Let’s pretend for a year I am sentenced on a deserted island, but I’m only allowed to bring five musical choices. What would be my playlist?
First, I would want to bring a variety of genres to satisfy my varying moods. I would be petrified! I would need to bring something calming. My chill out song would be from Röyksopp. I love this Norwegian duo. I’m certain you’ve heard “Remind Me” when you watched a Geico commercial featuring the indignant caveman at the cocktail party. “Poor Leno” is another great tune as well as “Eple”. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, try listening to Melody A.M.
1. “In Space” by Röyksopp. Ahh, much better.
Once I got past thinking some creature was going to devour me, and I had figured out a way to cook crab and ferment coconut milk, I’d have to befriend a turtle or personify something so I wasn’t alone. Then I would loosen up and feel the liberating effects of no job pressures or money issues. Finding food, clothes, and shelter would take up most of my time. However, I would want to try that fermented coconut milk and want a song to party with me, myself, and I. I’d have to bring DMB along. His songs are timeless. My God. How do I choose one? I love “#41”, “Satellite”, “Grey Street” and “So Damn Lucky”, but “Two Step” would keep me up.
2. “#41” and “Two Step” in front of a beach fire, watching the sun set. “I wanted to stay, I wanted to play.” I love the philosophy behind the lyrics. It’s one of those songs that lifts you and makes you weep as well. I’d want a sure-fire mood lifter. Something comforting from my childhood. No doubt, I would miss my loved ones. I would want something that reminds me of love in an innocent, frank way. Like playing with a brother. George was always my favorite.
3. “What is Life?” by George Harrison.
I would want something edgier, darker. Something alternative rock. When I felt raw, hungry, and I needed to be tough. What can I listen to over and over? There are so many layers to “Nice to Know You”.
4. “Nice to Know You” by Incubus.
What about the last pick? I must pick something classical. For when I’m bored. For when I need a story. A lullaby of sorts. When the night seems so long. I can close my eyes and the world unfolds. Something inspirational. Something that evokes passion and zest. Something that tells of the light and the dark of humanity. Something like “Scheherazade ” Symphonic Suite Op.35. When was the last time you listened to this in the dark?
5. “Scheherazade” by Rimsky Korsakov.
Music are stories which feed the imagination. This is the only way I’m going to exist on my deserted island for a year. Music and imagination. I’d have to find a way to write. Then I think I could make it. What would you listen to?
I created a character from 1900 who is on the run from the law. What do you think of him?
In the farthest compartment in the procession, in the dark humidity among the stalls containing a horse, a calf, and a Border collie, a colored man sat in the shadows, his head swaying to the rhythm of the train riding the rails. His head fell forward, and he wept into his calloused hands. “You sure in a pickle,” he said clumsily. Since the attack two months ago, and a part of his tongue was sliced off, his words were incoherent. He forgot, sometimes, and when he spoke aloud, he was startled at how ridiculous he sounded. Ashamed, he clammed up and avoided people as much as he could. He was growing accustomed to the stub in his mouth, and he could still hum a tune, so when he was alone, he listened to the sounds of his voice in that way. He peered at his right calf where the blood seepage on his overalls made the shape of an enlarged circle. He ripped the material in order to see the bullet wound. The blood was thick and purple, clotting over the hole. His thoughts were rapid. “Get the bullet out. You lucky the bullet missed the bone. They will be waiting for you at the next stop. Cross the border into Illinois.”
He dribbled and snorted. What to do? Casper steadied his breathing and bubbles came out of his mouth. He wiped the sweat off his face with his palm. The black and white collie sat on her haunches and stared at him, head cocked, the same way his mama used to when he had done something foolish. He thought to the dog, “Yes, I bet I look a might peculiar.” The man snickered and shook his head because he could imagine the black, petite face and alert eyes of the dog transform into his dead mother. “That white patch around its belly could be Mama’s apron, and the white spot on the head her turban.” He saw her appear, pretty and scolding and frowning and sad all wrapped up at once. “Boy, where’s your wits?” She told him, “Take care of your wife and son. Stay away from white folks, and maybe you’ll live to see your son grow up, isn’t that what I always said? You’ll be lynched before the year is out, attacking those men.” She would have wagged her head. “Gone and killed one of ‘em.” She would have held out her arms to embrace him. “Come here, boy.” Casper imagined his mother rocking him. Even though she had been dead for almost twenty years, he liked to have conversations with her like this in his head. The train mimicked his mother’s motions and the panic floated away. The respite was momentary, for soon more warnings interfered. “They’ll find you. They’ll gut you like a carp. You will never see Clementine or Petey again. You will be dead by the end of the day.” He snapped open his eyes and wondered how to save himself….
The Pre-Raphaelites Brotherhood and John Waterhouse have always been favorites of mine. Is it the intense colors and the natural world expressed with a wild, exotic realism? Is it because the characters from classical stories manifest from script into the definitive definition of Western Civilization’s concept of beauty? Is it the erotic undertones steaming out of the eyes of the femme fatale within a Victorian prim and proper world? The esthete in me is drawn to the stories in the faces. I pretend I am she and wonder about the possibilities. The contrast of languorous positions and unblemished bodies with repressed emotions sizzle in those bewitching eyes.
The mermaid positioned before a natural doorway sits on a rock. Who is she looking at? It is he!
A Mermaid, 1900
In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Miranda challenges her father, Prospero, to save the sailors. The chaste, innocent daughter looks for her mate.
Miranda–The Tempest, 1916
“Had I been any god of power, I would/Have sunk the sea within the earth or ere/It should the good ship so have swallow’d and/The fraughting souls within her.” Act I, Scene II. 10-13
Ulysses and the Sirens, 1891
Odysseus (Ulysses) orders his men to stuff their ears with wax and tie him to a mast so he can’t escape, but he can still hear the intoxicating sirens singing. They are beautiful women-birds, and men are their prey. Here is the irrepressible seduction of the female portrayed throughout time. The manipulating emasculator. Beware!
She is the daughter to the Greek god of the North Wind. The insecure, tumultuous side of love. Does he love me or not?
The Lady of Shallot, 1888
“Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And round about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.”
The famous heroine in A. L. Tennyson’s poem is about a woman looking for her Lancelot. Considering the candles and the tapestries, she prepares for a long wait. Her knight will appear. Just around the next bend. Hope! Nope. Cursed, she dies. Love is tragedy, too.
The Annunciation, 1914
Here’s Mary, who received the news from the angel Gabriel. Me? OMG! Motherly love. Unconditional.
The Crystal Ball, 1902
Is this real? Or am I dreaming? How do I know?
La Belle Dame Sans Merci, 1893
In John Keats’s poem, the elf entraps her knight and corrals him with her other conquests.
The hopeless romantic in me sees in these faces the expressions of love. The founder of the Pre-Raphelites Brotherhood was Danti Gabriel Rossetti and he dabbled from poetry to painting all his life. His sister was a fine poet and her poem below entitled, “The Birthday” captures romantic love. These are the words I imagine in Waterhouse faces. Joy, bewilderment, and despair. Waterhouse captures love on canvas better than anyone.