This afternoon I’ll pick up a copy of the CD of BYRON BIGGERS BAND. I’ve been to the studio to hear the results of our recent recording sessions and I have a copy on my computer of each of the nine numbers individually plus three poems I read solo, but the CD will be a finished program with all the numbers joined into one album.
One number is called “Love.” It’s a brief poem of two stanzas. When I was writing this one, the words sang to me. It was a love song about the happy union of Green-eyed Beetle and a Honey Doodlebug. On the CD, I sing the poem as I felt it. The other guys in the trio make fun of my rendering and urge me to get with it. They insist that I don my dark glasses, snap my fingers, and rap the poem. If there were a contest for World’s Worst Rapper, I would take home the trophy, but I give it my best shot.
So now it’s your turn. Here’s the poem. See if you can read/sing it as a sweet ballad about two lovestruck insects. Then give it your best version of a rap. You’ll probably do better than I, but the point of the exercise, other than having fun, is to remind us as poets that readers see, read, and feel our work according to their own background and experience. Sometimes the differences can be profound.
LOVESaid the green-eyed beetle
To his honey doodlebug,
“You’re sweeter than a rose
And I want a little hug.”
So they hugged and they giggled
And a little later on
They had a thousand kids named
And Honey Doodlebug,And they all lived together
In a snug little rug.
(c) David L. Harrison, from Easy Poetry Lessons That Dazzle and Delight, Scholastic Professional Books, 1999, all rights reserved
We’re getting closer to making a recording of Byron Biggers Band. We haven’t determined yet what the final format will be. Few people can play a CD these days so we may wind up with an electronic edition, but we’ll soon make that determination. Tomorrow afternoon is the second of at least four rehearsal dates. There will be three recording sessions in Ellis Hall on the MSU campus. Each will focus on three numbers, so the finished product will include nine of my poems set to music by CHRIS CRAIG and performed by Chris, GALE CLITHERO, and me. Chris and Gale do the heavy lifting. I read the poems, sometimes sort of sing-songy. We’ve talked about adding one or two musicians, perhaps some vocals behind us, maybe some original musical accompaniment. For now they’re just ideas in the mix. I’ll let you know what works out on the 25th when we have our first recording session.
We chose seven pieces from or repertoire of ten and I provided Chris with some additional poems from which he chose two to make our final 9-count. One is “Monday” from SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK and the other is “Earthworm” from THE DIRT BOOK. This is how Chris describes what he did with them. “For the last set, we’ll have Monday, which is a killer blues tune, and then Earthworm, during which we can add in creepy sounds, but will be to a catchy marimba beat, with a cha-cha-cha ending.”I can’t wait to rehearse these two new ones!
Sound like fun? I think so. I put away my trombone sixty years ago, but a small part of me still feels like a musician. And I love being with those who are still out there doing it and making their own music.
The members of Byron Biggers Band — CHRIS CRAIG, GALE CLITHERO, and DAVID HARRISON — are planning a recording session. We were recorded once, many years ago, when we played a program in a studio at KSMU public radio. It was part of a series called “Night of a Thousand Stars” hosted by JEANNE DUFFEY, who at the time was Community Relations Director for Springfield-Greene County Library District. We each received one CD of that performance and each of us lost ours.
We played other venues from time to time: book store, schools, a literature festival, etc. For the past several years we’ve rested on our laurels. But NO MORE! Chris is making big plans to record us in a proper manner so that we can point with pride to all the fun we’ve had performing my poems, arranged musically by Chris, and performed nobly by Byron Biggers Band!
We are even adding one or two new arrangements to our repertoire. I sent Chris five new selections, he chose three that speak to him musically, and will develop one or two for the recording. We’re also adding another one or two musicians and some vocals from MSU singers. Plans are fluid and may change and grow. Planning such an event is half the fun!
Today’s a travel day. I’ll finish up the month at home with fun activities on the 28th, 29th, and 30th. One of them is a meeting with the other members of BYRON BIGGERS BAND. That would be CHRIS CRAIG (arranger, lead singer, guitar) and GALE CLITHERO (percussion, second singer, math teacher). We haven’t played anywhere in quite some time and decided we need to get together for a rehearsal and then arrange to make a recording for posterity. I think I told you that we were recorded once before, in the studios of KSMU I think. We each received one CD, and each of us lost his. I hope to take better care of mine this time.
Byron Biggers Band is named for one of my poems. Here’s the poem.
Our entire repertoire is comprised of my poems, each of which has been arranged by Chris. I believe there are ten of them. If we were to play a full concert, we’d have to keep playing the same ten songs over and over. Which may explain why we get so few invitations.
A Sad Tale
Nothing frightened Bryon Biggers,
Not even lions, not even tiggers,
He spent his life exploring this land,
Knew these hills like the back of his hand.
Striding down the path he came
Always looking for bigger game
But in the end he met his match
In a lowly Ozarks chigger patch.
Byron laughed, “Ha ha!” cried he,
“No bug could be the death of me!”
But halfway through that patch of chiggers
And it was over for Byron Biggers.
He clawed those bites till his dying breath,
Sighing, “I’ve scratched myself to death.
Someday they’ll find me here alone
With chiggers gnawing on my bones.”
He died the way he lived – brave,
And few have seen poor Byron’s grave.
He’s buried high on a lonely hill
Where to this day he itches still.
Here lie the bones of Byron Biggers,
Eaten alive by hungry chiggers,
So if you see poor Byron twitch,
Scratch his bones ‘cause they still itch.
(c) 1998 David L. Harrison, all rights reserved
Thanks to all who attended last night’s David Harrison event at The Library Center. I think Don Barrett and his daughter Carina Hurt Blair traveled the farthest, making a roundtrip from Camdenton, Missouri. It was a pleasure to once again join with Chris Craig and Gale Clithero as Bryon Biggers Band. Sarah Wiggin led a splendid RAE troop including Jeff Jenkins, Melissa Herr, and Colton Williams in performing many poems and stories from my work. I sat in the audience and cackled the same as I always do when they carry on. My favorite number is when they impersonate cows during a skit based on WHEN COWS COME HOME. I’ll show you some pictures if anyone shares what they took.
We had a nice turnout and somehow managed to stay on schedule. Sandy and I both had cousins there as well as many old friends. It was a good way to spend an hour and a half on a Thursday evening in July. Thanks to Kathleen O’Dell for facilitating the event and sticking with us all evening to see that everything went well. I do love The Library Center.