Jam Session —  History Rhymes:  Black Lives Lost, PT. 4

Jam Session — History Rhymes: Black Lives Lost, PT. 4

When we asked Cornelius Eady about Black History Month, he responded by sending us a cycle of songs / poems. Eight in all, Eady named the cycle “History Rhymes,” after the famous Mark Twain quote, “History never repeats itself, but it rhymes.”

Performed by the Cornelius Eady Trio, this cycle commemorates the injustices and wrongful deaths of many Black Americans. Riff has shared CE Trio’s songs dedicated to Emmett Till, Korynn Gaines, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, many others unfairly incarcerated, and millions ignored and forgotten by America looking the other way. Today’s post, “Turpentine,” looks at the many folks killed during the Tulsa Massacre of 1921 along “Black Wall Street.” Learn more here.

“In addition to being a major poet, Eady is among the most prolific and important contemporary American songwriters. Whether he is working with his eponymous trio, featuring top-rate guitarists Charlie Rauh and Lisa Liu, or accompanying himself on guitar or dulcimer, Eady is incessantly writing memorable songs that are tailored to our troubling times.” —  John Freeman, The Museum of Americana.

Cornelius Eady TRIO

National Book Award-winner and Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet Cornelius Eady has set his poetry to song with the Cornelius Eady Trio. Eady’s songs tell the story of passing time, the Black-American experience and the Blues in the style of Folk & Americana music. Guitarists Charlie Rauh and Lisa Liu join Eady to create layered and graceful arrangements to bolster Eady’s adept craftsmanship as a songwriter, lyricist, and poet. Cornelius Eady Trio has performed at Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, AWP Conference, Peabody Essex Museum, and Hill-Stead Museum and recorded at Sun Studio in Memphis, TN.

Cornelius Eady so well captures the spirit of RIFF–and especially the topic of “Jam Session”–taking us beyond poetry, beyond music, and into that hallowed place of meaning.

(Eady’s music is) in the vein of Taj Mahal when he’s at his metaphysical best, Keb’ Mo’ when he’s most squarely located at the crossroads of tradition and innovation, or Eric Bibb when he’s at his most soulfully transcendent.” — Joe Francis Doerr

Says Cornelius Eady:

“on old maps, all of the places left unexplored were often marked as ‘parts unknown’ (or ‘here be monsters’). A song for a year [2020] where the term ‘Never seen this before’ has been said far too often…”

Turpentine

Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

 

I could see planes
Circling in mid-air
They hummed, darted
And dipped low

I could hear something
Falling down like hail
Falling down on the roofs

The sidewalks were burning
With Turpentine balls
The sidewalks were burning
With Turpentine balls

Down East Archer St
The Old Mid-way Hotel
Was burning,
Burning from its top

I saw a dozen planes
Maybe more
Darting here and there
Like a crazy flock of birds

The sidewalks were burning
With Turpentine balls
The sidewalks were burning
With Turpentine balls

The flames rose and
Licked its lips
Black Tulsa
Burned down from the top

Greenwood folks was running
With a hell hound on its trail
Had a bark like a
Tommy gun

The sidewalks were burning
With Turpentine balls
The sidewalks were burning
With Turpentine balls

Here’s a postcard
Of a black corpse on fire
Of a black church
Charred to
Pennies.

Black folk shouldn’t get rich
Shouldn’t talk back
Shouldn’t brush
A white woman’s hand

The sidewalks were burning
With Turpentine balls
The sidewalks were burning
With Turpentine balls

I could see planes
Circling in mid air
I knew too well
Where they came from

I wondered, where is the fire dept ?
Why won’t they let the Red Cross in?
Why are the cops standing
With the mob?

The sidewalks were burning
With Turpentine balls
The sidewalks were burning
With Turpentine balls
I paused and waited
For a chance to run
As flames around me
Belched and roared

The planes kept raining
Greenwood straight to hell
And hell was icy cold.

The sidewalks were burning
With Turpentine balls
The sidewalks were burning
With Turpentine balls.

 

Listen to “turpentine” here.

Twilig(so

parts unknown

 Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

 

Parts Unknown, People
Parts Unknown
Parts Unknown, People
Parts Unknown.
Hey

Hide yourself
‘hind the Misery Tree.
Milishy man looking
For you and me.

Parts Unknown, People
Parts Unknown
Parts Unknown, People
Parts Unknown.
Hey

Like a poem
That can’t find a rhyme
Like a murder
That ain’t a crime

Parts Unknown, People
Parts Unknown
Parts Unknown, People
Parts Unknown.
Hey

President called up his Goons
Said their time
Is coming soon

Parts Unknown, People
Parts Unknown
Parts Unknown, People
Parts Unknown.
Hey

Up jumped Karen to
Call the Police
Shoot the protestors
Give ‘em peace

Parts Unknown, People
Parts Unknown
Parts Unknown, People
Parts Unknown.
Hey

Hush now, baby,
Hear that sound?
New Jim Crow flying
From Town to town

Parts Unknown, People
Parts Unknown
Parts Unknown, People
Parts Unknown.
Hey

Virus come
To sweep you away
Boss man says
That’s OK.

Parts Unknown, People
Parts Unknown
Parts Unknown, People
Parts Unknown.
Hey

Meet me by
The misery tree
Wave good bye
To what used to be

Parts Unknown, People
Parts Unknown
Parts Unknown, People
Parts Unknown.
Hey

 

Listen to “parts unknown” here.

 

Cornelius Eady Trio

Cornelius Eady: Vocal;

Charlie Rauh: Acoustic Guitar & Electric Bass;

Lisa Liu: Electric Piano & Guitar.

Arranged by Rauh & Liu.

“Turpentine” — Engineer & Mix: Tom Gardner.

“Parts Unknown” mixed by Charlie Rau.

 

Words and Music: Cornelius Eady 

Jam Session —  History Rhymes:  Black Lives Lost, PT. 3

Jam Session — History Rhymes: Black Lives Lost, PT. 3

When we asked Cornelius Eady about Black History Month, he responded by sending us a cycle of songs / poems. Eight in all, Eady named the cycle “History Rhymes,” after the famous Mark Twain quote, “History never repeats itself, but it rhymes.”

Performed by the Cornelius Eady Trio, this cycle commemorates the injustices and wrongful deaths of many Black Americans. We have been sharing two a week the entire month of February. This, our third installment, begins with a song dedicated to the memory of Sandra Bland; the second recalls the “scary,” but transformational year of 2020 in America.

“In addition to being a major poet, Eady is among the most prolific and important contemporary American songwriters. Whether he is working with his eponymous trio, featuring top-rate guitarists Charlie Rauh and Lisa Liu, or accompanying himself on guitar or dulcimer, Eady is incessantly writing memorable songs that are tailored to our troubling times.” —  John Freeman, The Museum of Americana.

Cornelius Eady TRIO

National Book Award-winner and Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet Cornelius Eady has set his poetry to song with the Cornelius Eady Trio. Eady’s songs tell the story of passing time, the Black-American experience and the Blues in the style of Folk & Americana music. Guitarists Charlie Rauh and Lisa Liu join Eady to create layered and graceful arrangements to bolster Eady’s adept craftsmanship as a songwriter, lyricist, and poet. Cornelius Eady Trio has performed at Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, AWP Conference, Peabody Essex Museum, and Hill-Stead Museum and recorded at Sun Studio in Memphis, TN.

Cornelius Eady so well captures the spirit of RIFF–and especially the topic of “Jam Session”–taking us beyond poetry, beyond music, and into that hallowed place of meaning.

(Eady’s music is) in the vein of Taj Mahal when he’s at his metaphysical best, Keb’ Mo’ when he’s most squarely located at the crossroads of tradition and innovation, or Eric Bibb when he’s at his most soulfully transcendent.” — Joe Francis Doerr  

Says Cornelius Eady:

“[Haint is] A re-recording of a single first recorded with Rough Magic. Sandra Bland, a black woman, was stopped for a broken tail light in Texas. She died three days later, hanged in her cell. She was arrested for asking ‘Why should I?’ when the cop ordered her to put out her cigarette while still sitting in her car. Another cop, commenting on the story on a cable news show, said while the story was sad, her arrest was justified, since talking back to the cop proved she was arrogant.”

      Learn more about Sandra Bland here. 

“Walt Whitman was lying on his sick bed in Camden, NJ, and a biographer, about to leave, and noticing this hoped he’d be feeling better soon. Whitman replied, ‘It is clouded now, hopefully, it’ll pass by.’ A good way, I think, to wind up 2020, a very scary year.”

Haint  (TRIO VERSION)

Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

 

 

I got this ache in my heart

The state of Texas is my host

I got this hole in my soul

The State of Texas made me a ghost

 

And my ghost howls

Woe

 

Now I’m a wandering spirit

My body swings in my cell

When they cut this poor gal down

Who’ll know how I got here?

 

And my ghost howls

Woe

 

Maybe I died by my own hand

Maybe I died by hands unknown

Maybe I was dead

The moment I talked back

Maybe I was dead

‘fore I was born

 

And my ghost howls

Woe

 

Damn the cop

Who damned my black skin

Damn the judge

Who agreed with him

My name’s Sandra Bland

I should be alive

Sass back in Texas

You commit “suicide”

 

And my ghost howls

Woe.

  

Listen to “Haint” here.

Twilig(so

It’ll Pass By

 Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

 

 “It is clouded now, possibly, it’ll pass by”

                        -Walt Whitman’s last words

                         To biographer Sadakichi Hartmann

 

 

It’s clouded now, but it’ll pass by

All those years

All that blood and tears

It’s clouded now, but it’ll pass by

 

You think you’re down

You’re tougher than the dirt

You think you’re out

You’re stronger than the hurt.

 

You think you’re lost

But your feet’s on the ground

That fog they taught you

Won’t stick around

 

Tried to shoot you down

The buckshot missed your wing

They ain’t got nothing

Can stop the song you sing

 

Hey, America

We’re waiting on you

Say, America

What you gonna do?

 

All those years

All that blood and tears.

 

 

 

Listen to “It’ll Pass by” here.

 

Cornelius Eady Trio

Cornelius Eady: Vocal;

Charlie Rauh: Acoustic Guitar, Electric Bass, Drums, & Percussion;

Lisa Liu: Electric Piano, Electric Organ, Elect & Acoustic Guitar;

Concetta Abbate: Violin.

Arranged by Rauh & Liu.

“Haint” mixed by Charlie Rauh and Lisa Liu. 

Concetta Abbate, String Arrangement.

“It’ll Pass By” mixed by Lisa Liu.

Words and Music: Cornelius Eady 

Jam Session —  History Rhymes:  Black Lives Lost, PT. 2

Jam Session — History Rhymes: Black Lives Lost, PT. 2

When we asked Cornelius Eady about Black History Month, he responded by sending us a cycle of songs / poems. Eight in all, Eady named the cycle “History Rhymes,” after the famous Mark Twain quote, “History never repeats itself, but it rhymes.”

Performed by the Cornelius Eady Trio, this cycle commemorates the injustices and wrongful deaths of many Black Americans. We will share two a week over the month of February. This is our second installment.

“In addition to being a major poet, Eady is among the most prolific and important contemporary American songwriters. Whether he is working with his eponymous trio, featuring top-rate guitarists Charlie Rauh and Lisa Liu, or accompanying himself on guitar or dulcimer, Eady is incessantly writing memorable songs that are tailored to our troubling times.” —  John Freeman, The Museum of Americana.

Cornelius Eady TRIO

National Book Award-winner and Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet Cornelius Eady has set his poetry to song with the Cornelius Eady Trio. Eady’s songs tell the story of passing time, the Black-American experience and the Blues in the style of Folk & Americana music. Guitarists Charlie Rauh and Lisa Liu join Eady to create layered and graceful arrangements to bolster Eady’s adept craftsmanship as a songwriter, lyricist, and poet. Cornelius Eady Trio has performed at Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, AWP Conference, Peabody Essex Museum, and Hill-Stead Museum and recorded at Sun Studio in Memphis, TN.

Cornelius Eady so well captures the spirit of RIFF–and especially the topic of “Jam Session”–taking us beyond poetry, beyond music, and into that hallowed place of meaning.

(Eady’s music is) in the vein of Taj Mahal when he’s at his metaphysical best, Keb’ Mo’ when he’s most squarely located at the crossroads of tradition and innovation, or Eric Bibb when he’s at his most soulfully transcendent.” — Joe Francis Doerr

Says Cornelius Eady:

“[‘TWILIGHT IS THE HOUR’ is] A re-recording of a song first recorded by my old band, Rough Magic. Soon after Trayvon’s murder I attended a poetry reading in Bryant Park; all the poets who read there had a poem about him, or the world that allowed this to happen. It was dusk, and the slow glow of the mercury lamps reminded me of fireflies . . . “

(Read the tragic story of Trayvon Martin’s shooting here.)

About ‘Razor Blade’: “A song that started out as my version of a prison work song, until we found out Lisa Liu once spent a summer playing keyboards in a funk band . . . “

Twilight Is The Hour

Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

 

The lamps in Bryant Park glow like fireflies

Duende floats under the trees.

A group of poets sing the blues

To fill in the space where you ought to be

 

Twilight is the hour of the Motherless Child

Another man gone, gone down that lonesome mile.

Twilight is the hour.

 

There’s a tongue we use to let things go

There’s a song that we shake at danger.

There’s a way to wash a body down,

Even if he’s a stranger.

 

Twilight is the hour of the Motherless Child

Another man gone, gone down that lonesome mile

Twilight is the hour.

 

There are words we use to follow a hearse,

A prayer to un-jumble the mad universe.

The poets breathe Trayvon into the wind.

It could happen to you like it happened to him.

 

 It could happen to you like it happened to him.

Listen to “Twilight is the hour” here.

Twilig(so

Razor Blade 

 Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

 

Capt. tossed me in a box car

Filled it with razor blades

Capt. locked me in a box car

Filled with razor blades

Walked out the next morning

 With a trim and a shave.

 

 Capt. took the fever blanket

 Laid out my dying bed

 Capt. took the fever blanket

 Laid out my dying bed

 Looked so disappointed

 When I raised my vaccinated head.

 

 Nothing ever seem to go

 The Capt.’s way

 Nothing ever seem to go

 The Capt.’s way

 Every time he close the book

 I write another page.

 

Please don’t tell the Capt.

He ain’t ever gonna win

Please don’t tell the Capt.

He ain’t ever gonna win

 

Gets tall as a wall

Look at him fall in the wind.

 

 

 

Listen to “Razor blade” here.

 

Cornelius Eady Trio

Cornelius Eady: Vocal;

Charlie Rauh: Acoustic Guitar & Electric Bass;

Lisa Liu: Electric Piano & Guitar.

Arranged by Rauh & Liu.

“Twilight is the Hour” mixed by Charlie Rauh.

“Razor Blade” mixed by Lisa Liu.

Words and Music: Cornelius Eady 

Jam Session —  History Rhymes:  Black Lives Lost, PT. 1

Jam Session — History Rhymes: Black Lives Lost, PT. 1

When we asked Cornelius Eady about Black History Month, he responded by sending us a cycle of songs / poems. Eight in all, Eady named the cycle “History Rhymes,” after the famous Mark Twain quote, “History never repeats itself, but it rhymes.”

Performed by the Cornelius Eady Trio, this cycle commemorates the injustices and wrongful deaths of many Black Americans. We will share two a week over the month of February.

Cornelius Eady TRIO

National Book Award-winner and Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet Cornelius Eady has set his poetry to song with the Cornelius Eady Trio. Eady’s songs tell the story of passing time, the Black-American experience and the Blues in the style of Folk & Americana music. Guitarists Charlie Rauh and Lisa Liu join Eady to create layered and graceful arrangements to bolster Eady’s adept craftsmanship as a songwriter, lyricist, and poet. Cornelius Eady Trio has performed at Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, AWP Conference, Peabody Essex Museum, and Hill-Stead Museum and recorded at Sun Studio in Memphis, TN.

Cornelius Eady so well captures the spirit of RIFF–and especially the topic of “Jam Session”–taking us beyond poetry, beyond music, and into that hallowed place of meaning.

(Eady’s music is) in the vein of Taj Mahal when he’s at his metaphysical best, Keb’ Mo’ when he’s most squarely located at the crossroads of tradition and innovation, or Eric Bibb when he’s at his most soulfully transcendent.” — Joe Francis Doerr

As Cornelius says, the first song, “Mississippi Summer,” came into being as “An imagining of the last car ride of Emmett TilL.” 

(Read the tragic story of Emmett Till’s murder here.)

The next song, “The dead mother,” is dedicated to korryn gaines.

(Read about the shooting of korryn gaines and her son in her home here.)

MISSISSIPPI SUMMER

Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

 

You don’t think it’ll happen

til it happens to you.

You thought what you said meant nothin,

But those tires are comin’ for you.

Mississippi Summer

Chicago boy wakes up in surprise

Mississippi Summer

Now you’re the apple of these old boys eyes.

 

This is the way we make a point

This is how a point gets made

They pull you out a nice, warm bed

And toss you in a watery grave.

Mississippi Summer

They’ve been searching for you for days

Mississippi Summer

Cash you out as the debt gets paid.

 

Now they got you in

The back of the car

They’re laughing and you know you’re the joke

Won’t stop as you start to cry

Won’t stop as your bones get broke

Mississippi Summer

One-way trip under a murderous sky

Mississippi Summer

Rattler’s hunt and the hoot owls fly.

 

This is the way we make a point

When a White gal takes offense

Dirty Negro thinks he’s white

Dirty Negro ain’t got no sense

Mississippi Summer

Emmitt Till won’t see the sun

Mississippi Summer

On the bus to see the way things’ done.

 

Headlights spears on an empty road

Whiskey and hate on their breath

How many miles til the deal goes down?

How many minutes til a dead boy drowns?

Mississippi Summer

Off to meet

Who you’re ’posed to be

The last Mississippi Summer

In D-I-X-I-E.


Listen to “Mississippi Summer” here.

The Dead Mother

 Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

 

They shot me

For a question

While I held

My child

 

Like a dog

That you put down

When she barks

Too wild

 

My black skin

Was resisting

In a cop’s mad eye

 

They shot me

For impatience

While I held my kid

 

Like a monster

From a swamp

Rising from the Id

 

Surrounded

Defiant

Look at what they did

 

My soul and

Gunpowder

Rising in the air

 

My assumptions

And my boy

Lying wounded there

 

My black skin

Was poison

Was a losing hand

 

Oh people

Good people

See what they have done

 

Smashed my home

And took my breath

And stole me from my son

 

Took my name

And misspelled it

As the crazy one

 

Bring a sharp axe

To the mountain

Tear that mountain down

 

Scream my name out

Like a siren

Though every street in town

 

Don’t bury me

Plant my story

Like a seed in the ground. 

 

Listen to “The Dead Mother” here.

Cornelius Eady Trio

Cornelius Eady: Vocal;

Charlie Rauh: Acoustic Guitar & Electric Bass;

Lisa Liu: Electric Piano & Guitar.

Arranged by Rauh & Liu.

Mixed by Charlie Rauh.

Words and Music: Cornelius Eady 

Jam Session: 2020 NYE with the Cornelius Eady Trio

Jam Session: 2020 NYE with the Cornelius Eady Trio

Cornelius Eady offered this wonderful piece to RIFF just before Thanksgiving. Happily, we share it now as we look back and also forward. Many of us found 2020 to be a trying year, and, yet, as we move into 2021, even with “sharks circling the raft,” we still have a lot for which to be thankful. Challenges always force us to grow, whether we want to or not. The poetry of this song brings so much to heart, opening us to a New Year with readiness to face the future.

National Book Award-winner and Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet Cornelius Eady has set his poetry to song with the Cornelius Eady Trio. Eady’s songs tell the story of passing time, the Black-American experience and the Blues in the style of Folk & Americana music. Guitarists Charlie Rauh and Lisa Liu join Eady to create layered and graceful arrangements to bolster Eady’s adept craftsmanship as a songwriter, lyricist, and poet. Cornelius Eady Trio has performed at Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, AWP Conference, Peabody Essex Museum, and Hill-Stead Museum and recorded at Sun Studio in Memphis, TN.

How to be Thankful

I had read once, in some dim interview, a long time ago, that Bob Dylan had written one of his great early songs, either “Masters of War” or “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall,” in a hurry.  This was around 1963 or 64, the Cold War was heating up in real fast, and that was impacting his writing: get it done now, or you might not have another chance.

Maybe I got the details wrong, but I do remember the urgency of his answer, and this song of mine, “Thanks,” was probably written from the same sense of the days ticking down towards something unpleasant, in this case, the Corona virus.

This was at the height of the first round; in the Spring of 2020, when the beds in New York were filling up, the refrigerator trucks were pulling up at the hospital loading docks for the overflow of bodies, the streets were bare, terms like “rush hour” were almost quaint, and everyone was guessing and mainly getting it wrong; you didn’t need to wear a mask: you did need to wear a mask; it was only sweeping away the old like a Darwin Broom; it was plucking kids from the rest of their youth.

What I noticed at a certain point was the arrival of text and phone calls from people I hadn’t seen for a long while—just to hear your voice, just to catch up, just to know if you were still vertical.

And it occurred to me, for the first time—our apartment in New York is only a mile or so away from the World Trade Center—that this might be something that could drift quietly into our door and lives, and detonate everything. “Thanks” was one of a series of songs I wound up calling “Pandemic Folk Song,” mainly written between mid-March and August, recorded remotely with my Folk Trio—myself, with guitarists Charlie Rauh and Lisa Liu. The first four stanzas were for my wife—just in case. The others are for what came through the phone and WiFi.

As Joni Mitchell (and William Bell) wrote, you don’t (miss) know what you’ve got (your water) till (the well) it’s gone (runs dry). Or as Woody Guthrie wrote as the dust bowl rolled towards your town like an angry, drunken fist, it’s probably good manners to turn to the person you’re about to die with and say, “So long, it’s been good to know you.” Just so they won’t leave this world wondering.

 

Thanks

        Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

 

If we don’t make it out of this one,

If the clouds burst and sweeps us away

If the game gets called on count of darkness

And the clocks run down today

 

If it’s high noon at the honeymoon

If sooner or later is here

In case it was missed between our kiss

Or said out of shout of your ears

 

Thank you, baby

Thank you friend

Some things come and go

Some things never end

 

It’s the bottom of the ninth

And two men out,

The sharks are circling the raft,

Me and you, we had a good ol’ time

We put some pins on the map

 

So if the Devil is calling the tune

And world is learning the dance,

A tip to the hand that pulled me along

When the odds weren’t even a chance

 

Thank you baby

Thank you, friend

Some things come and go

Some things never end

 

The cold flames that still hold a spark

The errors and regrets

The pal that grew up away from your eyes,

The grown up you never met.

 

The restless souls you could not hold

But left a spark in you,

The wonder ifs, and Auld Lang Syne

Time to get a message through:

Thank you baby,

Thank you, friend

Some things come and go

Some things never end

 

The phone rings, the text bell dings

It’s old so-and so

You haven’t seen hide nor hair

For 30 years

They just have to let you know.

 

A long-distance toast before we’re a ghost

Before things turn severe

If you die before they wake

They just have to make it clear:

 

Thank you, baby,

Thank you, friend

Some things come and go

Some things never end.

Listen to  THANKS here

CE: Vocal; Charlie Rauh & Lisa Liu: Acoustic Guitars; Erik Alvar; Electric Bass. Arranged by Rauh & Liu. Mixed by Lisa Liu.