Monk like, walking side ways to go forwards two chords ahead of cowardice, where’s the change? Front to the future, grim reaper’s keeper, swine snatches pearls before you ever caught the wind’s tail. A race?
Like walking backwards to see the ending before it all began, and how I made you feel so good before you knew me. Shall we dance my dear?
A question worn out, big toe poking out of socks, sucks to be this free without a new world to unmask. I might be everything you ever wanted, just arrange the parts around my heart, its tough to kill and too easy to die. Again?
Walking forwards, to find the back of you, we chain our eyes to red dot secrets, and embrace lasers like lovers headed to the guillotine, defy life at your own risk, to fall in, all the way down, take a left turn at the corner of your doubts, I am all your fears come true, your worst mistake and your best decision. Now?
One of three. Three. Free. Wanting to be. Young Disciples had that song back in the day about wanting to be free. Its called Freedom Suite. A beautiful work in three movements or parts. Carleen sang with such authority about a longing for a state of being that is not conferred on everybody. The freedom to be. Just to be. Human. To be people. Who share gifts during pagan holidays. And eat a lot during that time. Most likely, such people will have family over, and share in the merriment of that moment. It might or might not be Turkey at that table. It might be Chicken wings. Or Egusi soup. Akara. Plantain. Or good old roast potatoes with beef and gravy.
“Still in your mind all we do is keep wandering and gathering, spear chucking and dancing. You imply we must prove to you that we deserve freedom.”
Tired feet. Tired eyes. A treacherous road carries me. I travel light. This journey of service and sacrifice is heavier than my heart, which holds all that is dear to me. I almost closed it too soon after I dreamed another life away. To die new deaths and return to you. Just to say I was there. I wrestled with Atlas and Beezelbub. They know me well. All because of you. They know I suffer with you, and wait to laugh again when you do. A cackle of the cracked mind, as tender as my muse, I stutter before my words fall on her. We know life’s sweetness is bitter too.
The sky that loved me, came down to make me blue, and brought the world to my feet. Why fly when you are already one with the air? Float in time with all that moves inside you. Your heart’s alive with song, they’ll never find you outside. Go in deeper and visit your dreams by the low light, a tunnel to love, you were born old and didn’t learn to crawl. They marvelled at how wonderful you are, a mystery out of sight, your curiosity and their questions aroused the grey. Longing laughs at yearning’s yesteryears, the same fools will meet at death’s doorway to life.
60 years later. Multiplied by countless lives lived with a possibility that didn’t exist before a 6 year old child walked bravely to school, escorted by bodyguards and unseen Angels. To bear light. To shift time forward. Ahead of the appointment. To shake earth beneath stubborn feet. Moving the mountain aside to make a pathway for light to travel through. Bearer of….a burden. Light is a burden to harness.
This Roman city has been my stomping ground for all my life, and like a woman, it remains a mystery to me. A beautiful and sometimes infuriating mystery. And with all its challenges and failings, it has a beating heart that dares you to embrace it. Its old architecture and industry built from the profits of the slave trade, colonialism and the far reaches of the British Empire are part of London’s legacy. As a post colonial descendant, I am able to harness the history of London as both a symbol and witness of the city’s possibilities. The immigrant blood that upholds the NHS and that has permeated its way into the life and culture of Londoners is only one of many ways in which the history contends with the present. I try to see the beauty, resilience and hope that escapes into the polluted London air. I see the London of the Arts. I think of the fact that London can claim Mozart, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and Marvin Gaye as former residents. Its been the city of visionaries like William Blake. It gave the world the genius pathos of Charlie Chaplin. Its the city of Shakespeare and boasts the world’s greatest theatre scene and tradition. Charles Dickens did not hide the ugliness and brutality of London. Neither did Dizzee Rascal. As reflected in the Grime and Drill music, London has a screw face too. Knives and young lives have not been kind to eachother. But I’ll always be grateful to London because its where I found the great love of my life. She knows who she is. I hope that we will enjoy this city together again someday. A man can dream. I love London.
Compositionally, I was hoping that some of the flavour of Duke’s Money Jungle, Thelonious Monk and the 70s era of my favourite Jazz pianist, McCoy Tyner, pictured here, who passed in March this year might be found in one of my latest musical pieces, ‘Continents’. One of my greatest concert regrets is missing his last gig in London at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz club. I had my ticket but as has happened on many occasions due to a deficient memory, I unremembered on the night it took place. It was only some days after that I realised it had past.
McCoy was the last man standing from what I believe to be the greatest Jazz quartet and one of the greatest groups of musicians in the long history of people banging, squeezing, and plucking on things to make music. Alongside John Coltrane, Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison, Tyner made music that lifted the level of consciousness and seemingly held down the foundations of something ancient and future, just beyond the grasp of comprehension. The abstract and formal, the beauty of McCoy’s comping and soloing on ‘My Favorite Things’ is a love letter to the questing nature and curiousity of what it is to be human. The technique and the soul was never in doubt, when McCoy played his instrument.
You are my lower E string. You pulled me down to the depths. I have been with you all my years. And all my wars were fought with you. It is calm now. You gentle away the chaos. Long before I was chained to your wind, the ground held me tight. I looked down and never fell too hard to hurt you. Just in love.