I cried listening to music on TV twice yesterday evening. The first time, I turned on TVO to watch Steve Paikin’s current events program, but of course TVO staff are still on strike. Instead, a documentary called Lowdown Tracks, the work of singer Lorraine Segato, who made friends with various street musicians in Toronto and learned their stories. The doc taught me never to walk by a street musician again without listening and giving money. Their stories were uniformly heartbreaking, often about horrendous childhoods; making music, they all said, had saved their lives. But I wept when Segato brought them into a studio to record a track with her band of professional musicians. One woman, a beautiful singer, crumpled into tears afterwards as she listened. She had been heard.
And then more music — Ian Leslie, a terrific British writer whose Substack I follow, writes often about music, especially the Beatles, which is how he came to my attention. His latest was about Gerry Goffin and Carole King, songwriters, who wrote “Natural Woman” for Aretha. He attached a link to the concert celebrating King’s win of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in 2013. The regal Aretha sails out in a long fur coat, sits at the piano, opens her mouth, and out flows that glorious rich sound, from the heart, the gut, the soul. Tears. What magnificence.
Got an interesting email from a scholar of Yiddish in London who sends info every so often about my playwright great-grandfather Jacob Gordin. He sent an ad from 1910 for two of Gordin’s plays to be put on in Kharkov and Kiev. He says Gordin’s plays were regularly translated into Russian and put on all over Russia. But really, that means all over Ukraine, which is where all Russian Jews were forced to live. The names of cities Kharkov and Kiev have new meaning for me today.
That’s his name at the top; I can read enough Russian to know that: Yakov Gordin. And his plays Love and Death, and Satan and Man. Not a jokester, my gg.
I can barely read the newspapers or listen to the radio, as more horror pours out of Israel and Gaza. It’s unbearable, innocent people slaughtered on both sides, children held hostage, Gaza being bombed to obliteration. A ghastly situation made infinitely worse worse worse.
So, instead, life. Keeping my heart alive on these dark days, the pretty anemone, the only thing blooming in the fading garden.
And speaking of blooming, one more truly lovely thing, made by “Words in Wool” artist Theo Heras, from a motto by her friend Helena Aalto. I can relate. I’m sure you can too.