Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Desdemona: how a little uke improved race relations at GBGC

Okay, so the first thing you might notice about this song is that there's a ukulele in it. Some of you faithful fans may have caught me using an anti-ukulele sentiment on occasion. I'm not saying the ukulele isn't a fabulous instrument, but I get annoyed because people are always calling my little bad guitar a ukulele.
Once and for all - it's not a ukulele!

I set out writing this song as part of a not-yet-officially started series of songs about operatic heroines (see The Queen of the Night here). I had a groove going, a melody and nothing else (i.e. no coherent thoughts). I even sought help from a friend of mine who is currently singing Desdemona, but the truth is, it’s hard to get into the psyche of a character unless you’ve played her yourself. And the descending flute melody you can hear is actually Leonora's "Pace, pace" and not Desdemona's "Salce, salce." This was going nowhere. So, now what? Discard it? 

Then current events intervened and showed me the direction the song should take. George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering young Trayvon Martin. The essence of the Desdemona-Othello problem is not race, it’s jealousy. The essence of the Martin-Zimmerman problem may have been race, but may have also been fear. Yet neither of the victims deserved to die (but if no one dies in Shakespeare, it makes for an awfully boring story). Sadly, I suspect in decades to come people are going to forget about the murder trial, but people will still be reading Shakespeare.

So why did I use the ukulele all of sudden to express the voice of Desdemona? Was it because she, like the bad guitar, was misunderstood? Why Desdemona at all? Because she, like Trayvon Martin, was falsely accused and brutally, needlessly murdered? And why this song? To show the world that my relationship with a 4-stringed instrument can be just as sincere as that with a 6-stringed one?

   It might just be an innate sense for rhythm, rhyme and melody and a need to create. Like people today analyzing Shakespeare, in times to come no one will ever know what my true motives were.

lyrics and music property of the grahamophone:


what’s your name?

paranoid mistrust 
suspicion unjust
-  insane

are you ashamed?

look past the skin
let the truth come in
try again 

who’s to blame?

but the hatred lies so deep
every willow shall weep
- the pain

we’re not the same
Look into your heart
and go back to the start 
of the game

No comments:

Post a Comment