It Don't Mean A Thing: The Blues Mask of Modernism
by Kevin Young
"The blues contain multitudes. Among the last mysteries, blues music resists not only sentimentality, but also easy summary."
Words and Music: Three Stories
by Wyn Cooper
"Much of the power of poetry, which began as song, is found in its sounds, whether hard or soft, vowel or consonant, whisper or wail."
Kenneth Patchen: Ringing the Changes
"Patchen termed his work 'poetry-jazz' and not 'poetry and jazz' because he believed in the complete fusion of the two mediums."
Ned Rorem: The Contentious Union of Music and Literature
"A song is a bastard," Ned Rorem said in 1998. "It is uniting two art forms that did not ask to be forced together."
Robert Creeley & Steve Swallow: Poetic Collaborations
"The innate ability of Creeley's verse to match jazz rhythms is no surprise, since jazz, especially bebop, with its improvisational riffs, has long influenced Creeley’s poetry."
Aaron Copland: Capturing the Language of Emily Dickinson
"The poems themselves gave Copland direction, one that he hoped would be appropriate to Dickinson’s lyrical expressive language."
Steve Reich & William Carlos Williams: Finding a Form
"Largely concerned with the issue of nuclear warfare—which Reich sees as a concern in Williams’s poems of that time—the composition takes place in a sort of desert of the mind."
Benjamin Britten: Poetry, Politics, and Sound
"But Britten’s most celebrated melding of poetry and music was the large-scale composition of six movements, War Requiem, performed in 1962."
The Rake's Progress: Stravinsky, Auden, and a Tale of Debauchery
"Auden’s love of opera, which he famously called 'the last refuge of the High Style,' was rooted in the freedom from 'modernist irony' it offered."
John Cage: The Roaring Silence
"In 1952, pianist David Tudor entered a performance hall in Woodstock, NY, lifted the piano lid and sat down for four minutes and thirty-three seconds without playing a single note."
Langston Hughes: The Weary Blues
“'I tried to write poems like the songs they sang on Seventh Street,' Hughes said of his verse."
J. D. McClatchy: In the Service of Music
"Opera is a kind of poster art. It deals in big emotion. You have a singer belting out these words over a 100-piece orchestra to people who have had two drinks and are wearing tight-fitting clothes."
Joy Harjo: A Mountain of Sorrows, of Songs
"A member of the Muskogee nation, Harjo began writing poems as her political understanding deepened and she realized there was a need for singers and speakers in her community."
Kenneth Rexroth: Poetry Wedded to Jazz
"It takes the poet out of the bookish, academic world and forces him to compete with ‘acrobats, trained dogs, and Singer’s Midgets,’ as they used to say in the days of vaudeville."
Amiri Baraka & New York Art Quartet: Black Dada Nihilismus
The song sparked instant controversy for its violent imagery and what the New York Times described as Baraka’s call for black revolutionaries to rape and murder in the service of liberation."
Sekou Sundiata: Defying Labels
"It's damn near impossible to understand what contemporary black poets are doing without understanding what's going on with black music."
Bob Kaufman: The Enigmatic Beat Poet
"Remembrances, essays, and tributes by and about the man credited with coining the term 'beatnik' are scattershot through Beat histories and memoirs."
Leonard Cohen: Poet, Novelist, Musician
"At McGill University, in his hometown of Montreal, Cohen discovered a local 'boho-literary' haven for young poets, and there he penned his first poems."
Lyric Impression, Muscle Memory, Emily, and the Jack of Hearts
by Claudia Emerson
"Songs are, for the most part, obviously different from a great number of poems because songs are blatantly physical, meant to be heard."
Saul Williams: Dreadlocked Dervish of Words
"A leading voice on the spoken-word scene, Saul Williams began astonishing open mic audiences with his impassioned tongue-twisting verse in the mid-1990s."
Jackson Mac Low: The Music of Chance
"Mac Low wanted to lessen (or even vainly to try to do away with) the hegemony of the ego of the artist in the making of the artwork."
Issac Watts & Emily Dickinson: Inherited Meter
"When threatened with a whipping for annoying his family by talking in rhyme, Watts called out, 'O father, do some pity take/ And I will no more verses make.'"
The "Big Music" of the Waterboys: Song, Revelry, and Celebration
"Influenced by Celtic music, the Waterboys released Fisherman’s Blues, which contains their most famous poetic rendition, a recording of Yeats’s 'The Stolen Child.'"
Carl Sandburg: Teaching America Its Songs
"The recitation of his own poetry combined with his performance of popular folk songs in Sandburg's imitable baritone voice attracted eager crowds."
Bob Dylan: "I'm a poet, and I know it"
"Anything I can sing, I call a song. Anything I can't sing, I call a poem."
David Berman: Poems, Songs, and Psychedelic Soap Operas
"On the reception of his music and poems, Berman said that each is taken a little less seriously because each field just thinks he's moonlighting in it."
Woody Guthrie: Poet of the People
"I ain't a writer," Woody Guthrie once wrote, "I want that understood. I'm just a little one-cylinder guitar picker."
David Broza: Making the Music the Poem Wants
"In twenty-three albums spanning twenty-five years, collaboration with poets has been a mainstay of Broza’s career."
James Merrill: The Spellbinding Musical Line
"Merrill speculated that it was the emotional expression in opera, without any apparent attention to the words themselves, which inspired his interest in the form."
Wyn Cooper: A Serendipitous Career
"The song 'All I Wanna Do,' with a few minor changes to Cooper's original poem, was released as the third single on Sheryl Crow's debut album, Tuesday Night Music Club. It was an instant hit."
Quincy Troupe & Miles Davis: Fate in a Fish Joint
"It was by way of eavesdropping that Troupe discovered Miles Davis on a fish-joint jukebox in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri."
Miller & Lucinda Williams: All in the Family
"While both Williamses have seen their stars rise over the past few years, the two have been working their trades, and trading their works, for decades."
Velvet Underground: The New York City Punk-Rock Poets
"Reed drew from a range of literary sources, including the New York School, the Beats and the French Symbolist poets Charles Baudelaire, Stéphane Mallarmé, and Arthur Rimbaud."
Patti Smith: The Genre-bending Gender-bender
"Smith has managed to move between music and poetry so effortlessly herself that she obliterates the distinction between the two."
Yusef Komunyakaa: An Argument Against Simplicity
"Song lyrics brought me to the power of words," Komunyakaa said, "the songs taught me to listen."
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