All posts tagged: poetry

Lyrical Triggers & Process

Sometimes it is as simple as a title I have no control over; an inspiration that opens a floodgate of lyrics. A poignant melody combined with the title “Charlie” inspired these words: I once was young I was new we shared a kiss that’s what you do I didn’t know you’d go Charlie A tender branch on a tree will bend not break that once was me but now I am old I’m not so free My brittle heart will surely break it only takes one small mistake, I know, so….. I’m careful And if I try, I’ll be strong and I won’t cry I know, this feeling will go I’ll hold this thought in my mind of innocence, and love that’s kind of youth and truth Charlie CHARLIE ©2011 Laurie Early [Based on melody by Johannes Faber, as played on: Artram-Mantra by Fausto Ferraiuolo] The original musical piece is a tribute to the saxophonist, Charlie Mariano, but Charlie was also the name of my boyfriend when I was 13-years old. So, my lyrics reflect the contrast between taking …

April Showers of Poetry and Prose

Do I have regrets? Yes, I do. I do. I regret every lost opportunity to look towards you and to smile, (instead of looking down at my feet, or at your feet, how lame!) I should have gazed more deeply into your eyes. I should have tried to say what I feel but without words, with a glance; words were not needed. (Are they needed now?) Oh yes, I regret that I was shy. I regret thinking that you could read my mind, thinking that you understood that I could not bear to look at you. It was pure fear you would see how much you meant to me. (You mean so very much to me.) Do I have regrets? I used to say, “No.” but I realize now, that’s not true, I regret every lost opportunity with you. –Laurie Early, 2018 [Regrets] He says: “the sun doesn’t know anything, it’s just a stupid star.” I die a little inside. No poetry remains in his heart. He doesn’t realize all those “stupid stars” know everything! …

Poems for Billy Strayhorn (IV)

The technical side of this piece began when I read a songwriting book that suggested opening a set of lyrics with the word “And” (which, as we were all taught in elementary school, is NOT an acceptable way to begin a sentence.) So, just starting my poem with this word was a purposeful act of defiance in a grammatical sense, not even taking into consideration the subject of the piece which evolved into its own defiant statement. I have witnessed this violent story in many forms over my lifetime. It is never the same, yet it is always the same. These words were inspired by the melody and they flowed out of my pen and onto the page in a stream-of-consciousness way. They surprised me. Listen to Lament for an Orchid by Billy Strayhorn  – The Dutch Jazz Orchestra This song is also known as Absinthe – click this link to hear Duke Ellington And Again ©2009 Laurie Early And again, he apologizes, as he begs her, please, to give him one more chance. So, she bends, and …

London Falling

“Whither can a lover go but to the land of his beloved?” that is the quote* I blurted last month when I finally arrived at a friend’s house in London and greeted my musical mentor with a kiss on each of his cheeks. I was so relieved to finally get there! It was truly a miracle as I could barely walk. I had fractured my left ankle in an unexpected tumble less than an hour before. Yes indeed, I had fallen on some steps made slippery by the afternoon rain. I landed flat on my face. I don’t remember falling; no slow-motion-mind-racing moments to make corrections, no attempts to avoid the inevitable collision with the pavement. I did not hear any inner thoughts of, “Oh no! I am going to fall!” All I knew, all I felt, was the impact. I lay there thinking simply, “REALLY? … REALLY? …” Had I traveled across an ocean only to land on my face? I wanted to just lay there. I did NOT want to move. I wanted …

Holiday Cheesecake (Dexter Gordon Style)

The holiday celebration season is upon us! This time of year I am usually scouting the local Italian bakeries for a “Pastiera” (a ricotta cheesecake made with wheatberries) that is sometimes available around Christmas. Luckily my daughter is baking one, and I can scratch that difficult search off my “TO DO List.” So, for this month’s post, rather than dwelling on all the distressing, sad, and confusing things going on in the world, I have instead decided to write about another cheesecake; one that contains no calories at all! Here is the story of my favorite lyrics from 2016 — words I was instantly inspired to write after hearing Dexter Gordon’s tune “CHEESECAKE”. Background: In the middle of July, during a particularly stressful week, a link to “Cheesecake” arrived as an unexpected IM, instant message. What a joy! It exudes such an upbeat, positive energy. I was so grateful to receive it. (Thank you to the friend that sent it to me, you know who you are.) As I continued listening and thinking about what might have made Dexter call …

Dear Lord (Happy Birthday, John Coltrane)

I arrived back from Italy on Monday night; I was totally exhausted, and literally bruised, from traveling back with luggage that was far heavier than what I had brought with me. Yes, I was unwise and brought back groceries for my daughter that turned out to be very heavy. I am not sorry I packed them, but if I had to do it over again I would have taken a taxi to the train instead of pulling my bags from San Lorenzo to Termini. I tell this part of the story to set the stage for the wonderful piece of music that was waiting for me in an instant message. You see, when I arrived home I felt totally numb creatively, but then I turned my telephone back on and John Coltrane’s “Dear Lord” was waiting for me. A jazz friend “across the pond” sent it to me while I was traveling and my phone was in airplane mode. I listened and immediately in my mind I heard the opening line in words–always a wonderful surprise. I …

Poems for Billy Strayhorn (III)

In the early morning of May 31, 1967, Billy Strayhorn made his transition to another realm. In honor of him, and his musical legacy, I would like to share “Lotus Blossom”, the third poem from my series inspired by his compositions. I was deeply moved by the recording of Duke Ellington playing this piece as an impromptu tribute to Billy. I understand that it was accidently recorded after the session for Duke’s album “And His Mother Called Him Bill” was supposed to have concluded.  In the background, you can hear the other band members talking and packing up as he begins to play this intimate solo. Oh! I listened to this recording many, many, many times while I was writing the words below. You can also listen to it here: “Lotus Blossom” on YouTube*. I wanted to compose a piece where the lotus not only described how I personally feel about Billy Strayhorn, his life, the man, the artist, and how he inspires me and countless other musicians, but one that would also describe the natural life cycle of this mystical plant. It was the juxtaposition of these two metaphors that inspired …

Lorena Fontana – A Vision

A couple of years ago I was surprised and honored to get an email from Lorena asking me to review some of her original lyrics before her recording date. She is an amazing singer and composer I met in Rome in 2011. At the time I was surprised she had reached out to me because her English lyrics were so imaginative and grammatically correct (not easy for anyone, but especially when working in a second language) so I did not know how much value I could add to her work. She did not need any real corrections, but we did engage in a wonderful dialog about motivations in the lyrics and questions about certain phrases that she subsequently revised herself. It was such an exciting exchange of ideas and I am grateful to have assisted her in any way during her creative process. She thanked me in the liner notes and that was a nice little thrill to see. Lorena traveled all the way to California to record this CD and she produced a cool video about the trip entitled “The …

Rainy Afternoon

As Autumn approaches, and the storms begin to swirl off the coast of the United States, I am reminded of a particular Saturday in a September many years ago. A time when anything seemed possible, and when the rain was a wonderful excuse to stay inside, listen to music, and enjoy the company of someone important to me.

Poems for Billy Strayhorn (II)

I am in London this week!  So, of course, I am prompted to post a second poem from my series inspired by specific compositions of Billy Strayhorn, Chelsea Bridge, a London landmark. As you read, you may wish to listen to one of the sax solos that inspired me while I was writing–Ben Webster’s sensitive version of “Chelsea Bridge” on YouTube*. Chelsea Bridge ©2009 Laurie Early There’s a footpath under the Chelsea Bridge Darling, meet me there tonight I’ll be there waiting in the moonlight. We’ll go walking down by the River Thames while the boats go by you can steal a kiss memories to cling to for a lifetime. Do you remember that storm, the day we met last April, when we both ran for shelter from the rain? Our romance made London a dreamland where we’ll never be lonely again. As the river sparkles like stars so high up above I will take your hand, I will give my heart “I love you that’s forever,” this I’ll promise. This I’ll promise under the …