Thursday, December 2, 2010

John Coltrane Rhythm Ballad For All by James Semark

In Loving memory of James Semark, a wonderful artist brought to my attension by John Sinclair, James's poem 'John Coltrane Rhythm Ballad for all' has been on heavy rotation throughout John's radio shows, and has become a personal favourite of mine, in particular for its Cybernetic treatment of the music of John Coltrane and his invocation of the computer and its special languages, a wonderful imagist blast of word, love, steve.

http://www.jamessemark.com/

My story --
          Although I was listening to Jon Hendricks and Eddie Jefferson since my teens, the rhythm ballad style is as different from them as the man in the moon. Here’s how it happened: during the winter of 1964-65, I had a writing studio in the basement of the “Castle,” home of the core Artists Workshop members at the time. In the basement next to me, drummer Ronnie Johnson was practicing, almost 24 x 7, so it seemed. Ronnie was a world-class, Anthony Williams style drummer and it was always a pleasure to hear him play.
          The brick basement wall was paper-thin and I could hear Ronnie’s drumming constantly, while I was writing or typing. Sometimes, we spoke to each other through the wall. Eventually, I began hearing Ronnie’s drumming in my writing, even when he wasn’t playing! This was the birth of the rhythm ballad approach, the ability to hear and express the drums playing in the language.--http://www.jamessemark.com/Poetry/RhythmBalladAnthology.htm


John Coltrane Rhythm Ballad For All (Rhythm Ballad Anthology) by James Semark

This John Coltrane rhythm ballad is for all —that's right not just for you and for me but a rhythm ballad for all —
I'm —
I'm not —
I'm not going —
I'm not going to tell you a story 'bout anybody
playing raggedy music any old
kind of nickelodeon kind of music but a super high octane grand canyon kind of music full of cornucopia rewards—
at the end of any golden rainbow baby—
So share it — don't despair it & I don't mean maybe when you hear me with my John Coltrane rhythm ballad for all —
Now all of God's children haven't been born
with a natural sense of rhythm (some of them
have not been born at all in fact) —
& most of us folk just have to scuffle to keep
from being really up tight working in
the factory all night — & now you know how we REALLY have to scuffle with all those
crazy machines going chugga chugga chugga chugga
killkill killkill killkill killkill killkill
pow er pow er pow er pow er pow er
hate— hate— hate— hate— hate— hate—
& then you go home
at the end of the day
with all that
smog in your nose & they say you got
TB (what you think I gotta rose in my toes? anyway?) & you go home
& your wife is stoned & the kids are screaming
& the landlord ain't dreaming 'bout you paying up that last month's
rent right away— & you go down to the
pawn shop hock shop any kinda loan shark & sell your
soul for a few bucks (sell your whole life away?)
How many lives you got? one shot? well it's
too bad brother wish you had more so you could
put those in hock too!

But after a while a
real mellow kinda guy comes along
& he's got a case with him —
Ain't a court case or a
mediacal case or a
suitcase or a machine
gun case he's got a
saxophone case & he's got one of those horns in there that
plays all the happy melodies that you been hearin' on
the jukebox — & he don't say too much
'cause he's been all over the street & he's got it
all up here you dig & he puts his horn together & gives that good reed a lick & McCoy sits down & Jimmy is on the stand & there's the
man from Pontiac way up in back with blast furnaces for eyes & air hammers for hands & now you know when John's got his horn in his mouth because he's
sqeezing out all the things in the world all the ghastly
factories & rusted autodumps & sewers & slaughter
houses & prisons & he's squeezing them into little spitballs & crawling things tumbling out of
the horn bell of his sax & this is
something like & this is something
like he's saying —
Computer —
computer computer —
computer computer computer prepare
to release forward launching pad —
something's gone wrong with missle number three —
Striking —
striking potential —
striking potential of 1.7 million combat divisions
can be airlifted overseas within days within
days within days one
thousand guided missles within days —

The marshalls —
the marshalls fought back —
in nineteen sixty four the
marshalls fought back against
the marshalls fought back against the test ban the
marshalls fought —
the marshalls —
the test ban —

Hello —
hello hello Zulu charlie —
with all these backups —
hello hello —
Zulu Charlie —
this is Reno with a purple dot message & high electrical whine
painted pale green with all these backups —
with all these backups inhibitors
we're like robots all the way with technical reminders & weather report
& fingerprints intelligence quotient & piss quotient
that will never face up to the guns versus butter issue —
the guns versus butter issue pale green
like robots terminal whine high weather backup
quotient marshall test ban —
Hi this is Reno marshall with a test ban message painted
yellow green piss quotient on the guns versus butter —
intelligence versus inhibitors —
computer computer striking potential —
striking potential my mamma done told me 1.7 million
that we'd be like robots —
the marshalls computer quotient test
ban launch
pad high terminal
whine —-
This John Coltrane rhythm ballad is for
all—that's right not just
for you and for me but a rhythm ballad
for all —
I'm —
I'm not —
I'm not going —
I'm not going to tell you a story 'bout anybody
playing raggedy music any old kind of nickelodeon kind
of music but a super high octane grand canyon kind of
music full of cornucopia rewards —
at the end of any golden rainbow baby —
so share it — don't despair it & I don't mean maybe when you hear me with my John Coltrane rhythm ballad for all —
that's right when you hear me with my
rhythm ballad forall —
HITTIN ON ONE —
When you hear me hear me hear me with my
rhythm ballad for all that's right you got it hear me —
John Coltrane rhythm for all ballad for ballad for ballad for
all for ballad rhythm Coltrane hear me with my John Coltrane
rhtyhm ballad for all that's right you got it —
HITTIN ON TWO & THAT'S YOUR CUE—
(Band plays The Prophet)

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thank you for reading, and for your feedback i bow