Song of the Week--17 July 2006--Translucent Soul

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Sue Ellen
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Song of the Week--17 July 2006--Translucent Soul

Postby Sue Ellen » Mon Jul 17, 2006 5:43 am

Keeping with the CD Translucent Soul:

Translucent Soul
from the album Translucent Soul


I get a call from Vance he's an old friend
He's got some you-won't-believe-story to share
He's the place that I go when I need someone who knows me
He brings the smile of a billionaire

And I laugh when he pretends he's a white guy
'Cause he knows how bad I fail playing black
He says, "If even you could, I don't advise that you should
'Cause once you go there you might not want to turn back"


(chorus)
There isn't a thing
in this God-all-mighty world that I wouldn't do
to help him outta trouble
Seein' as how we're friends and
that goes deeper than skin can go
to a translucent soul
Deeper than color will show
translucent soul


He says, "Now, you and I, I know we look a little different,
but, I was raised middle class, same as you.
But, let's make it clear even on the way here,
I had to watch for blue lights in the rear view "
He says, "Last week, I was visiting L.A.,
walking the streets where the riots went down.
You got black killing black killing black killing black,
while all the whites were sweating bullets across town"


(chorus)


He says, "In L.A., they're whispering race war,
like it's something that has yet to begin
like they can plug up the cracks
in four hundred years of history
and prove that the melting pot's not broken"
He says, "In the event of some unlikely disaster,
we find ourselves armed, and face to face "
I said, "I'd turn around, I would protect your ground"
He said, "I'd do the same thing for you at your place"


(chorus)


There isn't a thing
in this God-all-mighty world that he wouldn't do
to help me outta trouble . . .

Embrace what you have in common,
celebrate what sets you apart
It takes more than the color
that you find on a palate
to turn humanity into an art
into the form of an art
translucent soul
translucent soul
soul


© Ellis Paul Music (SESAC) 1998
"...I implore you, I entreat you, I challenge you to speak with conviction, to say what you believe, in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it, because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker, it is not enough these days to "question" authority, you have to speak with it, too."
Taylor Mali, "Like, You Know?"

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Sue Ellen
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Postby Sue Ellen » Mon Jul 17, 2006 6:23 am

Another multi-layered song from Ellis that touches on individual characters, relationships, and major social issues with concise phrasing that captures complex themes and emotions. There are so many aspects to comment on (not the least of which is the deep and affectionate bond between Ellis and his compatriot Vance Gilbert), that I will take just one (I think it is just one), the aspect of race relations in America.

"In L.A., they're whispering race war,
like it's something that has yet to begin
like they can plug up the cracks
in four hundred years of history
and prove that the melting pot's not broken"


I think this is a reference to the "Race Riots" in 1992, in response to the trials of police officers charged with assaulting Rodney King.

(http://www.aaregistry.com/african_american_history/850/Rodney_King_riots_erupt_in_Los_Angeles)

I think in the U.S., it is very difficult for the non-minority population to fully grasp the lasting impact and damage of the particularly nasty brand of slavery practiced in the United States. On the one hand, it is difficult for non-minorities to overcome the conscious, subconsious, and unconscious stereotypes and prejudices they hold against the "denigrated other;" these stereotypes and prejudices have continued to impact race relations from reconstruction and the Jim Crow South through the segretion and the separate-and-unequal policies of the first half of the 20th Century, to the "class issues" including poverty that continue to affect African America. On the other hand, non-minorities do not want to address their past and continuing prejudices, expect people of colour to accept an "Oops, sorry," and go on with life as if nothing happened. Ellis Paul, brilliant as always, cuts to the chase in a few simple lines and phrases.

It's been my experience that many white people don't get something as simple as this:

"Now, you and I, I know we look a little different,
but, I was raised middle class, same as you.
But, let's make it clear even on the way here,
I had to watch for blue lights in the rear view "


That Ellis hears this, recognizes Truth, and translates it into words and song that communicate such deep meaning is evidence of his own translucent soul.

Sue Ellen
"...I implore you, I entreat you, I challenge you to speak with conviction, to say what you believe, in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it, because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker, it is not enough these days to "question" authority, you have to speak with it, too."
Taylor Mali, "Like, You Know?"

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Postby PotatoPicker » Mon Jul 17, 2006 8:40 am

I love how Ellis uses a very good and beautiful thing - his deep friendship with Vance - to hold a mirror up against soimething darker.

Sue Ellen - the part you quoted about looking in the rear view mirror is such a problem for all of us - we don't know what it is like to drive around looking in our rear view mirror all the time. We can't change the slavery of 300 or 200 or 140 years ago, and we can't change the sanctioned racism of the 20th century - but how do we change that perception today ? And if I hold that mirror up to myself - the pirror of today's perceptions and prejudices - how do I react - and how do I feel - when someone bumps into me at the pool club and I turn around and it's someone of African American heritage versus someone of European American heritage ? Or if I am walking into the mall one nightt and there's a group of young men hanging around the entrance - is my internal thought process any different ? Seems like until race is not part of my own thought process - or at least until skin color means as much to me (and no more) than hair color or eye color, that my view of society hasn't yet achieved that translucent view I want. Or the translucency that Ellis sings about.

In the end, whether we are talking about skin color, or religion, or age, or sex, or anything else, my favorite lines from this song should apply:
Embrace what you have in common,
celebrate what sets you apart


I think translucency isn't clear - it's a rainbow.
Jeff

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Postby wendy » Mon Jul 17, 2006 8:51 am

Ah, well said, Jeff and Sue Ellen.
One of the other things that I appreciate about this song is its placement on the CD. It forms a positive, warm and hopeful conclusion to what collection of songs that are frequently painful.

My favorite lines:
He says, "In the event of some unlikely disaster,
we find ourselves armed, and face to face "
I said, "I'd turn around, I would protect your ground"
He said, "I'd do the same thing for you at your place"


I like to think I'd be willing to do the same.
-wendy

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Postby Sue Ellen » Mon Jul 17, 2006 9:31 am

I think these are essential questions we have to ask ourselves, and only in the asking and the honest looking into our own souls, and own sterotypes and prejudices, can we begin to overcome them. I think as a non-minority, it is close to impossible to not have some of these beliefs deep and hidden in our psyche; on the one hand, color (and gender as well) give so much to who an individual is; it would be disrespectful to disregard that, to take an interest in the differences, appreciate, treasure, and allow them. On the other hand, differences should not dominate opinions and judgements of character.

When I hear this song, I think of this great insight from Dr. Maya Angelou:

I note the obvious differences between each sort and type,
But we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.


Sue Ellen
"...I implore you, I entreat you, I challenge you to speak with conviction, to say what you believe, in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it, because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker, it is not enough these days to "question" authority, you have to speak with it, too."
Taylor Mali, "Like, You Know?"

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Sue Ellen
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Postby Sue Ellen » Mon Jul 17, 2006 9:59 am

...And we are not alone in this matter; one just needs to read the headlines this morning to see how the hatred and abuse and denigration between groups causes devastation over millenia. The world is still ripe with racial/ethnic-based hatred and atrocities: Isrealis/Palatinians, Darfur, Ireland, Hutu/Tootsi...the list could go on and on and on.

Just one of the wonderful things about Ellis and his music is how it stimulates thought about more humane ways to treat each other.

Sue Ellen
"...I implore you, I entreat you, I challenge you to speak with conviction, to say what you believe, in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it, because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker, it is not enough these days to "question" authority, you have to speak with it, too."
Taylor Mali, "Like, You Know?"

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Postby Richard + Jela » Mon Jul 17, 2006 11:26 am

To me the song is so much about a strong friendship - you know that each one of them would do anything for the other. In fact I've heard Ellis talk about the friendship between him and Vance, I think it's on the 3000 miles DVD, so this song really does bring home the closeness they have developed over many years.

There's a saying that goes something like 'we can't choose our family but we can choose our friends' - the sentiments expressed in the song clearly make you believe that these two, Ellis and Vance, have both chosen well.

Having close friends that you can rely on in any circumstances is a true gift.

Jela

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Postby PotatoPicker » Mon Jul 17, 2006 1:30 pm

Ellis's book as a nice bit in it also about his friendship with Vance, and how it transcends family, and race, and backgrounds..... very telling. And a nice reinforcement of Jela's point about choosing friends.
Jeff

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Postby Sue Ellen » Tue Jul 25, 2006 1:53 pm

I am sorry I missed this article, timely to our discussion:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/14/AR2006071401398.html?sub=AR

The final paragraph is especially moving:

It took a 16-year-old to bring all these realities of life in Georgetown, past and present, home to me. As a foreigner who remains deeply attached to America, I find it bewildering how so self-reverential a country can proclaim that all men are created equal but then proceed to implement racist oppression that manifestly expresses the reverse. The truth that my son and I discovered is that for many decades, blacks in Georgetown were treated little better than rats.


Sue Ellen
Last edited by Sue Ellen on Tue Jul 25, 2006 2:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"...I implore you, I entreat you, I challenge you to speak with conviction, to say what you believe, in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it, because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker, it is not enough these days to "question" authority, you have to speak with it, too."
Taylor Mali, "Like, You Know?"

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Postby KarenZ » Tue Jul 25, 2006 2:04 pm

It's 2:03pm and I'm listening to "transulcent soul" on WUMB! I hear EP almost every day on WUMB. My kind of station. ;)

Karenz
"Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. It is a kind of talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are the spectator in the gallery or you are listening to the voice of the world's greatest soprano. Not everyone can be the artist. There have to be those who witness the art, who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see." -- Ann Patchett in Bel Canto.

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Postby Sue Ellen » Tue Jul 25, 2006 2:18 pm

Synchronicity I think.

There is this companion article as well:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/14/AR2006071401396.html

Sue Ellen
"...I implore you, I entreat you, I challenge you to speak with conviction, to say what you believe, in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it, because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker, it is not enough these days to "question" authority, you have to speak with it, too."
Taylor Mali, "Like, You Know?"

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Postby KarenZ » Tue Jul 25, 2006 2:32 pm

Thanks for the links, Sue Ellen. I've printed the articles to read later this evening.

TS contains one of my favorite EP lines. You probably remember that it was my signature file on the old board....and it's actually imprinted on my personal checks (giving EP credit, of course!). A simple but ever so affirming design for living:

"Embrace what you have in common, celebrate what sets you apart"

KarenZ
"Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. It is a kind of talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are the spectator in the gallery or you are listening to the voice of the world's greatest soprano. Not everyone can be the artist. There have to be those who witness the art, who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see." -- Ann Patchett in Bel Canto.


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