Poem Project

by Barra Brown

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about

Starting from an unexpected first-impression performance by guitarist Adam Brock of my song ‘Poem’, I realized that my initial vision and mood for its sound was not the only one. This project has been an ongoing collaborative experiment, as I curiously wondered how other musicians might interpret, arrange, and build upon an instrumental piece.
This curiosity sparked the Poem Project. My song ‘Poem’, inspired by ‘The Girl with the Flaxen Hair’ by Claude Debussy, appears twice on my album ‘Songs for a Young Heart’. I have asked several of my musician friends who write poetry to arrange and write lyrics to their own version of ‘Poem’, compiling the collection of work from January 2014 to spring of 2017.
I have always admired these musicians, and because we don’t all live in the same place, this project was the perfect way for us to collaborate. As I was inspired by a classical piece and derived a song from it, I hope that we can all inspire each other!

The parameters were:
The artists were given the recordings of the original ‘Poem’ along with sheet music.

I asked each of them to write lyrics to the existing melody

The B section has chords but no melody and the artists were free to compose a melody there.

How the A section and B section are ordered and how many times they are used were completely up to each artist.

I asked the artists to record their version so that each track has a unique sound.

credits

released April 7, 2017

Album cover art and lettering: Barra Brown
Back cover art and lettering: Maya Dagmi
Album design and layout: Avi Sinkin
Each track was mixed by the artists except "Goodbye Good" mixed by Barra Brown
Mastered by Dana White at Specialized Mastering
Released on Cavity Search Records

My deepest thank you to all the musicians who dedicated their time and talent to this project, and to Denny at Cavity Search Records for his support of my music and so much music in Portland. All lyrics and arrangements written and recorded by the artists except “Goodbye Good” recorded and mixed by Barra Brown.

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about

Barra Brown Portland, Oregon

Barra Brown is a drummer/composer
and flutist from Portland, Oregon. Poem Project captures the beauty of interpretation through the unique story each musician is moved to tell when listening to the same song. After recording an instrumental version of "Poem", I began to ask my musician friends who write poetry to arrange and write lyrics to their own version of "Poem". ... more

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Track Name: Julia Lucille - Poem no. 1: Diluvian
Woke to the sound
Of my horse plunging around
I awoke to the hard chill
Of icy water

Seeping into my humble single room
Pushed my belongings away
Opened my door and swam out

Punishing night
And the stars stood coldly by
There was nothing in my mind
But the scream of 'high ground'

This ain't
This ain't
This ain't my time

The animal is gone
You bought me when I was young
If I make it through the night
I will make it right
Track Name: Tim Howe - Poem no. 2: Go Forth
When the cavalry came, and the lights were lit dim
You held the moon in your mouth like a hymn.

Don't let the sun meet the wind.
Pull your jacket closer, make your way back in.

You're a traveler now, you've got boots to get you there,
and the hills to iron flat like your flax blonde hair.

Don't let the words kill the vibe.
I never met a Poem I didn't half way like.

What's the story this time, once you made yourself known?
I'm not going out quick with a sad sorry no.

Don't let peace hold you back.
You've got lighting in your eyes and a storm on your back.

Go forth, go forth

When the sky finally fell, you were last in the room; hoping I was on my way to you
Don't let your hopes bring you down.
I'm headed up to Tulsa going to burn through the south
Track Name: Patti King - Poem no. 3: Life in Boxes
They are awake
But they spend their days in a bubble
Tell me what I want to hear
All we have left is love

Years are between
What was once my home and my memory
Sweetened dreams lie in the dark
All we have left is love

They are the same
Unaware they should make their own trouble
Try to see what was beneath
All we have left is love

So long, so long
What makes us, breaks us, takes us through
The hands of time we give into

Never again
Like we were then
Life in boxes

They are the same
Fated to remain in the rubble
Someday comes too soon
All we have left is love
Track Name: Dwight Smith - Poem no. 4: Fewer Promises
Ocean of grass that we poured into from the mountain
Where the alien eye saw only desolation was our home

Under the sky we were as kin to the Spanish horse
As if of one flesh he would favor no one like us

You would roam wide in the dark of the night
For a source that called your name
From away across the plane
Night long dance, neighboring ghost

Trailing the herds seeming shadows of clouds in their millions
Til the market found a use and the country went white with their bones

Hectored so long by the rangers and the cavalry
The wild thousand who remained would at long, hard last be subdued

Brought down to starve on the res
Waiting now on his great forgetful hand
On a remnant of the land
Hoping fewer promises would now be broken
Track Name: Colin Jenkins and Illslur - Poem no. 5: Cycle of No Dreams
Roll down the strip
south 99 blvd cycle of no dreams
get lit most nights a week
gettin lit up by the five oh
gettin lit up by collection agencies.

Travellin by bus to a job that i never liked
ramen is for lunch again got 10 minutes, have a bite
calls comin from some agencies to my bosses line
only clothes is fucked up, stuck stayin poor defined
cuz i don't have time to take on politics
i'm behind rich kids discovering themselves on amtrak lines
pulse hella freezing
stuck again cuz that bus is late and they won't see me
right at 8, right at 8, not at 8:03, see?
that is their time, this is my time easy, right?
simple, right?
simple, right?

Faith in a god for the wealthy
faith in hope that brings you nothin
faith in open carry
faith that recruits the kids for militaries
faith in 8 dollars an hour
but change ain't gonna buy you anything.

suppose to believe in what?
life, liberty, the pursuit of overtime.
how's that gonna change my day?
work

Roll up the strip north 99 blvd
cycle of late fees
smoke a half pack of pall malls
day labor building condos
faith in a god for the wealthy
faith in open carry.

they told us we could be anything
but my dreams stopped dead in your tracks
already know,
you got hotels on boardwalk and park place
where i'll wash your dishes til i'm dead.
Track Name: twig twig - Poem no. 6: So Close
i wouldn't know
what your face looked like
if i didn't
if i didn't have
the internet
to see
but
cause i do
i know every thing
about you
and i sit
home alone
and i feel
so close to you
tell me if
you do the same
Track Name: Catherine Feeny and Chris Johnedis - Goodbye Good
You don’t believe
I could be as good as the other one
So I’ll leave you on your own
To make your way
Alone

How could you think
We’d be better off apart?
I regret I made you feel
You were less than loved
My dear

Good good good
Goodbye good

Friend, in the sun
We had walked some miles together
But the wind whips through the husks
Telling me that the season’s changed

Yes, Summer’s gone
And with it goes the light
I will wither in the dark
‘Til you draw me from the ground

Good good good
Goodbye good
Track Name: Gregory Uhlmann - The Thread
take my skin
wrap it over your aching bones
grab the thread that connects
my body to mind

take my breath
blow it over your frozen hands
when you're cold i'll wrap
your fingers in wool

when will you come back
come back home
it's been too long
it's been too long

you're everything
that is sweet and good in my life
shut my eyes when you go
i'll wake when you come back home