses notes sometimes, but now I can almost sing along without hour-long Pauses between the words.

“You like playing, Scoot?”

He takes the harp from his mouth and wipes it on his sleeve like a real musician. “Like DeFord Bailey.”

“Who’s Difford Bailey?”

“DeFord Bailey. Best ever. That’s gonna be you someday, Scooter,” he says in a Frankish-enough voice I have to laugh. “DeFord had polio. Polio. Like me.”

“You never had polio, Scooter.”

“DeFord learned anyway,” he says, straight in my eyes.

And then I know. Scooter understands that, unlike most folks in Holly Gap, Frank believes in his abilities to learn.

Scoot drops my other hand and uses both to play us home.

Excerpt from The Moonshine Thicket

 

 

Dancing with the Moon

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The moon over Memphis, looks down at me.

She shines on a river that drifts out to sea.

I can tell by her glow, what she’s trying to say,

“Please have this first dance with me.”

and we go one, two, three, one, two, three…

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painting by me

The moon over Memphis is dancing with me,

We shine on a river that drifts out to see,

She can tell by my glow what I’m trying to say,

“Please have this last dance with me.”

And we go, one, two, three, one, two, three …

(A song I wrote a while back)

 

I’m ashamed, and shocked

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… but I don’t take full responsible for my ignorance. As you, my blogger friends and followers know, I have very little patience for the intolerance in our world. My belief system stands firmly planted to the principles of social justice, civil rights and equality. So, why did I just recently learn about Emmett Till? I’m curious. Have you heard of him?

I am currently living in 1963. While working on my new manuscript, I am researching various aspects of life in the 1960’s. Presently titled Olvie and Chicken Coop, teenager Grace Cooper tries to befriend a “Negro” boy who’s visiting from Alabama, but can’t understand why he is so stand-offish. (Not the whole premise of the novel but I’ll tell you more about that another time.) But my particular story line was set when research introduced me to Emmett Till. (I must have missed Bob Dylan’s 1962 song, The Death of Emmett Till)

I know about the Woolworth sit-in, Rosa Parks and the bus, the Freedom Fighters, etc.  I didn’t realize, but now know, that many African American’s moved from the south to Chicago to distance themselves from the John Crow laws — Chicago where they could walk with their heads held high.

I was shocked to learn that this fourteen-year-old boy, who travelled from Chicago to Mississippi in 1955 to visit relatives, never made it back home and the mortifying reasons why.

This boisterous, self-assured young man, didn’t know the “rules” of the south at the time. In some disputed way, either by words or by wolf-whistling at a married white woman, Emmett Till was hunted down by the man’s wife and his half-brother for flirting with a white woman. After being terribly brutalized, Emmett’s body was discovered in the river. The murders were acquitted and set free.

God Bless You, Emmett Till, a kid with only candy in his pockets.

And, ironically, just over a month ago, Emmett Till’s accuser admits she lied. Time to clear her conscience?

For more about Emmett read here.