Silent Tree Music
( PART 3c )
LITERARY / POETRY
( The Paul Hellweg Memorial Page )
To 4a of 10
Not My President: "Well, you've pegged my sentiments exactly, & obviously a lot more Californians too.
The song works as is, but I doubt you can get it published in a family newspaper with the word 'shit' included.
Would you consider 'crap' or something else less likely to be problematic?"
Down in the Stable: "Good song. I should think it ought to catch on, should appeal to all the true believers."
Good at Being Single: "Good song -- solid lyrics, and yes, it's funny."
Would Music Be the Same?: "I think it's good & complete. It's moving & thought-provoking -- very philosophical in tone. Makes the reader/listener reflect on fate vs. random chance. I was aware at the first line who the song is about. & no, I didn't know the big E had a twin brother.
As an aside, what's your take on Dylan's winning the Noble Prize for Literature? Personally, I think it's an insult to all the serious writers out here who've devoted their life to literature. I'm a huge fan of Dylan, indeed his songs are poetic. But I still think of him as a singer/songwriter & not a literary personality. However, I'm thinking that songwriters (I'm thinking of you) must feel good to have their type of work so highly respected.
I'm trying to keep an open mind would like to hear your thoughts. Maybe I should be more accepting of Dylan as a literary giant.
Not sure if you've heard it, but a joke going around the internet is that Bon Jovi has been nominated for the Noble Prize in Chemistry."
Stacked Deck printed in The Signal newspaper: "Congrats on at least getting it published. Yeah, they didn't exactly do it justice. The comments weren't all that negative, but obviously the commenters did not understand the back story. Sigh. Oh well, I've always felt that negative reviews were better than no reviews -- for me, the worst scenario is not getting noticed. At least you know that people did read your lyrics. I did!
Stacked Deck letter: "I read your message to the City Council. Very well stated & I wish it would help you & the others who have to move, but I fear it won't. I'm truly sorry to hear about this problem. I'd thought you had found a perfect place for the two of you. I know you thought that too, thus I understand the frustration & stress you must be feeling. Alas, the Council seems to have its own agenda, which obviously has nothing to do with the welfare of the people the Council members are theoretically representing. All too sadly, the same phenomena -- caring more about profiteering than people's needs -- seems to be alive and well at all levels of government, especially in Congress. Sigh."
re: 14 demos accidentally erased: "I'm pleased to hear that you are working on song re-recording, and I still empathize with the loss. Dang, but losing so many really sucks. Best wishes for successfully salvaging as much as possible."
Plug in the Jug: "Sorry, my friend, but it does feel incomplete. Reads to me like the narrator has decided to quit drinking, & has taken the first step, but that only piques my interest. What happened? Failure or success? From my perspective, zillions of people have decided to quite something (drinking, smoking, over eating, etc.), but most are unsuccessful -- at least at first. Thus the narrator's desire to quit doesn't carry any significance in and of itself.
"Yeah, I think it's incomplete. Earlier I was thinking in terms of the song should reflect failure or success. Now I think that is less important than offering the reader something they likely did not know. For example, I did a quick google search and learned that 50 to 90% of people who quit drinking suffer a relapse. I've read elsewhere that the average smoker quits 6 - 8 times before stopping for good. Basically, for the song to succeed, it needs to offer the listener/reader something new. Like your other songs do.
"More complete, but ambiguous. I didn't really understand what the lemons referred to -- more drinks, or lemonade for the non-drinker? Anyway, a song or poem does not need to be logical to work. This new verse works because the reader is left with a clearer impression that narrator has quit for good. Not sure if this helps, but that's what came to mind."
"New ending makes more sense -- very clear now.
MT Featured Performer at Encino-Tarzana Library 3-26-16: "I'm mainly writing now to wish you well for your reading today. Or should I say, break a leg! I would be there to support you were I in America, but it's a wee far for me to travel. So I will be there in spirit, wishing you well, laughing at the humorous songs, reflecting on the messages of the deeper ones. I hope you get a good turnout & lots of applause & appreciation."
"I look forward to listening to your CD. I like your songs."
What They Don't Know: "It works & I like the message. I particularly like the juxtaposition of glory & gory. Nice."
"I think the new version of The Thirteenth Step is much clearer. In fact, I like it better. I particularly like the juxtaposition of 'problem at 13th step' with 'problem called the 13th step'. Very effective -- the reader/listener expects the original line to be repeated verbatim, thus the new wording catches our attention. Like I said, very effective. Problem solved."
"Yes, I understand the 13th step now. I looked it up, seems it's a fairly widespread phenomena. I hadn't been aware, I'm sure lots of other non-AA folks also are not aware, thus you're on to something important here. But if you want to alert folks to the general problem associated with 13-steppers, it could be more clear."
"I'm not familiar with the thirteenth step, but your song does not require background knowledge. The safe place's intent is made clear, & its violation disturbing. Good work. So what is the 13th step? I thought AA was a 12-step program, does the 13th mean the individual is now safe? That's what I gather from your song."
What's in the Future This New Year?: "I like the song, especially the last stanza."
"I enjoyed the comments you posted -- very creative & fun. I'd thought Bukowski had passed away -- nice to see he's still around & still his old no-bullshit self. Clever message, made me smile."
Double-Wide, I Never Wrote a Sonnet: "I enjoyed both pieces. I liked the light-hearted tone of them."
"Sorry to hear you lost the recording, but Tina's right, Young Girl in the River is a good one. Based on your comments, it's based on a true story. So tragic and heart-breaking."
"I am very pleased with your work! Wow, you're off to a great start! Good work, my friend. I appreciate all your work. You do create quality art."
Dirty Little War: "Good one, I like it. I also like your ongoing humanitarian sensibility. Only one suggestion: Could 'could have' be written 'could've' without interrupting rhythm. Problem is, the formal seems out of place in a song mostly colloquial. Keep on truckin'."
Happy Birthday Anyway: "Thanks, still a good one! So did you intentionally wait a day in order to send this again? :-) I miss the good old days of Ron Divorkin's reading at the bookstore. That was Border's, yes?"
The Battle May Be Over: "Very poignant. I personally don't like the line about scaring the wife & kids (not all vets become that angry), but it's acceptable because many do. Good work."
Ehawee Is Gone: "I hadn't read this one before. I would've remembered it if I had. It's a beautiful & touching song, & it carries an important message that should be heard by the world. Thank you for your empathy."
Banks of the Big Sandy: "Thanks for taking the time to clarify your position, which definitely seems reasonable, appropriate & humane. (Duh! You wouldn't have written this song were you not empathetic to their plight.) You hadn't mentioned your private access to the Anasazi ruins. Wow, what a memorable experience. Surely there's got to be a song or two there?"
"Yes, it is definitely powerful. I've been mulling over your questions, no easy answers. My initial reaction is that it works better w/o the coda; however, admittedly that reaction is based on envisioning you as the person reciting. Were this song recorded by someone who is in fact a direct descendant of survivors, then hell yeah, the coda would be powerful."
"Alas, I still have problems with 'Injun'. I find it hard to believe it was not a derogatory term back then. Again, it's a question of who is performing. 'Injun' would be powerful if spoken by a Native American -- a form of acknowledging prejudice without being daunted by it. Not sure if this helps, but I tried. It's a good song."
"It's a good one. Typo near the end -- should be 'Sandy', not 'Sand'. Hmm ... not sure about this ... both uses of 'Injun' popped me out of the song. It's clearly written from the native American's perspective, & I find it difficult to believe they would have heard that phrase, or more unlikely, that they would have coined it. I'm not saying you need to change it, but it's something to reflect upon. I'll do the same. Short of that, it's a powerful song."
Now It's Over: "I like it. That is, assuming I've interpreted correctly. I'm seeing a guy in the depths of despair trying to pick himself up & get on with his life. But it sure ain't easy. That's me! I'm trying to do just that, but you're oh so right -- it really isn't easy. ( Well, I'm not as depressed as this guy is ... ) You do accurately catch the melancholy of breakups, especially on the part of the one who cared the most."
His Cousin Is the King: "This is very clear. Poignant & truthful -- I like it lots. Alas, I have a comment -- please run my thought through your own filter & do what your instincts tell you. I'm personally OK with the line about hunting pets & children, but I think lots of people would be happy to see a mountain lion shot if it meant saving the life of their child or dog. I'd encourage you to shy away from that line. Maybe hunting feral dogs? stray animals? Forced to seek new prey? I rather like the latter. It gets your point across & if anyone is paying attention, they will understand what "new prey" means, but it's not blatant. Great song."
"Kudos to you for writing a song a day. The more, the better the chances of getting a big hit! (Wouldn't that be nice?)"
Maximum Exposure: "I like it! It's not offensive in the slightest, so your reading it was not a failure of judgement. Alas, it was an eye-opening experience. You've mentioned a few drawbacks of living in a community of seniors. Sadly you now must add outdated moralities to the list."
Hallelujah, What's It to You?: "OMG, now I've seen everything -- a book that traces the history of a song!?! Sorry, I didn't get any of the allusions in your parody, but not to worry. I've never been big on pop culture, have heard of Shrek, but have not seen it, etc. Wow, that's certainly an involved history for just one song. Now I understand why someone was motivated to write a book on it & you wrote the parody. Now we just have to dream one of YOUR songs should do so well! Not just one song -- I wish/dream you will have a big success someday. You are talented & you work hard. You deserve success. I will tell the Universe to keep an eye out for you."
Saliva, Slobber & Slime: "I hope I'm not being too picky: I was totally on board, really enjoying it, but was derailed by the last couple lines (narrator's attraction to blonde). For me, the song lost momentum & focus at that pont. I loved the line about still being a puppy -- that would be hilarious note to end on.
I love this new version! I think it will be a real crowd pleaser. It strikes me as stronger by not mentioning the breed -- when the breed was mentioned, readers like me could envision it, which is not too scary. But without the specific, our imaginations have free rein to conjure up something more monstrous. Good job!"
Howl Are You on Horrorween?: "Checked out the video, it's a good one. I thought Dr. Decrepid did just fine. But if you see him, tell him to start using coconut or sesame oil on his face: it looks incredibly dry."
Bunnies Are Pooping: "Fun song. Hmm ... not so sure anti-bunny land mines are the solution. Too tedious. You would need to plant/hide many of them, then you would have all those messy bunny bodies to dispose. I'd recommend an anti-tank land mine -- 1) only one would take care of the entire bunny population, 2) no bunny carcasses remaining anywhere."
Coffee Fix Poetry Fix: "Your poems went over quite well."
We've Been Fracked: "Good song; love the use of "we've been fracked" as expletive stand-in."
Not So Smart: "The setup is great; I think every hetero male will identify with the scenario. Trouble is -- for me at least -- there is confusion over focus. The I'M NOT SMART ENOUGH refrain implies the narrator is going to make a move on the lass, but the rest of the song implies restraint. Here's my take: The narrator has waved & smiled at the girl & he has desire (but no intent) to do more, but he expects to get thrashed for just that wave. If that is what the song is about, you're good to go -- it works. The new version avoids the confusion. Well done. Alas, I'm not familiar with The Girl from Ipanema, so all allusions related thereto were missed."
On the Run Again: "Good one! I saw a political cartoon to effect that people care more about Edward Snowden's whereabouts than they do about his revelations. Sigh. I love the song & totally agree with its statement. Alas, I also agree with you that most of us will just keep sluffing along without doing anything. At least Edward Snowden reached one person = you!
Your take on Snowden reminds me of Hannah Arendt. She was a journalist who wrote about the trial of Adolf Eichmann & she came up with the notion of the 'banality of evil'. That is, she viewed him as just a mediocre person, merely a civil servant doing what he was ordered. People thought she was defending him, but she wasn't, rather she was pointing out that perfectly 'normal' people were capable of horrible evils. She published the article knowing it would be controversial, & indeed it was. The movie of the same name as hers is mostly about all the hardships she endured, losing lifelong friends, etc. Exactly the position Snowden is in now. Be brave, do the right thing, & become an outcast. & we wonder why there are so few brave folks around anymore. Her bravery is inspirational, & I'm making an effort to be less restrained in my own writing. Now I'm at work on an essay inspired by her."
I Want Him Back from Iraq: "Loved the song, last line was very touching. It was the "I've got him back" line that I thought was particularly effective."
(re: achieving 30,000 total video views on YouTube for 3rd time after reset back to 29,000+ twice): That's still a lot of hits you have! So, if it's multiple videos, how does the system know you've reached the magic threshold of 30,000? Is it one particular video that gets reset? Obviously YouTube allows more than 30,000 hits, else how can vids go viral? But I do empathize with your frustration!"
"I've read & like both your songs. Confusion Made Simple is my fave of the two (+ It's Curtains for Us), but I'd really encourage you to not state outright that you're talking about Medicare. First of all, I knew by the opening stanza that the song was about Medicare. Everyone over 65 will know that without being told. But what about those younger than 65? Well, I think everyone has experienced dealing with the inanities of bureaucratic jargon, so they can identify with the song without knowing it's about Medicare. In fact, the reference to Medicare at the end undermines recollections someone might have about their frustrations dealing with a bureaucracy. Well, that's what I think ..."
Can I Borrow Your Toothbrush?: "Enjoyed the poem. Shotgun only used once!"
Damn! I Sharted Again live at Kulak's: "Caught it. Good performance. Fun song."
(Crescent Moon lyrics used on sculpture): Yea! Your lyrics are immortalized!"
I'm a Sickie: "Cool. I'll take one of those pills, please."
& This Is Life: "Wow, this is now my favorite song of yours. I like the whole concept & dearly love the existential last line."
"Congratulations on being the forthcoming featured speaker at Encino-Tarzana Library. It's a great series, so that's quite an honor being asked. Good for you."
Can You Drive Me to LA?: "It's good, but a little too dark for my tastes. Were you depressed or something when you wrote it? If not, you sure did a good job of catching the spirit ... "
Freelancing for a Fee live at Kulak's: "Caught your show last night. Also heard the emcee's lecture about people going over 4 minutes. Seems like he appreciated the fact you never do. Enjoyed your song -- I thought the delivery was good too."
Freedom's a Word live at Kulak's: "Wow. Very well done, & I'm not talking about ordering a steak."
Let my People Go: "I love it!!! Sorry it didn't go well at Kulak's, but you've got a winner here."
Body Count: "I just watched your YouTube video -- moving & powerful, especially the ending. Glad it was well received, rightly so. I just pray someday your song will no longer be so topical ... I think you know what I mean."
No, I Am DB Cooper: "This one is a little problematic for me. My main objection is that this song undermines the DB Cooper legend by:
1) Implying he wouldn't have survived without his wife's help, &
2) Stating outright that he & wife never used the cash, which then begs the question -- why the heck did he go to all the bother if he didn't need/want the money?
Minor, but 'son-of-a-bitch' is a little jarring, but only because it comes at the end & thus seems out of place; that is, if profanity used earlier, then wouldn't seem out of place at the end. On other hand, points I really liked:
1) More stashes planted that he intended people to find (makes me want to go look),
2) Fact that the main part of the $200,000 is still out there is a treasure hunter's dream.
OK, now that I'm becoming a DB Cooper expert, I like this song much better. It will definitely work for folks more familiar with the DB Cooper phenomena that I am. I was proposing a more humorous take, but I now see that would not be the best approach. The song -- as written -- will likely appeal to Cooper aficionados, but I'm thinking those folks might be offended by making a joke out of their hero."
DB Cooper: "I like the song, but in my opinion, the last stanza works only if you know about the niece. Minor tweaking could fix -- 'Is this really your niece?' Your version is definitely better -- more lyrical as a song & more interesting content. This other one reads rough -- no song-like rhythm, if it weren't for the rhymes I wouldn't have recognized it as a song or poem. Hmm ... if I'm ever on Jeopardy, I rather hope they ask about DB Cooper, seeing as how you're teaching me all about him."
Bullet with My Name on It: "Enjoyed the song, really loved the line about wanting to change my name. & thank goodness for poetic license: five bullets & seven pounds of lead would be a tad too much for me. So glad that part wasn't true."
Freedom's a Word: "Steven Stills was the singer I was trying to think of, the one you reminded me of. Voice, not content. He has a song -- a capella -- can't recollect it -- you sounded as good as he does!"
Bottomless Bottle by Blond Chitlin' Goldstein on live webcast from Kulak's Woodshed: "I kept getting a blank screen. Suddenly it went live & there you were with six or so cohorts. The little I saw was awesome.
War Games No More: "I like it. Definitely catches the spirit of going to war -- motivated & idealistic at first, then not so much as the hard reality sets in. Also, the fact that the soldier is empathetic is a huge plus. You see precious little of that in wartime.
The song is fine as is. The only thing that didn't ring true to me was the charred arms & legs. I'm assuming that's a reference to IEDs, but mostly those would produce mangled extremities. I understand people burn to death in wartime, but that's a lots less common than being physically turned into mincemeat. Charred limbs are definitely a grosser & more graphic image. Not sure how to make it work in the song.
In my own experience, I'll never forget the time our lead tank hit a landmine & caught fire. The driver was burned over most of his body before we were able to get him out. He died 9 days later. That incident will be with me my entire life, mainly because I can't even begin to imagine the pain & terror he must have experienced during those 9 days.
So, my non-songwriter thoughts are:
1) Leave it as is, charred limbs are indeed a horrific image,
2) Change to mangled -- less graphic, but more believable, or
3) Make a reference either directly or indirectly to an experience similar to the anecdote I just shared. But like I said, song is fine. No need to change anything. Not to worry, one way or the other, this is a good piece."
Rusty Waters: "Like this one too. Very important message, & the escalating teardrop metaphor works well."
One Quick Lesson in Flying (at Kulak's Woodshed): Good intro, good (in a heavy sort of way) poignant song. Your delivery was spot on."
Are You Still There?: This is a beautiful song. I love both the imagery & the theme."
Casey A.: I like it. You catch the essence perfectly. Minor quibble -- you say they can't convict her again, I wasn't aware that she had been convicted. I understand pacing is important. Anyway around? They can't try you again ... they can't ..??? Still, it's good."
Oops, We Bombed the Wrong Country; Children of War; I Want Him Back from Iraq: "Very nice, glad you did submit (to Winning Writers War Poetry Contest). They're all solid. I don't think I've heard the first. Very powerful poem/song. Is it based on a true incident? My feeling is that it is not, but the resulting ambiguity perfectly captures the haphazardness of modern warfare: was that guy we just killed really an enemy? Did we kill the right children? Uh ... maybe we shouldn't be killing children? Aren't they innocents?
You are empathetic & it shows in your songwriting -- in fact, that's what I would consider to be your greatest strength. & if it sounds like I'm rambling, indeed I am. But it's rambling inspired by your poem/song. Good luck in the contest. I can live with being the runner-up if you're the first-place winner!
Also, the birthday song was touching & thoughtful. Made me feel special."
I Could Hear Them Talking: "I like it. I had assumed from the get-go that the narrator was the intended target, so the ending was a surprise twist that was witty & tender."
Children of War: "I liked your AK song very much. You read well too -- very relaxed & confident."
American Hacker: "Caught your Kulak's show -- laughed out loud at the host's comment about thanking Mr. & Mrs. Dot Com. Your presentation went over smoothly, nicely delivered. Alas, I've never seen American Idol. Though I understand the concept, I can't fathom why anyone would care enough to skew the votes. Hmmm ..."
Face to Face: "Reread the song, read the obituary, watched the YouTube video. All very moving. I'm pleased you finally have tracked the veteran down, even though it is too late to reach him directly, you can still indirectly touch his world, his wife, etc. Definitely powerful stuff here."
When the Wave Came: "Caught you on Kulak's. You did well. Silence of crowd was a good thing -- they were somber after your reading. Your tsunami song again went over well at Cobalt."
(Coffee Cantina, Frazier Park 3-11-11): "I thought all your pieces went over well. The stumbling on the tongue twisters (Peanut Butter Pancakes & Pepperoni Pizza Pie Ice Cream) was not a distraction -- only went to show that they really were tongue twisters."
"I got my MickTerry.com fix tonight -- watched you on Kulak's. Gasoline Prices Were Plunging: Great material. Your song was thought-provoking & your delivery was excellent. I hadn't been aware of the timing between the lower prices & the election, so that caught my attention."
Vee Half Vase Off May Kink U Tock: Gut vun! Das ist eine gut video ... audience laughter helps a lot ..."
The Way the Starlight Fills the Night: I like the song. I'd call it sentimental, but not corny. Lots of people are sentimentalists, myself included, so I'm not surprised you got a good reception.
(Beyond Baroque, Venice - Featured Poet 2-6-11): "I thought your delivery was superb & you had the audience with you. I felt honored to have the opportunity to introduce you & provide a better lead-in than the regular host would have done."
(Borders Canoga Park 1-29-11): "I enjoyed your reading -- especially the first one, The Dumpster. First mention of the dumpster, I thought the fat girl's body was going to end up there. Then the instant we learned the baby was unwanted, I (audience too) knew who was going to end up there. We all knew it before you got to the last, subdued mention of the dumpster. That wasn't needed for understanding, but it did make an effective dramatic note to end the song on."
Things My Brother Taught Me: "Strikes me that there are two songs here. The brother teaching about camel toes, etc. holds together fine, but I don't see the connection to his being killed by dirty cops. I like both parts/subjects, but I don't see the two themes working as a whole."
Must Be the Maid's Year Off: "I love it & I hate it. Not bad range of emotion reacting to one song. In short, works fine, no need to change anything.
I loved the set-up: perfectly catches the ambience of a life lived in despair & depression, where an act as simple as taking out an empty pizza box is so meaningless that it's impossible to do.
Then I hated it when I understood the poem was about a guy murdering his wife & getting off Scot-free.
Not that you need to change anything -- it's just one of those themes that get under the skin, which I suspect was your intention."
War Is Not the Answer: "Wow, I love it. Based on a true incident? There is a Sean, rotting in jail? My god, how horrible, definitely makes your song more poignant. If not based on a true story, still a good song."
Where Do Vampires Go on Christmas?: "Sorry, this one isn't for me. A young woman's body lying in the snow is not my idea of holiday cheer. The lyrics read as if she's dead, which is inconsistent with the jovial tone of the rest of the poem -- like if you're hanging out under a vampire's mistletoe, you'll wonder how you got those red marks on your neck. That actually has erotic overtones, which from what I understand that's what vampirism is all about -- suppressed sexuality, & all that.
I do, however, like the concept -- vampires too need love when everything is cheery & bright. Any way you can eliminate the image of the dead young girl? Then I'd be on board. Then again, it's your muse, & I firmly believe in doing what my muse wants.
It is complete, not confusing at all. I've been urging you all along to trust your muse more than a pacifist, Bambi-loving raving liberal (moi) who can't stomach the image of a young girl lying dead in the snow, crimson spreading."
The Ugliest Christmas Tree (YouTube video): "Very, very, nice. Sweet & uplifting. I like it a lot. (Children's book): Excellent idea!"
"Your CD: Very enjoyable -- listened to it twice on the way home last night (well, actually I got home a little before finishing second time through). Had a very professional tone -- I never would've guessed that it was just one person. Thanks for the CD, I'm sure I'll be getting lots more enjoyment from it in the future."
(Kulak's Woodshed, NoHo 6-7-10 The Bear Facts): I loved your introduction about being an upcoming featured poet, & the audience seemed to genuinely appreciate that. Good 'poem' too. Hey, I like it! (Especially the dedication). Thanks for dedicating the performance to me & especially thank you for the friendship, support & encouragement. This morning's revelation: that supportive friends (yourself being the case in point) mean more to me than being featured reader anywhere. Multitude of very pretty young girls? Hmmm ... maybe I should go to Kulak's sometime?!?"
(Beyond Baroque, Venice 6-6-10): "Mick the Magnificent ... I was thinking the magnificent songwriter, but you know -- magician works too. You certainly have a magic touch with the words, & folks are responding positively. Your reading went well, & the honor bestowed upon you (invited to be the featured poet) by Marie (the host) is well-deserved. Absolutely. Sincerely -- I do respect the honor you have received by being invited to feature. Way to go!"
"I thought your performance tonight at VIVA Gallery (5-22-10) was stellar. Not only did I enjoy it immensely myself, I could tell beyond doubt that the entire audience was with you. You were the star of the night."
BP Wants Their Life Back: "Love it -- just passed the link along to a friend. I loved Suicide Bombers, & absolutely, the coda makes the whole thing work. Of course the audience took it seriously, anyone would, but that just sets us up for a huge laugh as tension release. Besides, that doesn't devalue the seriousness -- we still get that. But like I've always said, it's a lot easier to laugh at horror than it is to go insane embracing it."
Runaway Toyota & Tiger & Me: "Love them both, though Tiger one is from female POV -- how you gonna read that? I want to see that!"
Playing Battleship: "I like it - at first I thought it was based on the popular game, but I wasn't prepared for the unique twist & originality. Hmm... I've never played battleships this way before Any wine involved in creating this version of the game?"
I Never Wrote a Sonnet: "Cool - I like it. I don't see how you did it -- I absolutely loathe structure, but you sure pulled it off."
"I loved Whoa, Mom & Dad. The line about taking Viagra to not roll out of bed is fabulous."
I Have Created a Cliché: "I like it! You going to read it at the Cobalt? ... If so, you might consider a companion piece ... The Darkness of my Soul!"
"I liked both pieces. Bear at my Door got me smiling & chuckling -- very nice, considering it was a first draft rush job. Seems complete to me & ready to go. I love Jew Christmas! Racy and sacrilegious & funny. Nice, enjoyable fun. What I like is that it's accessible to everyone. Myself, I'm not Jewish, but I get the references. Happy Jew Year next?"
(Barnes & Noble Encino 3-27-10): "You were awesome last night. Your songs went over well & your introduction for Ron Gregus truly rocked. I'm honored & pleased to be your friend."
Stuck in a Bottle Again: "I enjoyed the song, & I think it probably does accurately portray the drinking experience for some. At least I've heard of alcoholics with similar responses to their drinking. Alas, I am not truly an expert in this case. Oh, well -- maybe I should go have a few beers and read the song again?"
(Java Groove 2-25-10): Your presentation was powerful & well-received. Kudos! Running Out of TP lots of fun. But Then, that Kiss enjoyable, too. King's Ransom went over well. I'll look into revising the Johnny Marching poem -- I think your comments are perceptive."
(Barnes & Noble Encino - Featured Poet 11-28-09): "Wow, featured poet! That's great. I'd love to be there. I thought you were in particularly good form tonight. Well done."
Hard Times in Malibu Blues as Blond Chitlin' Goldstein:
"Got it (live webcast) -- fun -- audience seemed to enjoy. Good to hear Blond Chitlin' Goldstein is alive & well ... "
Not Quite the World's Oldest Profession: "'You can't even leave w/o testing their wills' ( © 1998 Mick Terry ) ... cool!"
If the Holocaust Was a Myth: "I love your Holocaust lyrics -- I found the opening stanza to be especially poignant -- you definitely seem to have caught the essence of being a trauma survivor."
I Don't Want to Go There: "Wow. That's a great song. It is now my favorite of yours, really hits a lot of buttons -- wanderlust, romanticism, etc. I can certainly see how it would get such a positive response. Good for you. Alas, the middle lines of the last paragraph rather spoil the mood for me. Are they really necessary? I'm referring to currently not having the money to do this stuff. Keep in mind, please, that the listener doesn't need to know whether or not you're currently traveling the world. I, for one, would rather not know that you're not. You've created a blissful sense of longing & desire, & that's all we need ... or want. Anyway, good work. You should be proud of it. I truly think it's a great song, regardless of my misgivings about the last stanza."
It Ain't Over 'til We're Sober: "I've just reread that song a couple times, & -- alas -- it still doesn't touch me. Not to worry -- I should think it impossible for every song to reach every person. As far as I'm concerned, your track record is darn good (lots of songs that appeal to lots of people). The problem for me is the last stanza, which confuses me. I interpret the song overall to be anti-drinking and pro-relationship, but the first two lines of this stanza can be interpreted: 1) pro-drinking (raising a toast), and/or 2) anti-relationship (they're better off drinking alone, and the different cities could mean separation). I'm aware that this could be intentional irony, but if so, it ain't working for me. Also, the song ends on an ambiguous note: does "protected from the outside" refer to no drinking or staying away from the sometimes friends, maybe the rest of the world too?"
She Loves Nature: "I love your nature lyrics. They hit me like a call-to-arms. I empathize totally with Tina -- I too prefer the comfort of a warm bed to shivering through a sleepless night. I'm afraid of rattlesnakes & bees (allergic to the latter). I too am hesitant to pet a tame squirrel or lizard for fear of disease. I could go on & on about my fears -- like what would I do if I broke my ankle again, but say 20 miles away from the nearest road or trail?!? Arrgghhh, I shiver to think about it. & despite my bravado, I too am afraid of bears (seen them by the dozens) & lions (I've seen two). But your song makes me realize how funny & silly my fears are. Obviously I do get out backpacking, etc., but I don't get out near as much as I'd like. So, as I said, your song is an inspiration & call -- time for me to shelve the fears & start taking on some bigger & grander adventures. Thank you for the inspiration & the challenge."
Tree Butchers of L.A.: "I like this one (mostly) -- the theme resonates with me, & I think this is an important piece -- in the sense more people need to be aware of the damaging nature of our tree stewardship (or lack thereof). The only part I didn't like was the pun on Paul Bunyan -- I get what you mean, but it struck me as an unnecessary joke that detracted from your message. It pulled me out of the piece because I hesitated to figure out if it was an intentional pun or a mistake. Which is to say, it would work better if it were more obvious it's an intentional pun. Not sure if the acrostic will work spoken or sung. The acrostic is a visual form -- & almost invariably the hidden message is presented in a readable format, as you have done here. I sure didn't see it in the first version, & almost no one would. But this poem/song would still work well as a spoken piece -- people who hear it read aloud will get the theme, even if they don't see (hear) the hidden message."
"I just checked out some of your anti-war lyrics, & I'm blown away. I'm a Vietnam veteran, & just in the past month or so I've decided to devote my life to speaking out against war. I have had several of my anti-war poems accepted, but none have been published yet. Read a few more of your pro-peace, anti-war songs. Damn, sir, they're mighty fine. I did like Face to Face. Very nicely done, & I can see why the audience responded so favorably. Let me know when it's on YouTube, I would like to see it performed."
Why Are They Shooting at Me? "Back during the war, I asked myself that question a billion or so times, but you certainly caught the spirit. Great work. I've had at least one story & several poems that were widely interpreted to mean something altogether different from what I had intended. To me, that's the beauty of art."
"Great meeting you last night & I enjoyed your reading -- excellent presentation. Also, I checked out your website -- I really liked today's lyrics." (Go Off & Kill Someone)
- Paul Hellweg - award-winning poet, author, editor, educator, film executive producer;
founder & featured poet of VietnamWarPoetry.com;
former host / founder of Coffee Cantina Poetry Open Mic, Frazier Park - CA
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