Tag Archives: Folksong

O, Lion

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In the year 1900, Pablo Picasso moved to Paris. He was around twenty and already the wonderboy of Barcelona.

Picasso quickly gathered a group of friends, an international circle of artists and writers whose daring and talent changed Western Art forever. Guillaume Apollinaire, poet and sometime pornographer, coined the term “Cubism” and died, regretful for dying young, of the Spanish Flu on Armistice Day, 1918. Max Jacob, who liked to fly high on Ether, pioneered absurdist poetry. Artists like Soutine, Matisse, Braque, and Modigliani were all part of the scene. Expatriot American writer Gertrude Stein facilitated the success of modern art with her salons.

“O, Lion” is a line from one of Guillaume Apollinaire’s poems: Oh, lion, unhappy image of sadly fallen kings … These artists saw the fall of the old empires and were part of the new, modern spirit of rebellion. They were serious about art and reckless with it, producing for their time and place and for eternity. They believed in the importance of their moment and in each other. In order to sing my tribute to them, I had to make myself into an old barber, finding an old razor blade with Picasso’s blood on it. That old barber was young in 1902. He kept that old blade for the rest of his life.

Pablo Picasso and Max Jacob, early twentieth century. Photo from Tumblr.

The Snow On the Pine

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The Snow On the Pine, (c) Jennifer M. Peal

I’ll be releasing my new album, Receiver, this spring. This track is a stark folk ballad. The Snow on the Pine is a story told in intimacy after a few glasses of wine. Maybe she will come to regret her loose tongue …

I came to Chama with the snow on the pine
Along with my husband who worked in a mine
He told my parents when he asked for me
That a man could make fortunes in the silver country

My mother said,daughter, watch out what you do
You can’t trust a husband who’s younger than you
But we mde plans for leaving, my cattle I sold
And we headed for Chama up the high mountain road

Good-bye, Tucumcari, my dear family
I’m ready to marry, I’m past thirty-three
But love’s a rare treasure and love makes you blind
When it’s fresh and unspoiled, like the snow on the pine

He wasn’t a miner, there wasn’t a claim
He made all his living by the luck of the game
The surname he gave me wasn’t event his own
And he played with my money until it was gone

My new baby son asleep in his bed
My husband burst in with a gun to his head
Both men demanded I settle a debt
But the one with the gun said he’d have me instead

Marry an old man, your love he will crave
Marry a young man, he’ll make you his slave
Marry a gambler and one day you will find
Their heart hgas turned cold like the snow on the pine

I hid all I earned from the work that I found
washing the clothes of the miners in town
Winters are lasting but summers are brief
as the life of a gambler in the silver country

I paid off his liquor, I paid off his debt
I paid off his killer without a regret
Alone with my conscience, but I have been told
That Chama has widows like Denver has gold

And now my dear sisters I’m not what I was
You know me before I gambled on love
Men speak of treasure to be found in a mine
while love melts away with the snow on the pine

Pegasus Project: Greenland Whale Fisheries

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Pegasus Project, my 1990’s Celtic band comprised of Rupert Crabb, Linda Relph and myself, really drew on Rupert’s love for sea shanties and whaling songs. As a folk-song lover from my early childhood, his repertoire was a joy to work with, as was he. We had a standing gig at the old Tipperary Inn on Lower Greenville in Dallas, and for awhile after it moved down on Skillman. We also enjoyed playing the North Texas Irish Festival and other events in our region.