My 3 Things FAQ
1. LISTENING: Nina Simone's version of Mr. Bojangles
You and I have heard most of the covers of Jerry Jeff Walker's 1968 song but this one is the best. Sure, you may be attached to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's version or even to Sammy Davis Jr.'s (or Whitney Houston's or John Denver's, to name only a few), but there is no denying that Miss Simone nailed it. There's something about HER voice -- that unmistakable vibrato, the way she sounds vulnerable and powerful -- that matches the scene painted by Walker's lyrics. Mr. Bojangles has beguiled me this past week as I've been writing a new song that is also largely a character sketch. The more I listened to this version, the more I thanked god for singers who can take a very curious, personal song and make it their own.
2. POEMING: "Poetry Off the Shelf" -- The Poetry Foundation's Podcast
Every week, I get a dose of contemporary poetry via this podcast. Host Curtis Fox takes the temperature of the poetry scene via readings, interviews, and short profiles. The best part about the whole endeavor is that "nothing is off limits, and nobody is taken too seriously."
There is always at least one jewel-like moment in each installment. I have to stop what I am doing and jot down names and titles to seek out later. Needless to say, the poetry section of my personal library has grown exponentially since I started eavesdropping on these conversations.
Here are two episodes that are not to be missed: "Middle Passage," a reading and discussion of Robert Hayden's harrowing poem about the slave trade and "The Achievement of Geoffrey Hill," a look at Hill's work on the occasion of his death. (The first minute-and-a-half of Hill's podcast will have you raising your eyebrows in astonishment and mischievous delight.)
3. READING: The New York Review of Books book club
This was a slam dunk of a birthday gift from a friend: a half-year subscription to the New York Review of Books (NYRB) book club.
The books I received -- one a month through the mail -- are ones I probably wouldn't have gravitated to on my own, making them all the more intriguing and important. (Who says I should be reading just what suits my fancy? How will I grow intellectually if I only read things I like? But I digress ...) So far, I've read three of the six: The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe by D.G. Compton, In the Cafe of Lost Youth by Patrick Modiano, and The Hill by Jean Giono. They've all occupied my thoughts in different ways, but my favorite was The Hill. Giono's story of a small village in Provence felt like a fable. His characters are of the land but find themselves up against it. His language is simple, his images startling. I am so looking forward to reading his other books.
//\\// OUTRO //\\//
As always, THANK YOU for reading and listening. It means so much to me and you are the reason why I do this.
If you are new around here, the drill is this: in the comments below, tell me what YOUR 3 things are or just reach out and say hello. I want to know what's inspiring you, what you are listening to, what you are reading.
Recently, I've been doing surprise Facebook Live performances of brand new songs (I mean really brand new ... Like piping hot brand new). One of my listeners had this to say about a new song I recently played on FB live, "Kate, your song gave me chills. So right to the center of it all, as usual with your work. Amazing, inspiring, soulful and such deeply true emotion."
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