Blackbird Song

when tears fall,
blackbirds fly.

I’ll know it’s you,
soaring high.

when tears fall,
they’ll never dry.

love drowns this
dying heart’s fire.

music beats in memory drops
darkness illuminated
in your fading light

demons faced, never fearing night
your words’ searing strength
coaxing dark into sight

when tears fall,
blackbirds fly.

I’ll know it’s you,
soaring goodbye.

when tears fall,
blackbirds cry.

I’ll know it’s you
singing goodbye.

when tears fall,
blackbird song dies.

I’ll know it’s you
soaring goodbye.

when tears fall, 
they’ll someday dry.

but only after my time
in your lingering light,

on this green earth
expires

~ Emily C.

5.20.17


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Say Hello 2 Heaven

Heart needs to sing. At the memorial at KEXP yesterday, a former well-known DJ from the 90s named Riz made a touching and funny speech about his experience meeting Chris Cornell. Toward the end, he told the audience to pick a Soundgarden song and make it theirs…just not Black Hole Sun. Haha. Too late, I already did that one on harmonium. 🙂

The song that was most poignant yesterday was Chris Cornell’s acoustic version of “Say Hello 2 Heaven”, a song from his time with Temple of the Dog, the mash-up group that included members of Pearl Jam, Mother Love Bone, and Soundgarden to honor the passing of Andrew Wood of heroin addiction, former lead singer of Mother Love Bone and roommate to Chris.

Chris’ voice is truly incomparable. The tributes from fellow rock stars and musicians across the world speak wonders to his innate talent, his powerful soul, and his generous and tender spirit.

This is my version on harmonium, with a pretty hilarious cat cameo from my sweet Cotton who has just had surgery this week and is wearing a cone on her head. Girl just needed a lap.

Here are a couple version of this song from Chris. Just listen to his ethereal soul-stirring voice. The man forced you to stop and pay attention with every song he sang.  Do listen as well to his cover of Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U.  The voice. The voice. THE voice.

Videos after the lyrics:

Please, mother mercy
Take me from this place
And the long winded curses
I keep hearing in my head
Words never listen
And teachers never learn
Now I’m warm from the candle
But I feel too cold to burn
He came from an island
And he died from the street
He hurt so bad like a soul breaking
But he never said nothing to me

So say hello to heaven
So say hello to heaven


New like a baby
Lost like a prayer
The sky was your playground
But the cold ground was your bed

Poor stargazer
She’s got no tears in her eyes
Smooth like whisper
She knows that love heals all wounds with time

Now it seems like too much love
Is never enough, you better seek out
Another road ’cause this one has ended abrupt

Say hello to heaven
Say hello to heaven

I never wanted
To write these words down for you
With the pages of phrases
Of things we’ll never do
So I blow out the candle, and

I put you to bed
Since you can’t say to me
Now how the dogs broke your bone
There’s just one thing left to be said:

Say hello to heaven
Say hello to heaven

~ Chris Cornell, Temple of the Dog, Soundgarden

Goodbye, Chris.

Grief is an interesting beast; sharp and spiny, with a very soft tender center. Sitting at my favorite place, the gathering space and cafe inside KEXP radio at Seattle Center, just across the field from the Space Needle and the International Fountain; my mind struggles to process exactly where to start.

The city of Seattle is a beautiful place. It is growing rapidly, mostly due to the takeover of Amazon and other tech companies drawing the thousands of new people here for their workforces. I know the city is changing. I know that people like me, native-born Seattleites that are still living here, are getting increasingly harder to find, a rare breed, if you will.

I was a young pre-teen and teen when this city was giving birth to grunge through the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Green River, Mother Love Bone, Alice in Chains.  I was just young enough that it was an act of rebellion to go out to some of these concerts. My mother, a somewhat conservative Christian (while liberal in politics), didn’t always understand why I was rebelling into punk and grunge. I was the good little church-going girl (Although that changed as well. Being forced into religion turned me off to it once I grew into my own.) But, my room increasingly morphed from pink to black, sporting posters of my favorites.  And Soundgarden was a big one.

I believe it was 1990 when I was 13 turning 14 years-old that my brother and I were allowed to go see Soundgarden live at what was then the Coliseum, now Key Arena. This was a HUGE deal. My mom just didn’t ever “let” me do this kind of thing. I once even had to lie to her about going to an Alice Cooper concert in Oregon, somewhere about this time.

She probably felt better that I was going with my brother who swore to take care of me. Although, she wasn’t a fan of my outfit, saying I “looked like a sex pot.”  In 1990, concert going gear consisted of tube skirts and jean jackets with a tank.  I wore it anyway. Because. And no, I didn’t look like a sex pot. I looked like every other young teen concert goer.

My brother and I sat back in the seats, not far up, but not in the pit where the moshing was.  He worked hard to keep an eye on me, but I was doing fine. I think it was The Posies who opened and they were grumpy that we weren’t listening to them because we were so excited about Soundgarden. They swore at us. So punk, so grunge.

At one point in the set, Soundgarden, who at this time was still a few years away from their Superunknown album, played a song called, “Big Dumb Sex”, which repeated the phrase:

“Hey, I know what I’m gonna do // I’m gonna fuck fuck fuck fuck you //“

over and over and over.  Well, this kind of horrified my brother and he tried to plug my ears. But, to no avail. Besides, I heard the song dozens of times before. This is the freedom I came here for after all.

This will be one of the best memories I have of my brother who struggles with severe bipolar disorder to this day, the onset of which would not come until another 4 years from this concert.

Chris Cornell’s passing late Wednesday night is like losing a family member. His music spoke to the generation X youth in Seattle and the world with its dark, brooding, melodic moods, and yet…ultimately positive and strong in its message of fighting through and overcoming personal demons.  It’s no secret that Chris himself struggled deeply with addiction and depression that could have taken his life countless times.

The news this morning is that his wife is disputing the suicide claims. It seems that he talked to her after his performance with Soundgarden in Detroit saying that he “may have taken a two or three extra Ativan.” She immediately called hotel security and asked them to check on him. They did, and found his lifeless body in the bathroom. The coroner states he committed suicide via hanging.  His wife says he was slurring his words and not himself. It makes more sense that the extra Ativan could have put him in an altered state that led to him not being of clear mind, perhaps leading him to such a sad ending.  Drugs, even prescription, can be dangerous in their side effects. And from the sound of it, he was a loving family man, planning upcoming Memorial Day holidays and summer trips to Greece. It just doesn’t make sense without the Ativan playing some part.

The sadness of his fans, while deep, cannot matched the grief of his wife, his young children, his bandmates. But, having come to “know” him, and essentially grow up with him in this city, we feel this goes deep in our blood, too.

The thing is…music was different back then. The culture was different. Pre-digital abundance, we were forced to discover music the hard ways: listening to the live radio, DJs, through friends, through local paper blurbs and listings, underground night clubs…it was all active work. Now, music is highly available and accessible; people don’t have to do the footwork.  Of course, there are positives to evolution, but it is an entirely different experience for today’s youth. Back then…well, it was something that made you who you were, your identity.

Chris Cornell’s astounding 4-octave voice, could go from a smooth baritone to a soulful-scream, seemingly endless air supply, power, tender vulnerability and a love of the art of melody, a true craftsman. Not to mention his lyrics, a kind of poetry that he put into notes, striking at the heart of his fans who could identify with his struggles, his relation to the city, and ultimately, his success. The man was beautiful…seriously striking beauty, with piercing blue eyes and curly brown hair, a ripped bare chest, those camo shorts and combat boots.  The girls dreamed of him. The guys wanted to be him. He was the epitome of rockstardom, but he was grace and humility and comfort in who he was…all in one.

Born in Seattle, he is truly the voice of Seattle. Eddie Vedder is a local boy, but not born here. Yes, he defines Seattle in another way. And Kurt, local but born in Aberdeen.  Chris? Born here, went to school here.  This man was gifted with a voice that could not be denied. We were blessed to hear it, more blessed to share his city.

I spent all day yesterday downtown at the fountain under the Space Needle, and at KEXP radio station where people were gathering to grieve. I was photographed by Getty and interviewed by our local paper. My swollen ugly cry puffy face is plastered over the internet in pictures on the news today.  I want to write about that next. For now, this is the start.

And you may have noticed I haven’t written much poetry this week. My brain has said it needed some quiet, to gather thoughts, allow new words to form. And then the news of Chris has set me back a bit, obviously. But, I expect that I will find a poem escape here in the next few days or sooner. Lot of processing going on.

Thank you for your love and support.

Em


All pictures mine.

Mourning Chris


Last night I had an extremely vivid dream where I was sobbing at the death of someone who was not identified. I woke up exhausted as if I’d been crying all night.

The first thing I do is check my phone and what do I see…Chris Cornell of Soundgarden had died overnight. 

I have been in shock and bawling all day. I have a story to tell. Hopefully, tomorrow I will be able to put my feelings down and recount this surreal day in Seattle. 

We’ve lost a legend, one of if not the best rock voice in history…4 octave range. 

This city — his birthplace — and the world mourns deeply today.

And that dream…not even kidding. That’s the truth. I can hardly believe it.

***

Photo my own. I was the first to lay flowers at the fountain and at KEXP radio station today. Space Needle went dark from 9-10pm in his honor.

Kiss Me Quick

 

Kiss Me Quick ~ Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop

Kiss me quick while you still can
I’m a heart with a heavy hand
Every morning horn is a crown of thorn;
Every breath is a wedding band
You could roll your eyes
You could play for time
You could weep the sun light down
Won’t you kiss me quick while you still can;
And we’ll find a night with you

We’ll build our house in a field of gold;
And the mountains tumbling down
And blocks the road

We’ll turn each rock into a stepping stone;
And fumble around the failing stars
On the way back home

Kiss me quick while you still can
I’ll atone for the wicked truth
Every Autumn takes what the summer makes
And we will to the living proof
You could pull the tide;
Build a wall inside;
You could drift and draw like milk

Won’t you kiss me quick;
While you still you still can and
I’ll meet you inside me

Kiss me quick while you still can
Kiss me quick while you still can
Kiss me quick while you still can

Sailor to Siren

 

Sailor to Siren by Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop

 

This tenderness comes as a surprise
Drinking where the riverbed was dry
Trees in the wind trembling with love

Mad morning light drew you out the door
Mama didn’t need you anymore
She pointed at night but you saw the stars

Brace yourself and nestle into me
Bear it all like fallen autumn leaves
You don’t even know me that well

Now every blossom’s ready to explode
Rooted in the cracks along the road
The world is a dream that wiggled free

Wild distant water showed me where to run
Papa let me know I’m not enough
He took out the life and left me the hole

Are you the sailor or the siren in the tide
Trusts a tiny ocean and besides
You don’t even know me that well

Your song is warm and coming through the wall
Hearts are thrown to strangers after all
You don’t even know me that well

The Lady of Shalott

Does anyone listen to these any more or are you all sick of me? 🙂

This is for the wonderful Eric at My Sword and Shield.  I think it was a request, or did I suggest it…I can’t remember. Ah well.

I love Loreena McKennitt and this song is a beauty…and a beast. 11 minutes full length, so I had to truncate it. 🙂 This was what I could get done today.

Hope you like it! Probably one of the tougher vocal challenges I’ve had.

And Cotton had to cameo…again. Somehow I still managed.