Little Song for the Day of the Sun

I’m moving. In summer.

Which is fun! New city, new Michael, right? Maybe. Bristol still feels like a new city to me – there’s definitely loads to discover, even after a couple of years here.
Actually yes, there’s LOADS I want to do while I’m still here. I haven’t been to a gig at the Duke yet, where I’m assured there’s jazz to be had. The mezze bar just ’round the corner? Haven’t even tried there yet, as Gloucester Road has so much choice. And there’s the rub, that within a hungry person’s five-minute jog, we can eat Lebanese, Italian, Mexican, Sri Lankan etc, and do so tastily sans meat, if desired.

The Bristol Bucket List I began writing will hopefully remind me to make the most of the nearby artists’ supplies and indie shops. In fact, to convince myself to finish the list, I did so in verse. I’ve decided that, partly due to my love of the form and your responses to an earlier update, I’m going to write a sonnet every Sunday this year. So, two down – the sing-songy balance of sonnet rhythm I’m loving, equally the verbal sudoku required to make one’s thoughts fit the rhyme-scheme.

Sonntag sonnets. Etymology fiends may wonder if there’s a connection – a cursory search suggests there’s none, the former being from High German, the latter Italian. One means sun-day, the other is a little song, or song-let. So 52 times this year I’ll be writing a little song for the day of the sun. If things take off, I’ve half a mind to make a zine towards the end of 2020. Fancy it?

The main course of this post (all the restaurant chat earlier got my stomach’s attention) is how my impending relocation fits with my creative output. So I present to you a song about moving, the world seeming very big and very open, and feeling propelled to your destination, rather than stumbling into it. Private link here.

‘Kingfishers Catch Fire’ is a song whose lyric I wrote, pretty much in a single caffeinated flow, a few years ago. It wasn’t even meant for my current musical project (I thought I had a tracklist pinned down, but I really, joyously don’t), Flora and Fauna. But that record, still in its embryonic stage, seemed to be in need of a certain kind of song. ‘Kingfishers’ seemed current to me, for the above-mentioned reasons – and some fauna play a starring role in the narrative – so with a few lyrical and musical modifications, it seems to be very much in.

Yes, indeed. It owes a bit to Gerard Manley Hopkins – whose belief that nature is charged with supernatural grandeur isn’t so far removed from the ‘immanent magic’ worldview of Björk, say – but he just offered help joining the dots on my boring autobiography. I saw birds catch the light as I wandered alongside Antrim’s River Braid, considering whether to travel outside Europe for the first time; I saw a garden in Dachau, which memorialised that most obscene waste of life found in the city’s concentration camp, but took care to obliterate the right-angled monotony of Nazi aesthetics with curved walls and irregular plantings. Through it flew a pair of dragonflies, again catching the sun and painting indelible electric blue on my memory.

What do you think of the song? It’s very much not in its final form, but I’d be interested in feedback. Am I in any meaningful sense in the lineage of the enchanted, magic-spotters such as Hopkins, Björk, even e.e cummings? As the latter proclaimed when overcome by gratitude, “this is the sun’s birthday”, and I want to live ludicrously in the moment, though this post has concerned future plans and past memories. That cummings poem loosely inhabits sonnet form, as if dancing its clothes loose – I love my beloved structures, but may I be sure enough of my vision to blithely ignore their rules. (Amen.)

1 thought on “Little Song for the Day of the Sun”

  1. […] My task while in Bristol: make this dang record. Time spent anywhere is always limited, but now I’m aware of just how limited that time is. Which causes one to set priorities, right? So the album itself, which encapsulates what brought me to town, which encapsulates an era that is even now passing, is the one that has to be given first dibs on my time. And the already moderately colourful piece of work I’m assembling will soon have the colours of other people added into it – their strings, their harmonies, their personalities. I look forward to sharing another work-in-progress song with you in my next update, due on St. Valentine’s Day. Promise it won’t get soppy. Cheers for encouraging comments on the last one! […]

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