Posts Tagged ‘rodeo for the sheepish’
Video by: Jacob Mendel
— By Michael Mechanic Mon Oct. 18, 2010 4:00 AM PDT
Excerpt from article:
MJ: What about something totally outside your genre?
GM: I like to think there’s no outside; that I can hear whatever has a claim to make, but if you’d asked me if I were interested in poetry set to music, I’d probably say no. When I heard Ellyn Maybe’s “City Streets” on KALX in Berkeley I had no idea what it was, just that I was transfixed. I called up the DJ, went to Amoeba Records, couldn’t find it, wrote away—and after listening to Maybe’s album Rodeo for the Sheepish (Hen House) half a dozen times, I had no idea who the people behind it were—a poet, and a musician/singer who sounds like many of himself, or for that matter her-himself. But there’s a pathos cut with self-lacerating humor that makes this the most surprising and painful music I’ve come across.
Video by: Nisey Jay and Riccardo Spinotti
Thu., September 30, 7:30pm
By Falling James
In her song-poem “There Were Two Girls Who Looked a Lot the Same,” the local poet Ellyn Maybe celebrates her titular subjects with a profusion of succinct details and a steadily rhythmic accumulation of playful phrases, such as “One wore lipstick/One bit her lip” and “The astronomy was tangible” and “They had eyelashes that looked like a hula skirt made of coal.” When Maybe declared, “They wanted a bite from each world,” she was marveling about how the girls appreciated both Gidget movies and Tennessee Williams plays. However, the L.A. wordsmith could have also been describing the sinuous way she moves between the worlds of poetry and music on her new CD, Rodeo for the Sheepish . Maybe’s homages to Picasso and Sylvia Plath are infused with beat-driven, soulful trip-hop moods from her simpatico band, who’ll not only back her tonight at this monthly event but will also whip up cool grooves for adventurous poets in the audience, who’d like to marry their words with this mysterious thing called music.
Last.FM Bio: Of Ellyn Maybe’s new poetry/music CD, Rodeo for the Sheepish, the legendary rock critic Greil Marcus wrote, “I heard half of the long, quietly mesmerizing “City Streets” on the radio—what was this? A woman with a poem, with music and a sung chorus not behind her but circling her, and the poem neither exactly recited nor sung, but spoken with such a lilt, in a voice so full of miserabilist pride—at forty, a woman is still getting high-school insults tossed at her (“Hey Mars girl,” a man shouts on the street, “get off the Earth”)—that it’s music in and of itself. There is no bottom to Maybe’s inventiveness, to her adoption of Nirvana’s Oh well whatever never mind as an artistic tool, to a confidence that allows her to toss off a bedrock statement on the American character (“There are people / who know the cuckoo is the state bird / of most states of mind”) in a throwaway voice so that its humor hits you not as a joke but as an echo. There is nothing like this album except for the real life it maps.”
Author of eight books of poetry but even better known for her engagaging personality and performances, Ellyn was convinced by fans from the music world to adapt her spoken-word prowress to a musical format. Their delight at the results can be seen from a few typical reactions:
- Jackson Browne – “I have started to write something about you…several times, and each time I am struck by my inability to describe what you do in terms beautiful enough, original enough to do you justice. … Who has ever been able to say in other words what a song says? Maybe it’s why I like your poems so much; they say what can only be said in exactly the way you say it. The best way of turning someone on to you is to play you for them.”
- Henry Rollins – “Ellyn Maybe is an irresistible force. To…listen to her poetry is to be gently and completely crushed while simultaneously inspired and charmed. The honesty with which she so exquisitely reveals her vulnerabilities, desires and pain is beautiful and rare. … Reading Ellyn’s poems from the page is one thing but hearing…them just the way she meant them to be heard is something else altogether. … The musical accompaniment on the album is not mere background filler but a true collaborative effort between Ellyn and the musicians that really works.
I have started to write something about you for your site several times, and each time I am struck by my inability to describe what you do in terms beautiful enough, original enough to do you justice. But it’s always been this way. Who has ever been able to say in other words what a song says? Maybe it’s why I like your poems so much, they say what can only be said in exactly the way you say it. The best way of turning someone on to you is to play you for them. – Jackson Browne
Video by: Nisey Jay and Riccardo Spinotti
“Fans of spoken word CDs and lovers of slam poetry with a nerd-girl edge should seek this CD out as soon as they finish reading this review, as should anyone curious to see the highs to which this blended art form can aspire. I cannot recommend Rodeo for the Sheepish enough.” – JoSelle Vanderhooft for Pedestal Magazine
///This video was a contribution to Ellyns online zine http://www.rodeowrite.com/ please visit and contribute your own work to the Rodeo!