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February 2014

Tunes for a Monday Morning

This week, as I settle back into family life here in Devon, some songs that explore the concept of "home"....

Above, a classic: "Hame, Hame, Hame," by the great Scottish band Silly Wizard. It comes from their 1981 album, Wild and Beautiful.

Below, "Home Again" by Michael Kiwanuka, a British musician (of Ugandan heritage) from Muswell Hill in west London (2011).

Above, "Home" by the alt folk band Mumford & Sons, also from west London (2012). It's a song that never fails to bring tears to my eyes, perhaps because I first heard it during a traumatic time when I was separated from my loved ones.

Below, singer-songwriter Gabrielle Aplin, who comes from a small village in Wiltshire, UK, sings her poignant song "Home" for BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge (2013). I love this young woman's voice, particularly in stripped-down performances like this one. (The very last part of it is particularly beautiful.) Fingers crossed that music producers don't turn Alpin into just another generic pop diva.

And to end on a lighter note:

Above, "Our House" from the North American folk rock group Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, performed live in 1974. Lordy, this one takes me back.

Below, "Home," a joyful little tune by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, who hail from Los Angeles. It comes from their 2009 album, Up From Below.

If you want a little more this morning, I recommend "N17" by Ireland's The Saw Doctors (1991), and  the "Homesickness" and "Exile" programs on Ellen Kushner's brilliant old radion show, Sound & Spirit.

Mythic beauty

Sir Edward Burne-Jones

Some stormy weather reading....

First: "The Camoflaged Woman: Celebrating Irreverent Beauty & Natural Expression" by Aleah Sato (Jane Crow Journal).  From make-up to muses, adornment to archetypes, it's a must-read for women interested in myth and mythic arts. Myth-minded men may find it of interest too.

Second: "The Long View," a short post by Karen Phelps about nature, loss, and taking the long view. (Dark Mountain, via Suzi Crockford)

Third: "What Great Artists Need: Solitude," a lovely and insightful essay by the Danish author Dorthe Nors. (The Atlantic, via Ellen Kushner)

Fourth: The extraordinary Jane Hirshfield is interviewed in "Why Write Poetry?" (Psychology Today)

Fifth: If you've been missing the "On Your Desk" series on this blog, have a look at "Day of the Desk" by artist Jackie Morris.

And last: Mark Slouka's "Nobody's Son," about the death of his father, is a beautiful thing. (The New Yorker)

Art above: A detail from "Merlin and Nimue The Beguiling of Merlin" by Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898).

Hanging with the muse

The Muse of Bumblehill has taken up her customary post on the studio couch again, and all is right with the world.

"When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete."    - Steven Pressfield (The War of Art)

Illustration by Marc Simont

I'm still recovering from recent travels and labors, so my posts will be short and simple this week. I''ll return to Myth & Moor properly on Monday.

Here are the first few lines of a prayer-poem by Nancy Wood (1936-2013), a wonderful writer from New Mexico whose work reflected her love of the desert, and her deep engagement with Pueblo Indian culture. The poem was first published in Hollering Sun (Simon & Schuster, 1972).

My brother the star, my mother the earth,
my father the sun, my sister the moon
to my life give beauty, to my body give strength,
to my work give goodness, to my house give peace


Thank you, everyone, for all your kind words and encouragement in the past few weeks.

The art above is by Marc Simont (via Midori Snyder).