Michael Baker: Punchdrunk bliss
“It’s not really my cup of tea,” I say.
My beautiful wife responds, “Don’t think of it as tea, think of it as art. And, in any case, if it were tea it would be an infusion of exotic, sexy, spices.” Her head is down, engaged in combat-texting her agent. It seems that Berlin is the next assignment. Not for her the complications of Lockdown when private jets and socially distanced chauffeuring by stretched limousine are involved.
Somewhat rattled, I say, “Well, it’s not High Art, is it? It’s not exactly poetry.”
She tears herself from her phone and gives me that stare. The stare that turns Traffic Wardens to stone. “Who on earth listens to poetry? People want to hear music.” Her phone rings. She swipes and speaks only seven words, “Which part of “No!” don’t you understand,” and clicks the phone off.
I’m plaintive now, a bit overwhelmed if I’m being honest, “But poetry is music. Good poetry has the pulse and melody of the human voice. Poetry doesn’t need artificial noise; it is the highest form of art because it’s pure.”
“Bollocks! I happen to very much like the noise he makes, it’s beautiful!” she exclaims, running upstairs for her Zoom meeting.
I train my gaze into the garden: out through the bi-fold doors, over the flush granite flags, skirt round the BBQ island topped with Italian marble, scamper across the mossy, velvety, lawn and come to rest upon the willows that weep untold sorrows into the Thames. There I dwell for a minute or two contemplating the idea that maybe the willows droop with fatigue, trying to figure out what the line in the song, Lightly Looms, actually means – ‘My cynical demeanour is my palindrome’.
I’m lost in this reverie when the track Little Yellow Moon swirls from the Sonos sound system and it dawns on me that I’m probably overthinking. “After all, it’s music. And it’s fresh, interesting, even experimental in places,” I admit, only to myself.
“It’s a skilfully crafted, penetrating and soulful inventory of love,” I speak aloud this time, loving the sound of my voice.
In the shade of the willows, I notice a swan uncoil its neck and stab the grass, and with the image of stabbing an unseen victim, I decide that, yes, the music is good, but it would be better if I could easily grasp what the Songsmith is on about. But then, I have to concede, his songs are about Love and Love is complicated, indecipherable and infinitely bewildering.
In that sense, Michael Baker’s words hit the nail on the head.
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