Thursday, September 20, 2007

One short sleep past

Image: Amanda Kavanaugh

I'm Willin' (Part 1) - The Staple Singers

Centuries before gospel borrowed from the carnal of blues and other secular music, artists were
articulating spiritual ecstasy with a slightly more accessible (and mundane) lexicon. Think Donne's "Holy Sonnet XIV" (Except you enthrall me, never shall be free/Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me) or Bernini's St. Teresa of the Arched Back and Parted Lips. None of us right here are saints, and from our likely diminished perspective, the pleasure of voluntary and absolute surrender--body or soul--are proportionate. But really we enjoy only an awkward and imperfect grace, a grace of knees and elbows, lurches and stammers. Whatever you believe I think you know this, and it haunts you. It haunts me. (For the record, I consider myself a spiritual person, but not in any organized-religion sense, so I'm absolutely not proselytizing here.) Maybe the Singers' relatively cool and sober responses to Mavis Staples' hot and heavy Lord I'm willing calls is this kind of momento mori. Small reminders. Still, the power and glory of this song is in Mavis singing. In her rich range and the way her voice splinters and sparks on the high notes like flames feasting on dry wood--red and triumphant but also ashen, dejected. In the way she just brushes the humid sway of drums and reverbed guitar with her fingertips, but dances cheek and hip and toes, full-body, eyes squeezed shut in want and need, with something unseen.

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Before she died this week at the much too young age of 36, Megan Matthews wrote for the music blog Moistworks. She did many other things too, including raising a young daughter. But I knew her only from reading her Moistworks posts--some of the best, most thoughtful and inspired writing about music (writing about anything) on the web. Her posts were brave, fierce, humorous, and always voiced with such intense feeling. This morning, the world seems lesser for her absence from it. You can leave condolences and donate to a college fund the Moistworks staff has established for Megan's daughter, here.


Blogger C. said...

Nice Staples track, Amy--one I wasn't familiar with.

The death of Megan Matthews really is just the saddest, most shocking thing. What a terrible loss.


7:18 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

There's a part II to the song. I was going to post it, but decided to let peeps find it on their own.

I can never quite understand--on an emotional level--how someone can be here one minute, so alive, and gone the next. It's an awful, frightening sorcery.

11:06 PM  
Blogger cathy C. said...

megan was a beautiful person who loved life. She was my neighbor. In my few encouters with her, she always was smiling or laughing. I remember her walking doown the street eating ice cream with her daughter. Megan's beauty will live through Renee She gave me the benefit of the doubt when someone accused my son of something. He was innocent. She was a genuine human being.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I'm so sorry, Cathy. It sounds like she was an extraordinary person.

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Megan's beauty will live on through all of us she touched through her posts.

2:54 PM  
Anonymous cathyclark said...

It has been a week since her funeral. I look up at the stained glass hanging in her widow and her empty parking place.
Megan made it to the promised land (read her blog). Sadly, renee will travel on without her but the great thing is she has so much of megan in her.
I still can't belive this has happened. Princess diana only "Lived half a life" said in the eulogy. But she touiched so many did Megan.
My son trevor lost his dad at the age of ten in (same age as Renee)of a brain hemorrage. he is a freshman in high school now. I look at Renee and can only guess of all the inner feelings she must have.

9:55 AM  

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