Sunday, May 31, 2020

Bill Cushing's Anniversary Poems

About a year ago Leon Redbone and Dr. John, two of Bill Cushing's favorite musicians, died.  For this reason, the image of a yahrzeit candle stuck in my mind when I decided to publish Bill's poems tonight.


Leon decked out in black, Ray-Bans perched on
a Syrid nose, his drooping moustache surrounds
the soul patch: a musical sage
peering from beneath that Panama hat.

Leon fretted multi-tonal sounds
from each and every timeless tune
with a voice sometimes smooth, then scat,
while coaxing that acoustic guitar.

Leon, ageless as a harvest moon,
did not die so much as exit the stage,
returning to the Araby bazaar,
and though gone, he continues to shine on.

Bill Cushing

So Long, Dr. John

Bid farewell to New Orleans’ favored son:
after more than a six-decade run
infusing sound with flamboyant fun,

we woke up to learn that Dr. John
had folded his sheet music and was gone.
He left us music that was c’est bon

making whoopee with syncopated ease
as hands danced and flirted across keys,
taking us back in time, but now he’s

in the right place at the wrong time.
He could make voodoo blues sublime
like Mardi Gras goes on all the time.

Bill Cushing

Both poems are in Bill's chapbook Music Speaks.  So are some of the other poems you may have read at The Song Is...  You may purchase a signed copy of the chapbook from him for $20 if you email him at  

Let's add a few songs for you tonight.  I'll start with Leon Redbone.

This performance of "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone" is from 1977:

This is Redbone's version of "Shine On Harvest Moon":

Here is his "Champagne Charlie":

And these are a few songs from Dr. John.

This version of "Right Place, Wrong Time" is from the 2012 Guitar Center's Battle of the Blues:

This version of "Gris Gris" is from the 1970 Piknik Dutch Festival:

I'll finish with his version of "Such a Night" from The Last Waltz:  

Enjoy, and see you later in the week!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Let's start up again with Bryn Fortey!

I knew that I was going to take a break this past fall, but I didn't realize how long it would be.  Yikes, it is now half past 2020!  Let's start up again with some poems from Bryn Fortey that he sent me a while back.  Thank you for your patience, Bryn!


My wife:
Concocter of culinary delights,
Knew how to tempt me
Into second helpings.

No follower of rules,
She produced her own versions
Of accepted recipes,
Making each meal an adventure.

“Thanks, love.” I would say,
Having dined on food
The god’s themselves would have savoured.

“You,” she would always reply,
In an effort to compliment me in return,
“Make the best cup of tea.”

Ten stirs to the left,
Ten stirs to the right,
Just a splash of milk.
Coffee can be milky
But tea is better strong.

Now my daughter says:
“You make a great cup of tea, Dad.”
Which is nice,
But I miss you, Maddalena,

Sit, lovely girl, (if only).
Rest a while, (if only),
Let me make you a cup of tea.

Bryn Fortey


Cool cats used it
Jack Kerouac dug it
Bulee Gaillard wrote it

Bulee “Slim” Gaillard:
Onetime boxer turned mortician
Delivered bootleg rum
For the Purple Gang
In specially adapted coffins
Before the music business
Grabbed his attention

A cult hipster
With genuine musical ability
His groove juice was special
His floogie flat-footed
And McVouty his language of choice

Top jazzmen recognised his worth
Dizzy Gillespie
Charlie Parker
Stan Kenton
Among those happy to use his talents

During World War II
He piloted B-26 bombers in the Pacific
Then later turned to acting
In both films and television
Later still relocating to London
Playing the European festival circuit

Give me that jive talk, Slim:
Oreenie, oroonie, floy floy.

Bryn Fortey


Old man sits on wooden chair
Alongside mini drum hit
Brushes wait, keen to start
As records play
Enhanced or spoilt by a backing
That no-one hears but him
Since the house is terraced
Sticks would likely earn complaints
But brushes make less noise
On drum and cymbal 
Caressing both with his own rhythms
Lost in this act of added participation
Passing time, filling space
Old man sits on wooden chair
Grateful for what remains
Not all has been abandoned
To the heartless march we all endure

Bryn Fortey

Let's start with Slim Galliard's "Dunkin' Bagels":

I guess his sequel was "Dunkin' Donuts."

You might be more familiar with his "Flat Foot Floogie":

Here is Clayton Cameron's "The Brushman Sweep":

Good night!  Hope to see you this weekend!