Saturday, 26 November 2011

Lithe Girl, Brown Girl

Lithe girl, brown girl
Lithe girl, brown girl
Sun that makes apples, stiffens the wheat
Made your body a joy
Tongue like a red bird dancing on ivory
To stretch your arm
Sun grabs at your hair
Like water was falling
Tantalize the sun if you dare
It will leave shadows that match you
Lithe girl, brown girl
Nothing draws me towards you
The heat within you beats me home
Like the sun at high noon
Knowing these things

Perhaps through

Knowing these things

I seek you out

Listening for your voice

For the brush of your arms against wheat

For your step among poppies grown underwater

Lithe girl, brown girl

English poet, Christopher Logue CBE, is also an actor and screenwriter. Associated with Ken Russell, he wrote the script to Savage Messiah and appeared as Cardinal Richelieu in Ken’s catholic baiting 1971 film The Devils.
He was also a part of the old guard over at Private Eye magazine and edited the pretension pricking Pseuds Corner.

In London on the 29th of May 1959, Christopher recorded an EP with the Tony Kinsey Quintet called Red Bird: Jazz and Poetry. The poems were loosely based on Pablo Neruda’s “Veinte poemas de Amor” (Twenty Love Poems).

The EP is one of the most favoritest things I own. It’s joy to listen to from start to finish. Logue’s plumy diction gives a uniquely English feel to what - if it had been recorded in San Francisco at the same time, would no doubt’ve be hailed as a Beat masterpiece. 

I've uploaded it to You Tube so you too can love it too:

Here’s Charles Fox’s sleeve notes:

Europe has a long tradition of fitting poetry to music, a tradition which goes back to the choruses in Greek drama and embraces such elegant variants as the Provencal ballads. Even as late as the 17th century Herrick and Campion and Rochester wrote songs in the certain knowledge that these would, quite literally, be sung. But since then music has either gained the ascendancy over poetry (as witness the deterioration in operatic libretti between the 16th and 19th centuries) or else poetry has turned into a purely literary activity; if read aloud, then it has usually been in a gushing, over-romanticized fashion. Putting jazz and poetry together, therefore, is just one method of reasserting the old tradition.

All the items on this EP come from ‘Red Bird Dancing On Ivory’, originally broadcast in the BBC’s Third Programme during the spring of 1959, it’s music specially composed by Tony Kinsey and Bill Le Sage, the poems drawn from Christopher Logue’s ‘Songs’. Christopher Logue reads the poems in a cool, sinewy manner, his voice a companion to the trumpet and trombone, a part of the quintet’s front-line. Sometimes the words are cushioned by the music, moving to it’s rhythms; at other times they are deployed against it. Always there is interaction between the two. It is a relationship that allows the poetry and jazz each to enjoy a life of it’s own, while in juxtaposition they take on a fresh and exciting identity.

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