via truepenny, pursuant to a discussion of this month's Peter Mulvey MP3 download ("The St. James Infirmary"), (go. get it. it's free, legal, and good; how often does that happen all at the same time?) Letter from New Orleans #13, with particularity to the folk process and the St. James Infirmary Blues. I feel for the writer's fascination with that song: I have a similar obsessive collection of "House of the Rising Sun" and "Stagolee" versions.
Not that I'm really as familiar with folk music as I'd like to be--I'm a dabbler, not a historian--but there's an echo of that much varied chorus about the pallbeareres and the carriage horses in the English ballad "Jack Hall," which is told from the point of view of the guest of honor at a Tyburn hanging.
And you know'd there was twelve coal black horses on Britannia Street
Twelve coal-black hustlers decked in leather, don'tcha know it?
Yeah, I like the Dr. John version too.
And when I talk about homage and pastiche and fanfiction and retellings, this is exactly the storyteller tradition I'm talking about. "Thus," as my father would say, "the folk process."
As a side note, this seems in particular appropos when I've just sold Blood & Iron, which is not only a Tam Lin Arthuriana retelling riff, but also hopefully a book about the process by which fairy tale retellings occur.
This ties back into that thing about chickens and dinosaurs. "The St. James Infirmary Blues" is "The Unfortunate Rake." Just with feathers, and a beak.
As an aside, does anybody know offhand who currently holds the rights to the Bobby Sands poem "Back Home in Derry," frequently performed as a ballad? (I know Seven Nations, Wild Mountain Thyme, Jonathan Ramsey, and Christy Moore all do versions--to "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," in fact--and I checked ASCAP and got nothin'.) (As a further digression, Phil Chevron's "Faithful Departed" has to be one of the prettiest sets of profoundly depressing lyrics in history: There is no pain that can't be eased / by the Devil's holy water and the rosary beads.)
misia, here's one for your list of uncompromising songs performed by women about sex. I'm amused because, again, I like my misheard lyrics better than the original lyrics.
Progress notes for 13 May 2005:
Whiskey & Water
New Words: 1,521
Total Words: 74,609
Still not to the end of this scene that is a chapter, and not a short chapter, neither.
Reason for stopping: taking a break for a while
Mammalian Assistance: Mebd impersonating a keyboard, Paladin underfoot, Marlowe licking my hand while I try to mouse
Stimulants: lime passion tea
Today's intentionally bad sentence written to illustrate a problem: "He froze like a doe in the glare of the bank of floods atop a Chevy Bronco with a jacked-up suspension might while staring down the barrel of Joe-Bob's 10-guage."
Today's words Word don't know: moonflowers, Foehn, katabatic, Koembang, Samiel, Inanna, lamper, taloned
Words I'm surprised Word did know: adiabatic, Simoom, Sirocco, Chinook (Sometimes, a real joy of omniscient is the ability to stop everything--screech--for an artful two-paragraph infobolus. Wheee!)
There is a curious phenomenon known to meteorology as the Foehn effect. Dry air cooled by a glacier becomes a katabatic wind, which is to say that the heavier, colder atmosphere drains away from the peaks. Upon descending the mountain slopes, this frigid exhalation is transmuted through the alchemy of adiabatic compression into a hot, ionized dragon's-breath reputed to provoke madness, wickedness, and sickness where it blows.
These winds have names--Chinook, Sirocco, Koembang, Simoom, Samiel. And those names are stories.
Matthew, descending like Inanna in the darkness, inhaled the mother of them all.
Tyop du jour: Ore or less.
Darling du jour: He'd see how far he got in the dark.
Books in progress, but not at all quickly: Neal Stephenson, Quicksilver; various things I'm critting in draft.
Interesting research tidbits of the day: The Foehn effect; also, winds of the world (Including Maria. *g*)
Also, if you are ever interested in a quick overview of the fluffier side of the web, google some names from Sumerian mythology. Go looking for Inanna's descent, wind up on astral projection and channeling sites. Are Sumerian deities particularly prone to being channeled? I particularly like the one with the headline-style page headers: INANNA DEFEATS ENKIITES; NINURTA, NOT MARDUK TO NEXT RULE EARTH . If only the NY Times' election results were that interesting.
Other writing-related work: Some comments on, lo, about the first half of stillnotbored's book