Billy Barnum, actor/poet/dancer Dead at Age 94

 

I just received word from John Voigt that poet/actor/dancer Billy Barnum passed away on July 25th at the age of 94. He studied dance with Mikhail Nikolayevich Baryshnikov and mime with Marcel Marceau.  He was the best actor I ever worked with, and I wish I had filmed his brilliant performance of my adaptation of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I do have a copy of our version of Antonin Artauds To Have Done with the Judgement of God, which also features John Voigt, who initiated the project. you can see it here…

 

 

Song of the Day #32 The Undisciplined Truth

Song of the Day #32 The Undisciplined Truth, Click link to listen or receive a free download https://billwhite.bandcamp.com/tr…/the-undisciplined-truth-2

Antonioni epanded the language of cinema and the world declared a state of boredom. Dylan expanded the language of rock and roll and received a Nobel Prize. Pollock dripped paint and all American artists began to drip. Warhols first soup can dripped, and when he was told he ddnt have to drip, another border was crossed. The trick in crossing borders in the arts is to go as far as possible without falling off the wall. This is the song of someone who fell off the wall, discovering that you cannot apply a discipline to the truth, but without discipline the truth is unapproachable. The knights of the round table learned this in their quest for the grail.

You cant cross in
Until the seal is secure
Wait unti they bring
The bark of the Jambu tree
It wil seal borders
And let you cross

You can push back
The edges of the frame
Just dont let the picture
Fall off the wall

How much is too much?
How far can I go?
Can I touch your knee?
How are gonna stop me?

I dont ask questions
Because I dont ike answers
Id rather believe things that are not true
Than know the undisciplined truth about you
Men kill for love
Women kill for hate
Sodiers kill to extend
The boundaries of State

I just pushed the picture
Past the edges of the frame
Til the signature is burned
And the world forgets my name

Shakespeares Final Hour

I got hooked on Shakespeare when I was fourteen years old, after seeing Richard Burton play Hamlet.  That play has been a lifelong obsession,  Ive seen countless productions, and directed my own adaptation in 1991 at Suffolk University in Boston. Some were good, some were not, but the play survived most of its mishandlings, at least until the 21st Century, when both the Royal Shakespeare Company and Englands National Theatre started incorporating the worst tendencies of North American stagecraft.  For the last several years I have watched Shakespeare go down the toilet until now, after enduring the ultimate insult of the Benedict Cumberbatch Hamlet, I must admit we are in danger of yielding Shakespeares stage to the plebians of modern theatre. I was going to write an essay on Shakespeares final hour, but what would be the use? The only people who would read it would want to start a fight about it.  So I wrote a song instead, believing that people who listen to popular music are smarter than those who believe there is still life in the remnants of genius that are being cut to ribbons and sold in the market like the robe of Jesus Christ.

The greatest literary scholar of our time, Professor Harold Bloom of Yale University, has fought for the last 50 years to maintain the sanctity of Shakespeare, Dante, and the rest of the classical canon of Western Literature in the ever downspiraling curriculum of North American Universities. I had the plleasure once of seeing him walk off the stage of Cambridges ART during a debate with Carol Gilligan over Hedda Gabler.  He could not abide an audience that preferred her warped point of view over his classically trained mind.  So for all the work he, and his protege Camile Paglia, have done to defend the geniuses of antiquity against the mediocre minds of 20st Century  and 21st Centry Academia,   I have prefaced and epilogued this song which will conclude this group of songs written for my new album Lovestreams,  with a few words from Professor Bloom.

 

Click on this link to hear the song  https://billwhite.bandcamp.com/track/shakespeares-final-hour

Bill White introduces his new album Lovestreams, now available from Blue Tower Records

 

https://billwhite.bandcamp.com/album/lovestreams

 

Although the lyrics tend towards the regretting of lost loves, the true subject of my newest collection of songs is regret for the losing of certain modes of communication The 21st Century has seen the death of cinema, the death of political and social discourse, the death of the novel, the death of the free press, the death of theatre, the death of education, and the death of tangible recorded music.   New modes of communication are replacing the old, and the new ones may prove to be superior to the old, but for the moment, hovering in the limbo between the big band era and the band in a box, the studio system that made Hollywood the ultimate movie making factory and the digital victory of television over cinema, objective news anchors like Walter Cronkite and pseudo empathetic political shills like Anderson Cooper.  The limbo between literature and the blog, the Globe Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company, Cole Porter and the songwriting app, West Side Story and Rent,  the daily newspaper and Huffington Post,   the concept album and the downloadable single…..

 

To cite Duke Ellington as the primary influence on an album of fourteen songs written and performed by a single person singing and playing the guitar is a ridiculous claim, yet my intention with these songs was to express my own thoughts and feelings in a musical language that  is part of my inheritance as a human being in the 21st Century,  I am not trying to ape the style and substance of the American Songbook,  any more than I am imitating the English dictionary when I write my lyrics in the English language, but I am inhaling the past and exhaling the present.   Just because I carry an acoustic guitar doesnt mean I am one of Pete Seegers children. And just because I tell the story of a love affair doesnt mean that I am a lovesick fool in the pines brooding over some maneater who recites Jabberwocky at art opening.

 

I started work on Lovestreams because I was sick of people praising my lyrics and comparing me to Bob Dylan.  First, it is the music that is more important to me.  The lyrics exist primarily to give the music a literal shape. I take them very seriously while writing them, but am not thinking of them in literal terms while singing.    The writing of the music is an invocation of the lyric. The words solidify that which in the music is abstract.  The poetic grammer of letters is a key that opens the doors of abstraction so that the listener will better understand the music.  As for Dylan, while he had a profound influence on my decision to trade in my trumpet for a guitar when I was yet a student, I feel very little affinity with the sort of thing he writes and sings.  The commonality lies in our mutual infuences, from John Dowland to Elvis Presley, from the English troubadours to the delta blues, from the hymnal to the American songbook….

 

If you sample a song from Lovestreams at random, it is unlikely that you will find anything special in it.  I write an abum the same way I write a novel, and the album is meant to be listened  to from beginning to end, preferably when you are alone and wearing headphones.  Put this album on at a party and someone will take it off before the first song is halfway over. It is not a communal experience. This album is me singing to you…in private…one person to another….and just as you might dislike being approached in this way by certain stranger, you may well dislike my voice or what I am saying. These songs are not for everyone.  But I ask you to give them a chance before dismissing them.  This is not a virtual product manufactured to beautify your personal space, This is a real person singing to you.

Click on link to hear entire album, or select a single song from the list below https://billwhite.bandcamp.com/album/lovestreams

Song of the Day #29 Gwendolyn, I Like Your Face

Song of the Day #29 Gwendolyn, I Like Your Face click onlink forfree download or just to check it out https://billwhite.bandcamp.com/…/gwendolyn-i-like-your-face…

chorus

If I wanted someone 
Id want someone just like you
My lady of the lace
Gwendolyn, I like your face

Its not that youre so pretty
In fact I suppose youre rather plain
But deep inside your eyes
I see another time and place

repeat chorus

A pair of this, a pair of that
Good things come in twos
Guinevere and Gwendolyn
The rhythm and the blues

Repeat chorus

Song of the Day #28 Greetings, Deceiving, and Goodbye

Song of the Day #28 Greetings, Deceiving, and Goodbye Click link for free download https://billwhite.bandcamp.com/…/greetings-deceiving-and-go…

 

First she bats her lashes
Her eyes are just for you
Then she licks her ipper lip 
Just like striippers do
Then she slips a finger
Into a crease in your jeans
Lighting up the pleasure zone in your brain
By simply touching your knee

chorus
Love is a three stage rocket
Pulls us out of our socket
Kick yourself wonder why
Its always greetings, deceiving, and goodbye

Later you receive a phone call
Telling you she will be late
Saying dont bother to wait up for me
You tell her you will wait
When she arrives in the morning
With her blouse askew
You ask where have you been all night
She anwers Whats it to you

Repeat chorus

Six guys are in your apartment
Packing up all of her stuff
When you get in their way
They rough you up
They kick you till you are uconscious
Then strip the room til it is bare
When you get up on your feet again
Nothing is left of her there

Repeat chorus

Song of the day #27 Surrender

Song of the day #27 Surrender Click link for free download or just to check it out.
The detective heard me call her Carol
When Gloria was her name
 
Before he could cuff me, I slipped to the side
And lagged behind
 
After the crowd was let into the theatre,
I switched out the tickets for another show.
 
Carol found me and we broke into her car
Where she had stashed a copy of the script
 
With only ten minutes till curtain,
I didnt have time to memorize my part
 
So I took the high road to the farm
Where the police waited to arrest me.
 
Fifty years on the run and my past had caught up with me.
What could I do except surrender?