It’s a very sunny Saturday here in northeast Pennsylvania, but I’ve got Rainy Day Music on my mind and literally, on my laptop. I’ve been listening today to the 2003 album, by the Jayhawks.
You may have read the recent post about poet Seth Pennington of Sibling Rivalry Press asking me if it was alright that he did a cover song of one of my poems. I was, of course, flattered and dumbfounded, and upon hearing it, hopelessly in love with his interpretation of the piece.
I know I’ve already talked about this, but man, when your work gets to someone enough that they create something new from it, that is astonishing and humbling. And it makes me want more than ever to be true to the poems I write, and where they come from. I’ve listened to Seth’s poem cover of “Wednesday Want and Worship” multiple times in these weeks since that post, and always with some tears. And now, I can’t help but hum the words to his tune. It’s like it was written to be a song from the beginning, and I shake my head in disbelief that these lyrics are actually the words I wrote.
That poem took a lot of editing and polishing, and also a lot of quiet listening to what the lines wanted to do before it could be sent anywhere. I worried that it was maybe too . . . I don’t know, let’s just say “too much.” But to know that someone in Arkansas grasped the plight of that version of me in the poem, someone growing up in rural, protestant, central Pennsylvania, well, to me that is was a completely unexpected and treasured gift.
My thanks again to George Guida and the editors of 2 Bridges Review for publishing it this spring in volume 7, and thanks to Nickole Brown for selecting the manuscript it came to live in: Angels & Adultery, for the Robin Becker Chapbook Series at Seven Kitchens Press. If you haven’t clicked on that link to Seth’s musical interpretation of the poem, please do.
So, why the Rainy Day Music by the Jayhawks? In Seth’s post on his site (linked further up above) he refers to “creative energies” around him “communicating with each other.” He finds the old Jayhawks album while cleaning :
“The poems feel like the record and the record then feels like the poems, like a tender question with a tender answer back.”
Now, I’m listening to the album and seeing connections, “Stumbling Through the Dark,” “Tailspin,” so much of what the speaker in Angels & Adultery was going through. But not without some hope and light: “Don’t Let the World Get in Your Way,” “Come to the River,” “Waiting for the Sun.” “Caught with a Smile on My Face.” The playlist for the whole album is here. And I’m so grateful to Seth for opening this view up to me. It feels like a lovely compliment and a serendipitous connection.
This first video is the one Seth linked to in his post, one I recognize and like very much. And what’s not to love about Mary-Louise Parker? I also love this more recent, live version. The second video, I think I want to dance to at my wedding, although maybe all the lyrics might not be as perfect for that as the chorus. I had heard it before, but never knew anything about the band that played it until now. The last video is even more recent, from the Jayhawks 2016 Tiny Desk Concert, starting off midway through with a song that fits with just how I feel today.