From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hurtin', Leavin' and Longin' (2)—Autumn Chill

Click here to read the introduction to the Round and Square series Hurtin', Leavin', and Longin'.
[a] Autumn twilight     RF
This will be another brief post. When it comes to lyrics, it is often best to let them do the heavy interpretive lifting for themselves. Throughout the world, autumnal references share similar qualities. Before you study the words (and listen to them sung), take a moment to reflect on autumn and its various qualities. There is joy, to be sure, but it is very often mixed with a wistful feeling that the warm, yang weather is fleeting, and is soon to give way to the cool yin mists of early winter. Happiness is momentary; sadness can be enduring. This is the way that some poets have interpreted these matters.

Take a look at the lyrics written by Green Daniel and Gretchen Peters—and sung by George Strait. Then examine the pithy little poem by the Tang dynasty (618-906) master, Li Bo (Li Bai). We are not looking here for lyrics that are "exactly the same" (that would be dull, indeed). Take the time to notice the themes of wind, chill, longing, and even bitterness. The "direction" of the two sets of lyrics is different, of course, but the heavy, brooding weightiness of autumn remains.

We will return to autumnal themes often in this series, and will explore lyrics from China, Japan, Korea, and...Texas (and beyond).

[b] Strait   RF
 George Strait
"Chill of an Early Fall"
(Green Daniel, Gretchen Peters—songwriters)

Well her old friend  
From her old end of town  
Dropped by today  
And way down deep inside of me  
Something died when he came 'round  
To see her that way

Here it comes again  
That same old chilly wind will blow
Like a cold winter squall
And I'll begin to feel
The chill of an early fall
And I'll be drinkin' again
And thinkin' whenever he calls
There's a storm comin' on
And it won't be too long
Till the snow falls

Oh, I'll be sober some
But when October comes and goes
In no time at all
I'll begin to feel the chill of an early fall

Oh, how quick they slip away
Here today and gone tomorrow
Loving seasons never stay
Bitter winds are sure to follow

Now there's no doubt
It's gonna be cold out tonight
I've shivered all day
And when I look in her eyes
Even to hold her so tight
She just looks away

Oh, she'll swear that it's true
He's just someone she knew long ago
But I'll know that 's not all
And I'll begin to feel 
The chill of an early fall

Li Bo  (701-762)
"Song of Autumn Winds"
The autumn winds are lonely and cool
The autumn moon is bright
Swirling leaves cluster and disperse
A wary jackdaw perches, pauses, and is startled anew
Tangles of memory—will we meet again?
This hour, this evening, my emotions in tumult. [1]

[1] 全唐詩 184.26. Complete Tang Poems 184.26. Translated (freely) by Robert André LaFleur.

[c] Corvusmonedula (寒鴉)  RF

Sunday, May 15th    
Old Memories
Memories and music. Emotion and jukeboxes. Or lutes. These are weighty combinations, my friends. Prepare yourself as next weekend approaches, when Keith Whitley meets Li Qingzhao.

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