Monday, May 22, 2017

Born 2000 years too late?

Teaching voice to teens keeps me aware of popular culture, and I'm grateful for that.  I immerse myself in a Katy Perry tune or a Taylor Swift song so I can better establish what it is my student wants to achieve through working on some of that material.  I'm often pleasantly surprised by how a simple lyric can be so clever, and I also appreciate the fact that writing a catchy tune with only a 4 note range is an accomplishment in and of itself.  Those 4 notes usually come back to haunt me, looping around in my head...over and over and over while I'm trying to fall asleep at night.

That being said...the "I appreciate simple can be great" thing...I sometimes feel like such an anachronism as far as music and poetry are concerned. I know I'm being a bit snarky here, but check out some Katy Perry lyrics:
"Cause I'm all that you want boy,
All that you can have boy,
Got me spread like a buffet,
Bon Appetit Baby!"

 (To be fair, It's funny...and it's great to dance to...)

Now check out some text that actually makes me let out an audible "wow"
Sappho 31 written in the 4th century BC, One of Sappho's most famous poems originally written in the Aeolic dialect so I'm not sure that this is the best translation...but it's still beautiful...and the point's WAY OLD! Thus the anachronistic sensations I'm suffering from.

"He seems an equal of the gods,
That man who sits across from you
and your sweet speaking, being near,
I can overhear.
And that seductive laugh, which sets the heart to flutter in my chest
For when I glance that way,
My words dissolve unheard.
Silence breaks my tongue and subtle fire streams beneath my skin,
I cannot see with my eyes, or hear through buzzing ears"

There's more but I'll stop...

And then there's Rumi of course! A spring chicken next to Sappho:
"She drank a cup of ruby wine and sat by my side.
Holding the lockets of her hair, my face became all eyes, and my eyes all hands"

"Sometimes I call you wine...or cup,
sunlight ricocheting off those,
or faintly immersed in sliver.
I call you trap and bait,
and the game I'm after, all
so as not to say your name."

OK not the greatest material for a pop hit but just sayin'...
this was written in the 13th century and his stuff still makes so much sense to the human heart. 
Assuming the planet survives, will they be reading Taylor Swift in the year 4010? Maybe...but I kind of doubt it.
Maybe Dylan...good chance Joni will survive another 2,000 years.
Leonard Cohen?  Yes definitely.
But that's not generally the stuff my 16 year old students are listening to.

Perhaps I was born 2,000 years too late.

photo by Brenda Ladd Photography

Speaking of times and dates:
This Friday, May 26th I'll be singing at the Elephant Room...performing original material with lyrics penned my moi.  Not exactly Rumi, but Stern circa 2017.

The Elephant Room
315 Congress Ave.
9:30 to 1:30
Suzi Stern with George "GATO" Oldziey piano and accordion, Zack Varner woodwinds, Dennis Dotson Trumpet, Alex Browne Bass, Daniel Dufour drums and Bruno Vinezof percussion.

If you're in the Austin, Texas area I hope you can join us!

Thanks for reading my blog!

Much Love,


Please check out the web site and see who will be featured on a wonderful day of concerts and workshops which are part of Lulu Music Festival which I am proud to be the assistant director of:
The festival will be held on June 3rd at Saint Edwards U Jones Hall, in Austin.
Helen Sung, Ingrid Jensen, Susanna Sharpe, Peggy Stern, Masumi Jones, Albanie Falletta, Suzi Stern, Michael Longoria, Sergios Santos, Marco Antonio Santos, Juliana Silveira, Glenn Rexach, Tonico Vanalli and more...