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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Two Songs On The Trainride To Peace

When I first heard Elly Stone sing Jacques Brel's "Marieke" so long ago, I knew I'd encountered an enigma. I was quite young and could only make out bits of Dutch, French and English but later, after I saw this clip from "Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris",[ I realized she had adapted the song to lament the loss of her childhood self, or a child, or a generation --in Flanders Fields?-- I don't know but would appreciate ideas from readers].


Elly Stone sings "Marieke"

Song 2 is one that still chokes me up a little. I was watching tv in 1969 because one of my favorite humorists, Moms Mabley, was a guest on the Griffin show. I had never heard her sing, maybe because her voice was calculated for comedy, but I heard her that night and never forgot --never will forget. I met Martin Luther King Jr. a few months before his death. Attended a welcome rally for Bobby Kennedy a month before his death. I listened to this Dick Holler song, which I'd heard on A.M. radio sung by the excellent Dion DiMucci, but it never hit home so hard until I saw this:


Moms Mabley, "Abraham, Martin, John and Bobby"

I can't add anything to these performances, only that they helped deliver us from chaos. Peace is an individual adjustment. You have to do it by yourself. Then you have to be stronger than those who prejudge others, who settle hurt upon them. Peace comes from saying, "Well, the world's gone a bit funny on me --maybe I should inquire politely what the problem is, and see what can solve it. Blasting away in all directions at populations who are nobody's enemy is certainly not the solution.  PEACE.

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Addendum: Mainly in response to Louise's very interesting comments on this post, and hopefully for the encouragement of all who read it, who may think of it while browsing a book store or perusing the internet, I asked Norma to Normaphoto a corner of our kitchen shelves --mostly reference works kept at my right hand here in the heart of the house:

31 comments:

  1. I can't add anything to those performances - my speakers are broken and the internet is silent to me. Decided to embrace the peace, on all levels. There are good people everywhere xxx

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    1. Thanks Lisa. Sorry you couldn't get audio on Moms Mabley, but I'm sure you understand, when this country needed a mother more than a decade of conspiracy, white supremacy and assassinations, MOMS was there.

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    2. I found her on my clever phone! Listening to the song right now - a performance that needs nothing further - thank you, and sending peaceable strong hugs to all in need xxx

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    3. Hugs appreciated! Moms had a rough upbringing but she knew what love is --became a national treasure.

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  2. I remember Marike and recall how it made me sad. We can never recover what is lost, but we must go on, painful as it is.

    The other day I I was listening to Abraham, Martin and John as I was driving. It is such a beautiful song and always stirs the emotions. However, watching the Moms Mabley video, those feelings went much deeper. The look on her face was so real; It was not a performanc; it was raw, it was personal.

    I worry everyday where this country is heading and what will be the future for my children and grandchildren.

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    1. Dear Arleen, so long as there are performers who can bring an unimpeachable sincerity to their craft and art, Moms Mabley's work will go on. My own dreams assure me, angels exist --even if they don't live flawless lives.

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  3. Incredibly sad and moving...both songs.....I've always loved Moms version. Brings tears to the eyes. And yes, when things seem 'not quite right' perhaps it is time to look around and see what can be done. Peace.

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    1. Delores, I totally agree. I think Elly Stone is still with us, but Moms was born in the 1890s so I imagine she's gone...No, her influence has no perceptual end.

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  4. Wow...SO powerful...this blew me away too.
    For once, I am speechless..except to say I think "Marieke" is about all those lives lost in Flanders fields - but has also evoked such recollections of losing my first-born daughter that I, too, am in floods of tears.
    Gosh, this is BEAUTIFUL.
    I will never forget...:)

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    1. Good Ygraine, indeed there are blows in life we never forget. For some, there is greater understanding and compassion; for others there is despair. We are here for some reason --I suspect it is to learn. I have just read a brief description of Moms Mabley's life and am astonished by her strength. It helps me. There is a beauty in you that helps me too.

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  5. I remember that performance. I also remember Dion singing it. He wrote it because he was absolutely crushed when Bobby Kennedy was assassinated too.

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    1. Dear Emma, Yes, there was a reflection of dangerous times in art, in music at the time and it was memorable, indelible in fact. People who worked hard to do some good were being shot at their podiums. I too appreciate those who voiced their shock to the world --whose words and images would not leave injustice alone, not ever.

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  6. I remember seeing her on Smothers Brothers not long after coming back from VN. She was funny as hell. Some of the songs reminded me of Odetta, who I saw with Cary at St. John's in Annapolis in '66. Peace....dunno Geo. I've made sure the girls have current passports and plans A & B in place to make it to BC. I'm not optimistic. I'd like to think that the better angels will win out, but we don't seem headed in that direction.
    Cheers, my friend.
    Mike

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    1. Dear Mike, you know my thoughts are with you. I too have been relieved to hear my kids have passports, but the idea of fleeing this hopeful country saddens me. I love California, but I know it would be among the first states hit by that idiot kid running N. Korea. Still, I hope his advisors repeatedly advise him that their country has only 2 months oil reserves and their only ally, China, is dependent upon the world market --i.e. no help there. They'd be nuts to start a war. But then, nuts happens.

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    2. "But then, nuts..." Yep, witness the 2016 election. I was back in 68 in the last months RFK was alive, and in hours off worked on his campaign in CA, in San Diego. I saw him from about 15 feet away hours before he went up to LA and met his fate. But, if you can call it a connection, I have one even further back than that.In '66, before heading off to SE Asia, Cary and I babysat three of their kids while they went out sailing with Cary's dad and mom, when her dad was Supe at USNA at Annapolis. They had come up for some event at the Academy, and we were a handy babysitter for a couple hours.
      Snowing all day, too warm to stick, but the mountains are getting quite a dump.

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    3. Mike, you put me in contact with some lines of an old --I think a Joe Fazio-- poem:"I am peace, love...a soft wind....calm that follows a raging storm. I am an autumn leaf that floats among the garden... I am pure white snow that softly falls upon your hand."

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  7. Both are powerful performances. I am still moved when I hear Dion's rendition.
    I am so struck by the wisdom of your words "peace is an individual adjustment."
    There is one more song I'd add to the list of those that helped deliver us from chaos, Jesse Colin Young's "Get Together."

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    1. An excellent addition, Tom. I 1st heard it on "Jefferson Airplane Takes Off" but always appreciated the care and love other artists gave to this anthem of hope.

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  8. I shook John Kennedy's hand in Jamestown, North Dakota before he was president. I heard Martin Luther King deliver a stunning speech the same day and place Dwight D. Eisenhower had delivered a stumbling talk. I think I "covered" Bobby Kennedy when he was running for President. I missed Abraham. But I LOVED Moms Mabley. What a great post, Geo.

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    1. It is good fortune that allowed us to encounter these luminaries. They are in living memory, not just old photographs and statues. They lived and tried "to do some good for you and me", as Moms Mabley so ably sang. I sure hope their influence continues unabated.

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  9. Wow! Both of these songs are stunningly beautiful. Like everyone else, I loved Moms, too, but I never heard her rendition of that song before.

    It's awesome that you met MLK in person and attended a Bobby Kennedy rally. As much as I loved JFK, I was even more enamored of the possibilities offered by his brother. After all these years, song #2 can touch on the same feeling of loss we all felt at the time.

    The first song, I don't know exactly what its intended meaning it, but it does strike the same feelings of loss.

    Great post, dude.

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    1. Thanks Susan. Glad you got to hear that song of Moms. Everybody should. As for Brel, I gather the only proviso he settled on "Marieke" was that the Dutch bits remain intact, but other singers could do what they wanted with the French parts and English additions. So meaning is variable. Originally, it lamented a love lost between Bruges and Ghent.

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  10. Thank you for sharing these two songs, Geo. I had never heard any version of the first ~ had never heard of it period. I'm not sure what Elly was singing about, since I'm abysmal with languages, but for sure it was loss. Poppies will forever be tied to the terrible losses in WW I in Flanders, especially when one is walking through a graveyard, so surely the song connects to that location. But it also seems to be more; I'm going with a child that was lost in Flanders and her mother couldn't prevent that loss or save that child, because the singer couldn't get to the ball in the surf.

    btw, I found Elly running on the rocks in heels by the drop-offs highly distracting because it was so dangerous. Heels and I don't do well, and I've climbed over many types of rocks by the ocean but would NEVER do so in any kind of heels! Actually heights, cliffs, drop-offs and I don't do well either, but over a lifetime I have overcome a lot of my fear.

    I got curious and found a translation of the original song, and it was definitely about the loss of a romantic love grounded in the Flemish countryside from Bruges and Ghent. Then I listened to it being sung by Jacques Brel, and I wondered how I didn't pick up on "Bruges and Ghent" in Stone's version. I found lyrics for her version, and I discovered they weren't in it and the English lyrics were very different. When I put the foreign language parts through Google translator, they were more or less what Brel sang in the comparable parts.

    As for Abraham, Martin & John, that song often brings me to tears, but this version by Moms Mabley, which I had never heard, is the best version I've ever heard. the music in Dion's version always seemed to dreamy and pleasant, whereas Moms' is raw and real and more appropriate for such loss through assassination. The four have always been heroes of mine. I visited John's and Bobby's graves in Arlington ~ that reduced me to tears. I like to visit the gravesites of Abraham and Martin to pay my respects sometime too.

    I've spent too much time playing around with "Marieke." I really have been procrastinating on making supper. Now Terry is scuffing around the kitchen looking woebegone. So I'm going to have to deal with dinner.

    I'm going back from BC to renew my passport, but I'm not ready to leave the US. I love my adopted country, but I am beyond distressed and embarrassed by our president. I am ashamed. So I'm increasingly politically active. First health care, and then taxes, and ... impeachment? If we don't get obliterated by a nuclear war. If there is one, it won't much matter where you are.

    Meanwhile I'll pray for peace and love.
    And patience when dealing with dinner!

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  11. Thank You, Louise for your excellent and heartfelt comment. You align yourself with distinguished company. I'll address the Pugwash Concerence: Bertrand Russell (a personal hero) had begun the conference with, "I am bringing the warning pronounced by the signatories to the notice of all the powerful Governments of the world in the earnest hope that they may agree to allow their citizens to survive. Remember your humanity, and forget the rest."

    The Russell-Einstein Manifesto called for an international conference, planned by Nehru to be held in India. This was delayed by the outbreak of the Suez Crisis. Aristotle Onassis offered to finance a meeting in Monaco, but Cyrus Eaton, a Canadian industrialist who had known Russell since 1938, offered to finance the conference in his hometown of Pugwash, Nova Scotia. The Russell–Einstein Manifesto became the Pugwash Conferences' founding charter. The first conferences was held in July 1957.

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    1. Thanks for your comment regarding the Pugwash Conference. As a Bluenoser, I am somewhat familiar with their work; but I rarely hear anything about it in the US. Of course, as a Bluenoser, I was also very proud when the conference was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for its work on nuclear disarmament.

      Cyrus Eaton, one of the organizers and funders of the first Pugwash conference in 1957, contributed a lot of support and money to Acadia University, my alma mater, (also my parents', my siblings', at least one member of each of my siblings' families, + extended family back through the generations ~ LOL)

      We all have do do the best we can in support of peace!
      Take care, my friend!

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    2. Louise, I've added a photo under the post text. I suspect we're on the the same page --thousands of pages. Peace will come if reason obtains.

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  12. A very cool post. I had not heard Moms' version of this song I've always loved the Dion version but this one is more real ... gets to the core of it, I think.

    I learned something here, as well, a bit of interesting history. "Remember your humanity and forget the rest." I hope we will one day find our way to this place and govern from it.

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    1. Thanks Teresa, it's a good hope and an achievable one if, as you say, we find our way.

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  13. Lately I have been thinking about the conflict and hateful feelings in this world and have started leaning toward this possibility: as the population rises exponentially and the young ones are making the planet smaller with their tech devices and their open, curious minds and their easy travel, perhaps in a generation or two there will be such mingling that everyone will be a bit of this and a bit of that and we will finally end up being so alike on the outside as well as the inside that there may be no more hate ... we'll have to get there in one piece as well, but I have faith that behind the scenes there are many, many good people working to contain the threats of nuclear war, environmental destruction, global warming, and on and on. I'd add "overpopulation" to the list except that may be what saves us, in this scenario . . .

    Moms' singing of that particular song is outstanding.

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    1. O_Jenny, my dear consociate, I emphatically reflect your hope. It may take more than several generations, but someday, someday we'll be uncovered --like woolly mammoths held in permafrost after a sudden freeze, with buttercups still on their tongues (this happened in Siberia!). I hope some record of our struggles survives. My greater hope is that we, all the world's populations --colors, phenotypes-- the last surviving human species (which is all of us) progress into reason and enlightenment. The Renaissance does does not have to end.

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