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

by | Feb 19, 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 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.”


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



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



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



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



Listen to “Haint” here.


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 


Recent Comments

more RIFFs to enjoy

<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.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *