Music as a circus or a place of revelation

I was listening to some live music last night* and one of the performers said something like here is a song about some of the monkeys in my circus. Your circus will be different but we all have monkeys.

He had me at monkeys. That is a great way to make a connection with a group. When we sing we travel just a little bit to other places and spaces in a way that is a kind of circus magic.

*Last night is probably late 2017 because this post has been in my draft folder for some time. The Sufjan song was Oct 2017. In 2019 I really don’t know what that concert was and so I googled for clues. See what I found right down the bottom of this post.

But first here are three random songs that go in different directions but all of them are tapping into a shared story. In the first one Alecia Moore (whom you may know by another name) actually fluffs her lines but it doesn’t matter. Sufjan And Michael Franti have long musical histories and they keep coming up with new songs that I like.

Many years ago I spent a couple of days in a songwriters workshop. It was good to soak in a range of ideas but at one point the writer told us his interpretation of 2001 A Space Odyssey. It was a rather long way of explaining how what things mean is what they mean and that there will be more than one way to tell a story or write a song.

And here we are again – here is a song about monkeys and circuses and it may mean something or it might be nothing at all. You choose. Until today I had never heard of Craig Cardiff but there are a fair number of Canadian songwriters that I like so it doesn’t surprise me. (FWIW My list of Canadian songwriters includes Ron Sexsmith, Bruce Cockburn, Sarah McLachlan, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. )

I looked up Craig and found out that he has a “book of truths”.

“Cardiff often passes around a notebook at his shows called a “Book of Truths”. Audience members are then asked to contribute to this notebook by writing something inside, “… a story, a confession, a hope, a secret. “The nature of performing is very egotistical,” he has said in the past. “There is one microphone and generally I get to have it for most of the time … the book just came from a place of wanting to give people an outlet to write down some of these stories.”

And what gets written in the book may well appear as part of a song. A really great song is a kind of time travelling capsule where we can be lost and found all in the same moment. Revelations and magic often share the same space.

There is a very old joke about monkeys with typewriters called infinite monkey theorem. So here we are we started with a comment about monkeys and if you are not afraid of a great song that talks about Kurt Cobain and everything then you are in the right time / space continuum.

This song written by Dan Bern who seems like another magician songwriter and sung by Craig. The first 7 minutes anyway. God Said No. Now is all we have. P.S Turns out Roger Daltrey is a fan of this song.

“I asked God
Do one thing for me
Send me back in time
Send me to Seattle
Let me go
Find Kurt Cobain
Take away his gun
Take away his bullets
Talk to him
Make him wanna live
Tell him how we love him
Help him see his glory
God Said No”…

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