Walt Whitman wrote radical, body-as-sacred lyrics as a young man before the Civil War—similar times!!-- that are still radical today, maybe even more radical today, when the temptation to demonize “the enemy” is still so great:
“It seems to me there are other men, in other lands,
yearning and thoughtful…
It seems to me I can look over and behold them,
in Germany, Italy, France,
Spain, and far, far away in China, or in Russia, or Japan, talking other dialects,
and it seems to me, if I could know those men I would
Become attached to them as I do men in my own lands—
Oh, I know we would be brethren and lovers--
I know I would be happy with them!
One day by chance we pulled those lyrics off the bookshelf, and it was literally like the poet himself was whispering to us, telling us it was time for a baritone to sing his lines out loud—and sing them, finally, the passionate way they were meant to be sung, with all the music and soulfulness intact, for a new century.
One song led to the next, until we had at least a couple album’s worth of amazing, passionate songs we’re sure the poet would think are “full-blooded” in the way he was full-blooded, the way he meant his songs to be sung—as anthems to a new millennium:
Be not afraid of my body!
I am he who aches with amorous love!
That was the beginning of our "Full of Life" album, finished in time to start getting the songs known and celebrated in time for 2010, the 150th anniversary of “Calamus,” the third volume of “Leaves of Grass” where most of the poems come from. We've debuted the songs at our UCLA concert, as well as our local concerts at Highways Performance Space (www.highwaysperformance.org
) We’re taking them on the road, to celebrate the Whitman 150th.
When we're not performing/composing, we’re both counselors and music healers in Santa Monica, dedicating our healing work, our songwriting and our performances to connecting people once again with their belief in –- of all things—love.
Gary Glickman, two-time NEA fellowship recipient, is the author of the novels, Years From Now (Knopf/NAL) and Aura(Haworth), and musical settings of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and Virginia Woolf's Orlando. As a psychotherapist, he works at the piano with singing and movement.
Stephan David Hewitt is a singer, songwriter, pianist and electronic music composer, writer, and visual artist. His first album, Inroads (Dragonfly Music) has been called a collection of “Soundtracks For The Imagination.” With Gary Glickman, he teaches a course on Archetypal Journeys at UCLA.