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

by | Feb 12, 2021 | 0 comments

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.


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 


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<a href="https://writersatlarge.com/riff/author/cornelius-eady/" target="_self">Cornelius Eady</a>

Cornelius Eady

CORNELIUS EADY is the author of eight books of poetry, including Hardheaded Weather: New and Selected Poems. His second book, Victims of the Latest Dance Craze, won the Lamont Prize from the Academy of American Poets in 1985; in 2001 Brutal Imagination was a finalist for the National Book Award. His work in theater includes the libretto for an opera, “Running Man,” which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1999. His play, Brutal Imagination, won Newsday’s Oppenheimer award in 2002.


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