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

by | Feb 26, 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. 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 

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.

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