©2004 linka a odom

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Maurice Sendak died today.

Maurice Sendak died today.

This past weekend we played a Where the Wild Things Are themed birthday party where I read Sendak's book onstage over a Bebop soundtrack.

So the news landed sort of strange with me.

I shouldn't be surprised because that's the way the circle spins. But my heart still feels a little wobbly and swollen inside.

I like Sendak's work because he was one of the first to put emotions into children's books rather than just sing-songy rhymes and cutesy fluff. And his drawings were fun to climb inside and explore.

Wanted to post one of his quotes, and an illustration from a favorite book called A Hole is to Dig.

Adios Maurice. I bet there's a wild rumpus up in heaven tonight.Maurice Sendak illustration

"Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children's letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, 'Dear Jim: I loved your card.' Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, 'Jim loved your card so much he ate it.' That to me was one of the highest compliments I've ever received. He didn't care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it." ― Maurice Sendak

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Backwards Songs

We are experimenting with "Backwards Songs" on The Harmonica Pocket 's twitter page http://twitter.com/harmonicapocket

A song will be presented line-by-line, but in reverse order. So you will read the last line first and slowly work your way up to the first line of the song over a period of time -- a backwards song. Once the full song lyrics are online, we will post the title of the song as well as a link to download an mp3 recording of the song.

The hashtag "#sgnos" looks like Latin, but is just the word "songs" spelled backwards.

Songs and poems are made up of lines. A line is not always a complete sentence, and sometimes it breaks in an unexpected place.  Hopefully, each line will be able to stand on its own, and individual lines will add up into the images of the song as it unfolds backwards.

DM, RT, or Let us know what you think.

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a mosquito is loose

there is a mosquito loose in the room. all the doors and windows shut tight. she spins her wings and her tiny insect siren sings a haunting, whining pitch.

my unchecked reaction is to kill her, but this i do not truly wish. but i do not want to wake up with another nose bitten onto my nose.

if she approaches i'll turn her off with the light. until then, all i can do is listen to her song to keep myself awake.

where is she? is this her ultimate victory lap? can she smell death like a surgeon does blood?

if you leave me alone i'll leave you alone. deal?

goodnight little mosquito, i'm going to bed.

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"do you know what you're doing?"
i thought at the hitch-hiking fly.

we woke up with you in ritter, oregon
and if you've never heard
of ritter it's because it's far away.

and now here we are
on the colville indian reservation
in washington state
and you're still with us
two, three days later.

so good luck,
i hope you know
what you're doing.

i'm opening the window now.

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Etymology of the band name "The Harmonica Pocket"

I don't normally get excited about clothing, but I've been digging clothes that are about the same age as me. The 70s were just a good time for that stuff — big collars, bell bottoms, racing stripes and those bright colors designers don't dare to match anymore.

A few of the old zip-up sweatshirts had a single, asymmetrical pocket on one side of the belly. These pockets were perfectly tailored to fit a harmonica and a few years back became privately known to me as "the harmonica pocket."

The phrase became part of my vocabulary in the same way other mundane things like "the refrigerator" or "the glove compartment" sounded to my ears. I would find myself saying things like "Would you grab my plastic cowboy — the one shooting his gun with his hat falling off — it's in my harmonica pocket." And my friends would be like "What?!" So I've always been explaining what The Harmonica Pocket is to somebody.

As I was putting together this concept for the band — a rotating caste of players invited to do their musical thing within the context of my songs — a few different band name possibilities were on the list. One was "Lemonbomb" and another was "The Celica Project" (two more stories completely). I really liked the rhythm of words "Harmonica Pocket" and thought it tied well with the theme of where I wanted the band to go. As if you could sort of pull just about anything out of your Harmonica Pocket and not be all that surprised.

And it stuck.

After a few years of playing shows under this name someone asked me why there weren't any harmonicas in the band. At the time it honestly hadn't occurred to me that that would be important. Maybe a name like "Pocket Harmonic" would have been more apropos but, like I said, I liked the rhythm of the words coming out of my mouth and there was a personal backstory.

I couldn't stop thinking about it and bought one of those awkward Bob Dylan harmonica-holder-thingies and never looked back.


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Q&A about the album ladybug one

1. was this CD recorded using solar energy only?

ladybug one was primarily recorded at our off-the-grid studio using solar electricity. we use photovoltaic (solar) panels that convert sunlight into electricity.  the electricity is stored in batteries (kinda like big car batteries all wired together).   while recording, we run an inverter to convert the power in the batteries to AC the same type of power found in most homes.  then we just run the recording equipment -- computers, harddrives, amps, -- pretty much the same way other studios do.  but during the winter when the sun doesn't shine for long stretches of time we have to take lots of unexpected breaks until the batteries get recharged by the sun.

when we overdubbed some of the musicians, logistically we had to use whatever traditional power source was available at the different studios we visited. additionally the mastering of the album took place at another studio which was not solar powered.

2. what sounds am i hearing in the song "o susanna"?

the non-western sounds you are hearing are sitar and tablas. the song has been arranged in a North Indian Classical style with a new time signature of 5/4.  deobrat mishra is the master sitar player who recorded on that song.  he had never heard this traditional american song before, so it was fun to teach it to him.  marco zonka plays tablas and percussion.

3. how many artists form the core group for the harmonica pocket?

right now the core band is made up of the 3 players listed with the album. nala walla, jon ryser, and keeth apgar.  but why limit the sounds on a studio album to what the 3 of us can make?  that's why i invited over 20 of my friends to sit-in on songs and offer their musical ideas.  i also invited -- with parental consent -- a bunch of young friends and students to sing, talk and laugh.

4. is an african thumb piano used in "mbira dreaming"?

yes. the instrument's name is "mbira." the mbira has been played for hundreds of years by the "shona" people who live in what is now zimbabwe.

5. is a "musical saw" used in the song "one tree said"?

yes, played by bob antone. bob comes from a logging family in the cascade mountains of washington state.  for this song we wanted to feature the saw -- normally used as a tool to cut down trees up -- to both create the haunting sounds and to reference the lyrics.


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the mirror

i'll go for days
without looking
at the mirror

it's freer to forget
about my wrapper
and feel my nougat
from the inside out

in these times
i walk around
the sidewalks

and self unconscious
of my appearance

and can work on just feeling good

nope, i am not going to look
in the mirror again today

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afro fella

afro fella doodle from a high school notebook

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after viewing the stinkingest,
fly-eattingest outhouse
of all and ever,
with its cracked away seat
and stained, sullen floor;
and then later stumbling
upon the white-tile porcelain throne
in the puerto-rican tropical lab oasis,
i prayed:

o heavenly chair,
with not a single hair
deliver me from evil
and, may i sit on your lap?


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The Celica Project

Poetness has to do with seeing things (rusty, shiny); It is the reduction to simplicity of something that can stand on its own.

This is why, in the way we effortlessly see things, everyday people are poets. The natural, intuitive awareness of experience arrives without strain.

The poets whose names and poems we remember are only known because they were particularly disciplined about keeping pencils sharpened and being able to find something to write on.

Some dogs, the way they lay in the shade smelling the afternoon, are poets. All cats are poets.

Drive across the county in a Toyota and all you see are Celicas.

Everything appears obvious after it has been stated by the mind.


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thoughts on the song "butterfly eyelash":

there are times in my days where i feel weaker than most. the stones in the dam i built are weakening, being pulled down the creek by the weight of the water behind. and i can sense this breaking inside my head. your song helps along many of these sticks and stones, loosening every thing inside.

it’s in everything. in the tone of that first guitar: DOOUNG—dong. that’s sadness in there. pay attention, you are listening to saddness. i love tracing that snare drum. i can sit right on top of it.

in listening to the song it is part of my consciousness that i am missing many of the words—some are of that famous un-utterability where ears replace the authors with their own magical madness which bears some semblance to what was originally there.

i hear:

left like you to lose…
and i take
the best of your bad taste
christmas clean
you rise with the tide: slide”

the result, the tally, is more of a composite than a clear and complete understanding. but i don’t care what or why it is or ain’t something or other….gosh, it’s just beautiful.

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cigarette flower

how terribly sad i was
when you left.
your tiny brown feet
carrying you away.

and now, in this cold café
all your spoons are washed
and all that’s left
are two crushed cigarette butts,
a couple spent matches,
and some ash:

the only traces of you.

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crawl a bug

crawl a bug onto your fingertip
lettem perch and if he begs
to walk about your knuckle mounds
lettem patter all those legs

don’t stoppem at the backle hand
or palms if he insists
lettem rollie pollie roll around
your elbow to your wrist

and when his scales your shoulder blade
and gets you feeling weird
lettem keep’a tickling
up your neck into your ear

but if the bug’rs mannerless
and gnawing on your head
puttem back on your fingertip
and makem beg again


droppem underneath your foot
and make the bug be dead.


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so i'll tell ya

once a bug jumped.
then he did a flip.
(so far he lept and flept)

i once saw
a see-saw wobble.
then it didn’t either.
so i wept.

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(p.s.) an unannounced related poem:

the buddhist dancing
with the hot air balloon
basket. a vision
of himself flying.

in circles, soaring
from the ground.

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