Sunday, March 13, 2011

Music Monday: James Wright and the Felice Brothers

Ever had those moments where your brain begins making connections that are not there--Such as your car's stereo and the windshield wipers matching up? That was the moment I had this week while reading James Wright and listening to Felice Brothers. As the connections became more and more grounded, I had to explore why I felt a strong connection existing between them.

I will start with one of my favorite Wright poems:

"Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio"

In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
Dreaming of heroes.

All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home.
Their women cluck like starved pullets,
Dying for love.

Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each other's bodies.

From The Branch Will Not Break by James Wright, published by Wesleyan University Press. Copyright © 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963 James Wright. Used with permission.

now, for "Frankie's Gun," by the Felice Brothers:

The Felice Brothers performing live at the Bearsville Theater on April 26 2008.

What beautiful chaos when they perform.

Without going too deep because I hope you can find similarities for yourself, I think a strength that should be pointed out is the environmental grounding that takes place in both the poem and the song. The reader/listener knows exactly where the speaker is from the beginning of the composition. I have always described the Felice brothers is having a layer of grit on them. As if they just walked out of a mine and coal and dirt smudges are on there face, maybe even grease under the nails. It makes them more human. That is the same feeling I get when reading James Wright as well. he gets his hands dirty, and in doing so he gains authority. As in "Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio," he too is in the stadium. His admitting to his presence give him the authority. Also both of these poem have a transcended tragic ending. That is the lift that gives the "awe" feeling.

I hope you enjoy both of these. Till next Monday.

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