Monday, April 28, 2008

Measure for Measure

So it goes!
by Charlie Leck

Rosanna Cash and Joe Henry are collaborating on a song. I just read about their joint ventures on a NY Times blog called Measure for Measure. Cash, the daughter of the famous singer, from whose shadow she is trying to step, is an extremely talented woman and this song has a lovely touch. I can't wait for them to finish it. If you want to hear Joe Henry sing it in its prenatal form, click here. I kind of urge you to read the blog, too; for it's enjoyable to get in on the construction of a song from the bottom up.

I've tried this blog a number of times. Occasionally it's way above my head. Then again, occasionally I feel as if someone broke into my brain and taught me in a new way. That was true on this particular morning. Cash gave the blog this specific title: "So it goes! How it went!"

It's fun to get in on the collaboration. Cash publishes their email communications on the song and the suggestions they send back and forth to one another. We get to witness the evolution of the song and see it get progressively stronger, until we see it take its first tottering steps and then it begins to dance gracefully. Here's an example of Joe Henry's remarks to Cash:

"still playing with this some, as i really like the shape and feel. one thing i find i like sometimes -and think it might work here- is to create a form of 2 verses, a bridge, then a 3rd verse; have an instrumental break, and then sing a variation of the 3rd verse over a repeated bridge form; then conclude with a final verse. did i describe that right? what it does is puts a different spin on a particularly pivotal verse…makes it like a hinge in the song…allows something important to repeat and still be heard as an evolving thought."
Here's a verse I particularly liked. It returned me immediately to Kurt Vonnegut and Slaughterhouse Five, but only because that is a major base of reference for my life. I cannot hear or read the phrase, "so it goes," without it stirring up a lot of emotion for me.

"Many years pass, and so many friends
And none of us ever may pass this way again
The last of us standing the first one who knows—
So it goes, so it goes
So it goes, so it goes"
That verse is near the conclusion of the song. It rings so true for me – probably for everyone who looks back in life. It's a universal experience – that looking back stuff! I find myself doing an awful lot of it these days. So it goes!

Reader Suggestion
Within ten minutes of this blog getting posted, a reader in Europe responded and suggested I go to You Tube to listen to and watch Joe Klein perform "God Only Knows!" I did and it was lovely. So, the suggestion gets passed along to you.

"God only knows what we can do,
No more or less than he'll allow.
For God only knows that we mean well
And God knows that we just don't know how."

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