Gee, ever since I first heard the words "Blossom Dearie" the other day, they're coming out of the woodwork: i.e., the men and women who love her! Now one of my oldest friends in San Francisco, the poet Roberto Bedoya, writes in to contribute a poem that alludes to her, so I asked him if I could reprint it here on my blog. I didn't know she had written a song about Dusty Springfield, in which she muses, "Dusty Springfield, that's a pretty name—it even sounds like a game." If you ask me that's the pot calling the kettle black, no?
I met Roberto many years back when he was the director of Intersection, then the most important and significant reading series in San Francisco, or so I thought. Everyone wanted to read there, it was a real community platform. Recently Robin Tremblay McGaw conducted a penetrating interview with Roberto in which he sketches out those long ago days that seem like just yesterday, the birth of the New Narrative and the practical hegemony of Language writing, and much much more, at her blog, X Poetics.
Kevin was involved with Roberto before I married him, and in one of those "only in San Francisco" developments, Roberto very graciously had a reception for us after our wedding in his beautiful backyard behind his old house on Fair Oaks, and everybody came, and I wore a drop-waisted floral dress that I loved until I saw the photos.
Now here's Roberto's note on his poem:
A number of years ago I wrote a piece for an artist named Dario Robleto. He works with vinyl records turning them into objects. There was a hip-hop show in SF and a piece of Dario that I own was in it and Kevin mentioned to me how much he liked it. It was a spool and needle made out of fools gold and an unraveled 45 of Patsy Cline's "I fall to pieces" which I all to say attached is a piece I wrote for him to accompany a "black box" made out of Dusty Springfield records.
For Dario Robleto
How is it gratuitous
throw your voice
"all of me" holding time without arms
a voice opening the body
alms to the trace of the note
"asleep deep in the heart"
immortality embedded in vinyl
calling to us with songs
we are sure, we have
wishin' and hopin'
thinkin' and prayin'
at the bottom of black
Everything is rhythm. The entire destiny of man, is one heavenly rhythm,
just as every work of art is one rhythm, and everything swings from the poetizing lips of god.
All audible musical sounds is given us for the sake of harmony, which has motion akin to the orbits in our soul, and which, as anyone who makes intelligent use of the arts knows, is not to be used, as in commonly thought, to give irrational pleasure, but as a heaven-sent ally in reducing to order and harmony any disharmony in the revolutions within us
But it is precisely the idea of absolute time, without any connections to space, flowing forward at a regular speed, that permits the attribution of a vital, gentle slow rhythm - or even the complete absence of rhythm- to the primitive mind.
Rhythm does not belong to the order of nature or of language, or even of "art,” where it seems to predominate. Rhythm is not the simple alternation of Yes and No, of "giving-withholding," of presence-absence or of living-dying, producing-destroying. Rhythm, while it disengages the multiple from its missing unity, and while it appears regular and seems to govern according to a rule, threatens the rule.
- Maurice Blanchot
The composition is the thing seen by every one living in the living they are doing, they are the composing of the composition that at the time they are living is the composition of the time in which they are living. It is that that makes living a thing they are doing. Nothing else is different, of that almost any one can be certain. The time when and the time of and the time in that composition is the natural phenomena of that composition and of that perhaps every one can be certain.
If you'll only give me time
- Dusty Springfield
We are time and cannot escape its dominion. We can transfigure it but not deny it or destroy it. This is what the great artists, poets, philosophers, scientists and certain men of action have done. Love, too is an answer: because it is time and made of time, Love is at once consciousness of death and an attempt to make of the instant an eternity. All loves are ill-starred, because all are made of time, all are the fragile bond between two temporal creatures who know they are going to die. In all loves, even the most tragic, there is an instant of happiness that it is no exaggeration to call superhuman: it is a victory over time, a glimpse of the other side, of the there that is here, where nothing changes and everything that is, truly is.
- Octavio Paz
...when I talk to my friend, when I write to her, I am writing to someone whose otherness I accept. It is difference between me and my friend that allows meaning: meaning begins in difference. And it is meaning, the meaningfulness of the world, that is consciousness.
- Kathy Acker
In music or in one's voice, an echo may reenact an emotion of distant past. These rare memories may also be beauty
A heart without music is like beauty without melancholy.
when memory is unforgiving
of taciturn ghosts
wreaks havoc on the living
You got to give me some, give me some of your loving
You got to give me some of your loving
Now, I'm not a greedy girl, I don't need a world
- Dusty Springfield
There is a whole range of melancholy: it begins with a smile and a landscape and ends with the clang of a broken bell in the soul
-E. M. Cioran
How'm I gonna get through
The Soul should always stand ajar
That if the Heaven inquire
He will not be obliged to wait
Or shy of troubling Her
How'm I gonna get through
The fascinating chill that music leaves
Is Earth corroboration
Of Ecstasy's impediment-...
I'm all cried out over you
I cannot differentiate between tears and music
It was a dream come true for us when Dusty Springfield agreed to sing with us on the song "What Have I Done To Deserve This?" She hadn't recorded for several years but as soon as she arrived in the studio and began to sing we knew that the greatest female singer Britain has ever produced was still on brilliant form. Quite honestly, we were in awe of her.
Dusty was a tender, exhilarating and soulful singer, incredibly intelligent at phrasing a song, painstakingly building it up to a thrilling climax. She was also a warm and funny person.
"What do you want me to sing like?" she asked on that first day we met.
"You", we replied, and she seem quite surprised.
- Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe (Pet Shop Boys) on the death of Dusty Springfield, 3rd March 1999
Silver star shine over crystal waters
Petals fall from her glance
With a dew of morning, feathers float from her dance
From the song “Dusty Springfield” by Blossom Dearie
I got a brand new walk
A brand new smile
Since I met you baby
I got a brand new style
How does a Black Box hold
-desire rendered invisible lingering in the song
-the velocity of sadness
-the requirements of myth
this that which is given
Here's Blossom Dearie's tribute to Dusty Springfield: