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May 25, 2007


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Dear Brian,

Thank you for providing a copy of these lyrics. Although the terminals here at my Library do not permit my hearing the singing of this song (nor am I likely to find such within my usual frame of experience), your action permits me to - at least - see what is the content of their words. I appreciate your action. (On the inference that you actually exist.)

Robert Paul Howard

I am happy to ruin the joke by explaining the punchline.

The truth I was referring to is the response any of us has when we listen to a song, any song, with an open heart. Any work of art will do, really. Effective communication has a balance of form and content. The Morrison song is a very simple construction, with a very complicated pay-load.

Approached intellectually, music is math, and has a predictable resonance with human emotion. That is why it is so effective in advertising. And the form is supported and amplified by the content. "Tupelo Honey" is a primer in the use of simile and metaphor. In addition, it is constructed in the present tense. And the bonus is that by listening to this man sing about a particular woman, we can extrapolate that experience into our own. The song becomes an ode to someone I love as well, but it doesn't stop there. It is any person, and all people.

The appreciation of the song requires that we accept that there is no other way to receive this particular emotional information. It is not simply the lyrics: that is a fertile field for intellectual hobgoblins. Van Morrison's style is confrontational: he is giving you the soul required to decode the miracle of this artwork. He is standing right next to you.

Back away from the torture of logical exactitude. The words are not the message, the menu is not the food, the map is not the territory. I am not saying anything that experience will not tell you for yourself.

The true part is not Van Morrison or this song, or me listening to it: the true part is that for all the under pinnings we may feel the need to assert, immediate creation is all there is. Art gives us that truth gleefully.

Dear Edward,

"...open heart...." "...art...." "giving...the soul" - my experience is that there is shit in the honeypot, even if immediately created.

Robert Paul Howard

Edward, you didn't ruin the joke. I got the punchline. Or at least, I seem to remember that I did.

I felt something when I watched the video and heard the song. Lots of somethings.

Memories of my Flower Child days, insofar as memory traces were left on my usually-stoned brain.

The lyrics? Yes, secondary to the feelings. But I can't understand the words to most songs. I enjoyed reading along while listening along.

That enjoyment was real too.

Here's another "Moment of Musical Zen" from a Portland blogger. I love Joan Osborne's expressions.

I usually don't listen to a lot of music. Two videos in two days thanks to Edward and Jack.

I'm rocking and rolling this Memorial Day weekend.

Beautiful point, Brian. Thanks.
It seems to me that this point lingers in the back alleys of our consciousness but never really reaches the lips.

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