Cover to Cover with Jack Foley

Cover to Cover with Jack Foley – October 28, 2015

On today’s show—the concluding show of the series—Alabama poet, visual artist and musician Jake Berry discusses his family’s interest in music (both his mother and father—a preacher—were musicians) and his own development as a musician growing up in Florence, Alabama (birthplace of W.C. Handy) and near-by Muscle Shoals. (“Since the 1960s [Muscle Shoals] has been known for the ‘Muscle Shoals Sound,’ as local recording studios produced hit records that shaped the history of popular music”—Wikipedia.) Presenting some of his own compositions, Berry sings “Fire in the Garden,” “Alabama Dust,” and the dreamy, apocalyptic “November”:

 

There’s a ram in the thicket

and a boy on the altar

and voices in the storm argue

which one should be slaughtered

 

There’s traffic out on the freeway

locked up in the freezing cold

and rifles up in the hills

aimed at the village below

 

There’s a cardinal in the maple tree

singing for the thaw

and a man with a knife standing at the door

whose threshold is the law

 

November, November

trembles like a woman

dying in her bed

while Orion rages across the sky

with a bullet in his chest

November, November

 

Gray doves are gathering

in the light where evening fell

and a cat on the window sill

is falling back into herself

 

Roots go clawing underground

burning for the heart

where the skulls of some forgotten race

are barking out their poison art

 

Rain pours down the gutter

The straw man crumbles in the great dissolve

shakes off his coat and falls asleep,

dreams his dust in muslin cloth

 

November, November

November goes out weeping

down into the day

I’ll see you across the river

was all she had to say

and walked away into the dark

November, November

 

*

Jake Berry on “the sweet agony of being alive”: “of being a little speck and knowing the vital importance of it, of being true to my little speck nature and living my role as part of the universe. I saw two roaches the other night, caught them fucking, locked in, in the cabinet—I felt their intense hunger to do what they were doing and I thought—yep, that’s me—I’m in the bed with my wife and it’s no more or less significant than this—then I sucked them up with the vacuum cleaner. —I loved them—I was them—but I killed them—life goes on and the world never runs out of roaches to send into my cabinet. Is this depressing?…to most people maybe—but to me it’s like being a part of a great hymn being sung—we’re all singing it full voiced to each other…You know, the sun rises, the cycle continues, you just gotta keep moving.”

Recorded in Florence, Alabama.

Part Four of Four.

 

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