Letters from Quotidia the Podcasts 2023 Episode 3

Letters from Quotidia Podcast 3 2023

Welcome to Podcasts from Quotidia 2023- Episode 3. And right away- a broken promise- and this after a string of broken New Year’s resolutions! At the end of Podcast 2 I said: I solemnly promise that my next podcast will seek to avoid roads and the old West and, furthermore, I undertake to restrain the urge to cover Desperado.

Yet the first song of this post is one called Autumn Road. In mitigation, the topic could not be avoided for the following reason: I felt, on reflection, that, at the conclusion of the last post, it was rather perverse to mention the name of Basho; quote, at length, from his travel book, The Narrow Road to the Deep North; and yet, fail to include a single haiku! Basho, of course, is a master of the form and he inspired the first song you will hear.

A redoubtable gentleman named Reginald Horace Blythe introduced this poetic trope to Western audiences in four volumes published between 1949 and 1952. He had this to say:  A haiku is not a poem, it is not literature; it is a hand beckoning, a door half-opened, a mirror wiped clean.  It is a way of returning to nature, to our moon nature, our cherry blossom nature, our falling leaf nature, in short, to our Buddha nature.  It is a way in which the cold winter rain, the swallows of evening, even the very day in its hotness, and the length of the night, become truly alive, share in our humanity, speak their own silent and expressive language.

Very eloquently put, Reggie old boy. What interests me about this definition is that, after stating that a haiku is not a poem, he goes on to define it in terms that are very reminiscent of definitions of poetry that I have come across over the decades. The poem as a doorway or mirror or deep expression of our humanity or a path to our imaginative self or to the natural world are conceits not unknown to the history of western poetics. I would like you to listen to these 10 haiku by Basho. They provided much of the content to my song- so I shall be very happy to give Matsuo Basho a co-writing credit :

1. Along this road/Goes no one/This autumn evening.//2. Moonlight slants through/ The vast bamboo grove:/ A cuckoo cries//3.From time to time/The clouds give rest/To the moon beholders.//4. Ah, summer grasses!/All that remains/Of the warriors’ dreams.//5.The butterfly is perfuming/Its wings in the scent/Of the orchid.//6.The old pond/A frog jumps in/The sound of water.//7.Yes, spring has come/This morning a nameless hill/Is shrouded in mist.//8. It is deep autumn/My neighbour/How does he live, I wonder.//9. The temple bell dies away/The scent of flowers in the evening/Is still tolling the bell.// The last haiku of Basho, himself, as he lay dying, surrounded by his disciples also predicates a road: 10. Falling ill on a journey/ my dreams go wandering/over withered fields.

These resonating bells, and butterflies, and blossoms, were the inspiration for the song, Autumn Road which first appeared in an earlier post but which I have re-recorded here because I felt a more subdued instrumentation would be a better fit than the folk/country rock original. [insert song]

And, furthermore, I undertake to restrain the urge to cover Desperado you will, perhaps, remind me. And why, you may ask, couldn’t I restrain the urge to cover the song? Let me explain: I first heard the song about 50 years ago: the song was written by Don Henley and Glenn Frey of The Eagles. Re-reading the lyrics recently, I was snagged by lines such as, these things that are pleasin’ you can hurt you somehow, and, desperado, oh you ain’t getting no younger, and, you’re losing all your highs and lows ain’t it funny how the feeling goes away.

Good Lord, these lines hit home now in a way they just didn’t half a century ago. And finally, in my opinion, this song is one of the greats and such an accomplishment for young songwriters who were just a year or two older than me back in 1973 when they penned this ballad in their mid-20s. But before I present my version, let me give a little background- this is from the site songfacts.com

Country music is filled with songs that look beyond the archetype to show the nuanced emotions of a cowboy, but “Desperado” was a touchstone in bringing this kind of song to the rock genre…Linda Ronstadt recorded this song and released it on her 1973 album Don’t Cry Now. Ronstadt was a once-in-a-generation singer who was well known in the industry…Ronstadt’s “Desperado” wasn’t released as a single, but it exposed the song to a much wider (mostly female) audience. “I was extremely flattered that Linda recorded ‘Desperado,'” Don Henley said. “It was really her that popularised the song. Her version was very poignant and beautiful.”…This was the last song the Eagles performed in concert with Glenn Frey. It closed out their show in Bossier City, Louisiana on July 29, 2015, the last stop on their History of the Eagles tour. Frey died about six months later.

And there is the circle, from the meeting with Don Henley in 1970 which led to the collaboration that resulted in the song Desperado, until that final song in concert in Louisiana 45 year later. The Eagles are revered and hated in about equal measure! The vituperation I have read while preparing this part of the post has taken me aback and I will do no more than refer to it in passing. All I can say, is that Desperado helped my wife and me bond in our first years in Australia when times were…a little tough.

And of course, I reach for poetry to amplify and enlighten the topics I canvass in these posts, so I turn now to James Weldon Johnson, born in Florida in 1871, who was a national organiser for the NAACP and an author of poetry and nonfiction. Perhaps best known for the song Lift Every Voice and Sing, he also wrote several poetry collections and novels, often exploring racial identity and the African American folk tradition. (Thanks to Poets.org for this information.) He wrote a poem that I think fits called The Gift to Sing: Sometimes the mist overhangs my path,/And blackening clouds about me cling;/But, oh, I have a magic way/To turn the gloom to cheerful day—/I softly sing.//And if the way grows darker still,/Shadowed by Sorrow’s sombre wing,/With glad defiance in my throat,/I pierce the darkness with a note,/And sing, and sing.//I brood not over the broken past,/Nor dread whatever time may bring;/No nights are dark, no days are long,/While in my heart there swells a song,/ And I can sing. [insert song]

Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller’s famous words- and when you hear them, you’ll recognise them- are inscribed on a panel in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.. They are the final words read by visitors and serve as an indictment of passivity and indifference during the Holocaust.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist./Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist./Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew./Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.//

Forty years after Niemoller wrote these remorseful words, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd with lyricist Anthony Moore composed On the Turning Away which had an immediate and lasting impact on me when I heard it on the 1987 LP A Momentary Lapse of Reason. And this song still serves, 36 years later, as a reminder that none of us should become part of the turning away from the rampant injustice in our world. I had intended to write an original song on this theme, but I fear I am still recovering from some of the mental and physical sequela of my encounter with COVID-19 recently.

Creativity and brain fog are not boon companions- as I discovered when all I produced was a weak, insipid dribble when I tried. Still, the final song is a more than worthy substitute. Lines from Sick Room by Billy Collins makes my point: Every time Canaletto painted Venice/he painted her from a different angle,/sometimes from points of view he must have imagined/for there is no place in the city/he could have stood to observe such scenes/…I am not Canaletto/and this airless little room,/with its broken ceiling fan,/ and monstrous wallpaper, is not Venice. Yes. Precisely so!

Autumn Road words inspired by Basho Music Quentin Bega

On an Autumn Road a lonely traveller stands unshod

As the night draws in and the wind is whistling

There’s a winding track leading to a running brook

Where the cypress trees throw their shadows in the stream

The moon wraps night-cloud about her shining form

I cry show your face light me on the way I need to go

Dreams of summer grass captains understand at last

That the butterfly and the orchid will survive

In a mossy pond still reflections you will find

Then a frog leaps in water splashes all around

The moon wraps night-cloud about her shining form

I now comprehend darkness brings release to tired minds

Hear the temple bell sound that blossoms in the dusk

Does my neighbour hear as it tolls into the frost

Does he remember Spring mist-covered nameless hill

Birdsong in the sky

On an Autumn road a simple traveller stands alone

The Eagles  1973 “Desperado” (Glenn Frey and Don Henley)

G G7  C Cm  G Em A7 D7

     G    G7              C            Cm

Desperado,  why don’t you come to your senses

            G          Em

You’ve been out ridin’ fences,

    A7        D7

for so long – now.

            G        G7

Oh you’re a hard one.

            C               Cm

I know that you’ve got your reasons.

      G               Em

These things that are pleasin’ you

    A7       D7  G   D

Can hurt you somehow.

          Em                Bm

Don’t you draw the queen of diamonds boy

       C                 G

She’ll beat you if she’s able.

             Em                 C                G   D

You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet.

       Em                Bm

Now it seems to me, some fine things

          C              G

Have been laid upon your table.

        Em            A7

But you only want the ones

               Am  D

That you can’t get.



G7               C          Cm

 Ohhhh you ain’t getting no younger.

     G             Em

Your pain and your hunger,

        A7          D7

They’re driving you home.

    G           G7

And freedom, oh freedom.

                 C           Cm

Well that’s just some people talking.

     G         Em                   A7    D7   G    D

Your prison is walking through this world all alone.

           Em                   Bm

Don’t your feet get cold in the winter time?

    C                      G

The sky won’t snow and the sun won’t shine.

     Em               C                   G   D

It’s hard to tell the night time from the day.

           Em              Bm

And you’re losing all your highs and lows

         C             G

ain’t it funny how the feeling goes

 Am  D   D7




G7             C            Cm

 Why don’t you come to your senses?

     G              Em      A7       D7

come down from your fences, open the gate.

          G      G7              C        Cm

It may be rainin’, but there’s a rainbow above you.

           G            Em

You better let somebody love you.

 C            Am

(let somebody love you)

           G       B7   Em

You better let somebody love you…ohhh..hooo

  Am        D7          G

before it’s too..oooo.. late.

G7  C Cm  G

On the Turning Away words by Anthony Moore music David Gilmour

On the turning away

From the pale and downtrodden

And the words they say

Which we won’t understand

“Don’t accept that what’s happening

Is just a case of others’ suffering

Or you’ll find that you’re joining in

The turning away

(Em)   (D)     G

It’s a sin that somehow

            C         Em

Light is changing to shadow

          D    G

And casting its shroud


Over all we have known

Em              C          G

Unaware how the ranks have grown

Em             G        C

Driven on by a heart of stone

G                        C   Em

We could find that we’re all alone

       D            G

In the dream of the proud

Em     D            G

On the wings of the night

       C          Em

As the daytime is stirring

          D         G

Where the speechless unite


In a silent accord

Em                    C         G

Using words you will find are strange

Em                     G         C

And mesmerized as they light the flame

G                    C

Feel the new wind of change

Em      D           G

On the wings of the night

Em   D   C

Em   D   Am

C    D   Am

C    D   Em

Em      D       G

No more turning away

         C           Em

From the weak and the weary

Em      D       G

No more turning away


From the coldness inside

Em                    C        G

Just a world that we all must share

Em                       G        C

It’s not enough just to stand and stare

G             C                 Em

Is it only a dream that there’ll be

        D       G

No more turning away?

Credits: All written text, song lyrics andmusic (including background music) written and composed by Quentin Bega unless otherwise specified in the credits section after individual posts. Illustrative excerpts from other texts identified clearly within each podcast. I donate to and use Wikipedia frequently as one of the saner sources of information on the web.

Technical Stuff: Microphone- Shure SM58; (for the podcast spoken content) Audio Technica AT 2020 front-facing with pop filter); Apogee 76K also used, from time to time, for songs and spoken text.

For recording and mixing down: 64-bit N-Track Studio 9 Extended used; Rubix 22 also used for mixing of microphone(s) and instruments. I use the Band in a Box/RealBand 2023 combo for music composition.


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