Ode to the Young and the Free by Emily Busch

The 2 year old who I watch broke my necklace the other day. I saw it coming. He wanted to see it and I knew it would fall victim and I accepted its fate ahead of time. Then, the dropping of heavy glass beads on wooden flooring, the attempt to scoop up the beads rolling as fast as pinballs. Hanging out with kids, there is something about the little hands of toddlers half resting on yours as you read to them stories made by adults for the little heads of those hands. But then also the resistance, the no, no, no. Mornings of these kind of movements of time are somewhat like the varying segments of classical pieces with their lulled string parts then thwacks and cracks and shrieks. All of this inside before leaving the door and entering the neighborhood.

I handed the postal worker my package underneath the bullet proof glass. He looked at the return address with a kind of say it ain't so disgust and said, "Tell me your name isn't Barbara!" I knew exactly where he was going with it, him assuming my name was Barbara Bush. I said "So I don't share the same last name, if you can see on the envelope my name is with a C but why was it you asked?" He replied "Well, that would of been a curse!". The man set about wanting to make me more aware of a plague on my name that wasn't actually my name. It was slightly distracting but like so much when your taking care of a small child it remains this peripheral moment of adult awkwardness.

I left and walked out onto the street carrying this attempted curse on top of the stroller with all of the other things I had with me. Bottles, snack paks, a trash picked double vinyl of Artie Shaw, and lots of small rocks filling up a back pouch like some practice in modern day sisaphism. An older woman with a grocery cart and big straw hat passed like a projected prism of my future self. "There will always be things and the carrying of them" I thought to myself as we shifted our weights around each other in the passing.This neighborhood is being busted apart and huge holes of earth are everywhere. Active and sleeping Japanese named construction machinery lines the streets. It's this little boy's dream. Being at this stage in which there is hardly any back context for him he can just bask in the sheer delight of movement and noise. I admire his joy but know too much. Still I try to align myself so it can be a group effort.

We ramble around, our journey dotted with practicality and absurdity as it always seems to be when spending time with a 2 year old. He is old enough now to know the thrift store and when we are passing it and that inside its core is a place/space that keeps the toys. We go in there and tinker with them like its our workshop. In new stores you can't tinker, you can't have the spit second of jolt to your heart when you discover the batteries still work in the grubby keyed rainbow colored key-tar. He goes right for the construction vehicles. Plops on the floor with no mind to shopping cart widths. I see the mask on the top shelf. The exaggerated rubber caricature style mask that I forever associate now with the movie Point Break. The kind of mask that you see lining the shelves of those year round Halloween shops in some strip mall on a road between here and there. Someone jimmy-rigged it with garter sequins like a flapper's tacky headdress. "Hey look at this!" I grabbed it in my hands. He stared up blankly. "Will you wear this?" I asked, but the mask was many times too large even with the elastic band.

I slowly brought the mask of George W. to his head and strung it on him as it slipped and faced backwards as he ran away goofily. The days serendipity was lost to him. He was again strutting that jolly swagger of lack of past, where objects are objects and associations and stranger's curses are dessimated in the glory of the young and the free. 

 

 

New Word Shrines To Age Old Women by Emily Busch

i have never not been inspired to write because of women. women of the past. women of the now. women of the future. remembering grandmothers. trying to leave inspiration trails for nieces. thanks to mothers. 

i have always felt such an invincibility with music. but not like a Marvel suit. quite the opposite. it's the trusting in knowing that being completely vulnerable is the only way to truly get free. this has brought me to my latest tinkerings, a handful of song poems i wrote about the seven Greek goddesses. i say song poems because my intention is to sing them at some point with melody and harmony and who knows what else, but i felt an urgency to give them to you all now as a kind of bird on tape, as audio shrines for all times. each one is an impression i took from each archetype. reading about them made me feel more in tune and at peace with this grander picture of where we come from, all that we contain, and how to balance it all. it made me realize how much all our roles and energies and instincts are needed at different times in our own lives, the lives of those around us, and the world at large.

 

i encourage you to look some of these goddesses up if any peak your curiosity. i hope these reflections give you fire or water depending what you call from it. each day can call differently. we've gotten here through both stumbling and strutting and it's always been this way. i'm here for the non-judgment. i'm here to share stories and build courage in these strange times. 

love, bird. 

 

 

 

Artemis

Eternal chastity

Moon trinity

Descend into the trees

Take care of the mothers

Protect the young

And be a friend to me

Oh unerring aim

Oh artemis

Nymphs and hound-dogs

And female bears

All the tomboys without a care

The lioness

And wild horses

The stag,the doe,the hare

Oh grandeur and silence

Oh artemis

You’ve kept it all at bow’s length

And time is passing by

It’s no longer black and white

And it gets harder to hit bull’s eye

Oh you’re running out of wilderness

Oh artemis

Goddess of the Hunt

At home in the night

A howl is your tune

Everything shifts

Consider your gifts

As the Goddess of the Moon

 

Hestia

Hestia

Keeper of the hearth

Everything is stop and start

A woman’s work is high art

Hestia

Stoker of the flame

Solitude will find her

In the railcars of her brain

When I was dreaming of Hestia

I was thinking how I need her so

Maiden aunt of the white light

Flickering to and fro

Every mantle with a

Candle in her name

And poetry we wrote for her

That’s as wild as its tame

Hestia

Cancel out the noise

You’re not one of the girls

You’re not one of the boys

Hestia

Beholden to none

But willing to listen

To everyone

Hestia

Anymore we want proof

But mystery resides

Under your temple’s roof

 

Athena

Owl eyes

So logical and wise

And you’re not falling for no sob story

Queen Bee

Head over heart

You’re going straight for the glory

I’m offering this olive branch

from the tree you gifted me

Forgive me for taking the low road

Have some sympathy

Owl eyes

Born of a man’s mind

And you never had a mother

Queen Bee

Cool executor

Living the golden mean

I’m offering this olive branch

From the tree you gifted me

I’m always so rebellious

It’s my defense for reality

Owl eyes

Your father’s prize

And you rarely have illusions

Queen Bee

Nobody’s victim

It’s all thru moderation

I’m offering this olive branch

From the tree you gifted me

Don’t hate me for being downtrodden

In your namesake city

Owl Eyes

Medusa shield

Someday you’ll defend us

Queen Bee

Cut off from her sisters

Someday we’ll amend this

I’m offering this olive branch

From the tree you gifted me

Reconcile your broken line

To matrilinity

 

Hera

Yang and the Yin

Original Sin

Not so carbon copies

A union is made

Honeymoon to the grave

Pack up the jalopy

It’s in this bond she grows

It’s in this bond she knows

The Masculine

Meets the Feminine

To complete the sun-bow

Tribulations and trials

Revered and Reviled

The green-eyed monster

But it’s still in this bond she grows

It’s in this bond she knows

The Masculine

Meets the feminine

Alchemy abounds

 

Demeter

Don’t tie your apron strings taut to your back

Let them flip into the black

Constellate

Not cradle the cat

Cause love isn’t meant to do that

Gather the harvest behold the bounty

Rest in the fact that you nurture so many

Constellate

Not cradle the cat

Cause love isn’t meant to do that

The nest can go empty and your candle burns out

And you whisper to the woods when you really want to shout

Constellate

Not cradle the cat

Cause love isn’t meant to do that

The stove top is brimming with the meals you make

And life always seems like a give and take

Constellate

Not cradle the cat

Cause love isn’t meant to do that

 

Persephone

Eyes on the back of her head

And ears all over her body

Bones that are microphones

And toes made of noses

She's going to the river

It’s the river beneath the river

Yes you’ll find her deep below

The river beneath the river

Ground is freezing over

Streams slow like molasses

The inner earth is steaming

And fogging up her glasses

She's going to the river

The river beneath the river

Yes you’ll find her deep below

The river beneath the river

A fallow field to springtime yields

Returning to the mother

Births and deaths and cycle’s breaths

Returning to the mother

Now she's here at the river

The river beneath the river

To receive the river

The river beneath the river


Aphrodite

Free of time

With all the beauty in the world

Sea foam and feathers

A shell with a pearl

Spotlight glow

It’s like some old time movie

Things will drop away

And you’ll move right through me

Sensuality is our rite/right

We learned this from you

Even though this world

Makes it a tricky thing to do

Muse of Valentines  

Placed in a heart shaped box

The whore the slut

They can all kick rocks

So much more

Is what we come to know

When we allow each other

The space to sow

Free of time

With all the beauty in the world

Sea Foam and feathers

A shell with a pearl




























 

 

10 Year Wing Span. by Emily Busch

This week amidst the cacophony of my life  I quietly realized that this year, and it's almost done, marks the 10 year anniversary of the release of my first record The Ways We Try. It was my first long play album intention, a culmination of songs that were trying to explain myself and my city (Philly) through music with the help of friends in a studio that no longer exists in the marshlands by the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.

It was the project that made me completely transfixed by the process of recording. I remember us playing things and then coming into the control room and feeling that literal warmth from the analog gear hearth. For some, recording is tedious and anxiety inducing. For me, it's where the world allows me to finally just be. In some ways, these past ten years have felt like a by all means necessary attempt at getting myself back to that hearth over and over again. So much tetris-ing of time and schedules and funds to make it all happen and work but it felt natural in that I couldn't muster that much passion for anything else. Even still I have so much protective endless love for this process.

It can seem cruel the rate now at which recordings get eaten by the world versus how much goes into the process. Sometimes it feels like they get digested in the way a late night drunk blazes through a cupboard, or even more sadly, never digested at all like a forgotten non perishable soup can on some basement hutch. But I don't think that has changed the magic of it for me and I return to this beloved form again and again cause I do believe it's what makes up my core being. For me, it is a personal truth.

To revisit and celebrate this recording you can download it here for free at this link: https://birdiebuschmusic.bandcamp.com/album/the-ways-we-try

 

Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter Birdie Busch has one of those voices that draws you in on the first phrase and breathes you out at the end of the record. It's not devastatingly beautiful, brimming with venom, or capable of coaxing small birds from their nests, but it's as familiar as storm clouds in July and as easy to ingest as a small-town milkshake. Busch and her slightly funky, sometimes quirky, and always-relaxed backing band blow through 11 slices of East Coast humor, pathos, and earnest observation that treat the word "pretense" as if it never existed. From the gentle swing of "Cup" to the bluesy Randy Newman-esque closer "Room Above the City," The Ways We Try is so subtle in its execution that it may get lost among the bevy of louder, lamer, and more opulent acts of 2006, but if the business were fair, and the cream really did rise to the top, there would be one less employee doing the serving.  released September 23, 2006 Bar None Records   Darcy Ataman Vocal Producer Joe B Guitar, Main Personnel, Slide Guitar Birdie Busch Guitar, Main Personnel, Primary Artist, Vocals Ivan Funk Drums, Lap Steel Guitar, Main Personnel Devin Greenwood Audio Production, Bass, Drums (Snare), Engineer, Guitar (Bass), Guitar (Electric), Harmonica, Lap Steel Guitar, Main Personnel, Mixing, Organ, Percussion, Piano, Producer, Vocals (Background) Jerry Klause Executive Producer, Main Personnel, Percussion Christopher Luxton Artwork, Layout Design Matt Muir Drums, Main Personnel Neil Simpkins Drums, Main Personnel Emily Zeitlyn Main Personnel, Vocals (Background) Rachel Russell Intern Engineer Cover art by Alex Da Corte

Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter Birdie Busch has one of those voices that draws you in on the first phrase and breathes you out at the end of the record. It's not devastatingly beautiful, brimming with venom, or capable of coaxing small birds from their nests, but it's as familiar as storm clouds in July and as easy to ingest as a small-town milkshake. Busch and her slightly funky, sometimes quirky, and always-relaxed backing band blow through 11 slices of East Coast humor, pathos, and earnest observation that treat the word "pretense" as if it never existed. From the gentle swing of "Cup" to the bluesy Randy Newman-esque closer "Room Above the City," The Ways We Try is so subtle in its execution that it may get lost among the bevy of louder, lamer, and more opulent acts of 2006, but if the business were fair, and the cream really did rise to the top, there would be one less employee doing the serving. 

released September 23, 2006 Bar None Records  

Darcy Ataman Vocal Producer
Joe B Guitar, Main Personnel, Slide Guitar
Birdie Busch Guitar, Main Personnel, Primary Artist, Vocals
Ivan Funk Drums, Lap Steel Guitar, Main Personnel
Devin Greenwood Audio Production, Bass, Drums (Snare), Engineer, Guitar (Bass), Guitar (Electric), Harmonica, Lap Steel Guitar, Main Personnel, Mixing, Organ, Percussion, Piano, Producer, Vocals (Background)
Jerry Klause Executive Producer, Main Personnel, Percussion
Christopher Luxton Artwork, Layout Design
Matt Muir Drums, Main Personnel
Neil Simpkins Drums, Main Personnel
Emily Zeitlyn Main Personnel, Vocals (Background)

Rachel Russell Intern Engineer

Cover art by Alex Da Corte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHANGES by Emily Busch

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the morning after

fox news closes their segment

with Bowie's "Changes"

 

do they realize that

he is a bisexual

hero of all freaks?

 

I never quite could

understand how so many

can separate their psyches

 

it's all connected

everything is everything

its my basic rule

 

you cannot use art  

and expect that true essence

will give itself up

 

until you honor

the fabric of the lives lived

their splendor and mess

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a poem at the gate of a new birth year// by Emily Busch

I say the word     love

I say it more than ever

like I'm an opera singer

warming up for the stage

lalalalalalalala love

lalalalalalalala love

living things respond

both animal and human varieties

wrap their necks to mine in a

delicate swan maneuver

 

here come the knee-jerk loves

falling out of my mouth

where does this hardening come from

I hear so many speak of

this calcifying

over time?

 

for me

I work the love

like lemon oil

on leather

like fridge butter

brought to hot toast 

Outlier Inn Day #5 by Emily Busch

For someone such as I who holds music in great regard recording sessions, especially ones that fall in an elongated blocked timeframe such as this one for my friend Jesse and his group, are extra special. It's when musicians get to be themselves in a world that seems to always challenge their purpose Suddenly, if only for a short while, they are given the time, the space, and the tools to do what they are best at, a proper chance to romance with the things they dedicate so much of their head and heart space to.  I love to partake in this, whether it's me recording music or observing my kindreds in the process and helping them make the most of that time. We only have a couple more days here, then back to the bustle of our Philadelphia days. 

I'm continuing on in my writing songs based off greek goddess archetypes, which will be a whole other post at some point. I'm continuing to wander around the country side of upstate New York's Borsch Belt. I am hyper aware of how different we Americans are living, and feel the deep division of our countrymen and can understand why. If I lived my whole life down one of these country lanes how could I ever understand the context of my Philly neighborhood in Germantown? We live these lives and in some regards all we have is the small window of news outlets to show us how each other live, or misinform us about how each other lives. 

I can say that despite the differences hard times seems ubiquitous. Rural poverty and disinvestment is just as real as the job drought in cities. Our country had so many more forms of jobs and industry that are just gone and buildings pepper every road from here to northwest Philly that are shells of the past. 

Both introspectively and societally all seems to be at turning points but still not quite in focus. I/we are working on it. 

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Outlier Inn Day #1 by Emily Busch

Sometimes both humans and inanimate objects need to put themselves out to pasture in the peculiar context of the countryside. I'm settling in after a day at Outlier Inn, a recording studio and all around many things place in the Catskills of New York. I'm taking it as an opportunity to regroup my brain and write new songs inspired by greek goddess archetypes but also taking long walk-hikes with the dog and seeing where my brain wanders with all its five senses in tow. I'm finding mattress springs in charred bonfire pits in abandoned yards that look like Calder creations and stuffing my pockets with oxidized copper colored moss the texture of a dried out kitchen sponge. It's bringing me giddy delight. Something about the countryside and how things find themselves here always brings on feelings of satisfaction for me. I think it has something to do with how things become irrelevant and then in that new non-role make me think new thoughts about them and the world.  Hi-dive boards for pools sit in grassy meadows. A TV lays in a ditch. A landline reverberates across a field from a house. Ferns are unraveling in different stages of growth. Boleros are being played over lunch. 

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a philly spring by Emily Busch

the immediacy of all
who need me
in different ways
and yet sometimes i feel helpless
frozen with trying
to figure out
monetary provisions and
pro-visions
kids are climbing
my back fence
trying to get in the yard
a cat is curled against a rock
by the front of the house
wounded
every block of children
living in poverty in this city
multiplied
by another block
what is it that keeps us able
to not get overwhelmed?
the kids climbing my fence
who live behind me and the bowling alley yard
them with their patio of concrete
sometimes it feels
like too stark a representation
of having and having not
they look down from their bedroom
through the window with the broken plastic blind
like a bird's feathers
violently disturbed
and never set back
they study the yard
the hammock
the dog
the string bean teepee
and want to know everything
the fence leans from the weight of all their bodies
perched and heaving from the curiosity
of little boys
and it's unstoppable forward velocity

 

Years like days and Here We Are. by Emily Busch

It has been years since I wrote a "blog" piece. My old blog, birdiebusch.blogspot.com accumulated some dust and tucked away into the coral reef caverns in the deep dark sea of the internet. You see, I love to write, more than most methinks. In fact, if that old predicament came up, the one in which your house is burning and you need to grab some things, I'd grab a little nightstand with a chicken-wire front that holds the entirety of my journals. 

My guitars, they are dear to me, but still they are possessions. My thoughts however, even with my elephant never forgets skills need to look back into these books to see things. I also want all my nieces and nephews, when they finally get past that certain time of pesky middle youth, to realize I am, was, and always will be a lady of the world. My mind, just like the internet, is a coral reef in a deep dark sea. 

I've become fascinated with what memories stick around. You know that common recall of near death experiences that all involve memories flashing before your eyes? Well, I'm the odd-bird that does that process actively pre-death on a regular basis for kicks and song fodder.

Example: The time I found a well in an abandoned desert mining town in Mexico on a mountain overlooking Real De Catorce. I dropped a rock into it and it fell with a velocity that gathered all the air around it like everything I had ever known was being pulled into the vortex and I was at the edge of the drain of this universe, a peculiar observation deck that had no museum ropes. The swoosh felt collective but the end sound, the driest thud, happened in a place that felt forever deep. I'm not sure what to do with this memory yet, but I can't get it to go away, and all I want to do sometimes is to be back there on that mountain with that rock and the donkeys in the distance making their noises while they eat. Why this memory? I need to get to the bottom of this memory.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I think I'm back with this whole "blog" thing. I still just wanna call it a log. Or perhaps the "b"-log: thoughts of the bird. A common thing I hear in interviews with some of my favorite artists is how they are never resting mentally. Their brain is always processing the world in an overactive dance. I understand this completely and am still trying to find my place here in this as a person of this tribe. Half the time anymore I can't tell what expectations I'm self-projecting and what I am imagining coming from the exterior at large. What does this world want me to be and also, what do I want to be in this world? What if we can't come to an agreement? Can you make agreements with this elusive thing? And does this thing, if it were to speak, would it sound like the rock in the mine in Mexico falling for forever? 

 

 

 

 

 

Behind Every Gold Record is an Average White Band: reminiscing about a gift of yesteryear on my birthday. by Birdie Busch

When I finished my first official record my dear friends and helpers gave me a present for my birthday. It was my record, under glass in the official archival manner, shining with a plaque commemorating it. It looked much like the ones I'd seen in the studio we recorded at, where the house engineer, Shelly Yakus, had some of his gold records he'd done with Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks hanging on the wall. But don't think this was a very slick studio. This studio was a converted auto garage in the swamps of New Jersey behind Somer's Point. It was more like a musty outdated rancher-home coke-den of sorts. Mavis Staples had just recorded a record there the year before, and was playing to very under attended rooms before the Jeff Tweedy collaborations boosted her back into the public eye and people began appreciating again what she never stopped doing. The Dixie Hummingbirds had recorded one of their last albums their with Levon Helm on drums and Garth Hudson on organ. The place was an incubator of passionate people just as much as it was for mold.




And that gold record? I was informed by a belly laughing Devin, who produced my record, that my fancy LP under glass was actually an Average White Band record he spraypainted with metallic paint on the roof of his place.

This week my birthday came around and I sat down to collect some thoughts, I was extra aware this week, mostly because I really honed in and decided that for my birthday I was gonna appreciate, I was gonna try some new things, and I was going to make music, lots of music for people to take in and take along with them in spirit.

I reached out to Devin to check in and say hi, he's en route to Budapest to learn a mobile recording technique and work on a project of international musical collaboration. He mentioned the gold record. "Remember that thing?" Yeah, I did. Perhaps going to Budapest sounds very jet-set, but for Devin I'd say it's more a 1,000 ton wagon led by ants that got him to Turkey. He is one of the hardest working passionate people I know, and at his age, perhaps there are more expected milestones to be had, but in his own way he is carving out his own peculiar life.

Milestones. I think perhaps at some point I lined them up in a pyramid and kicked them all into the river.  I think that there are many ways to live and every one of them has beauty and balance. I hate sometimes that I have a hard time organizing for much more than playing music and ensuring I can continue to do so. Something that still makes my hands clam up is when I have to explain to relatives at a holiday party what I do, knowing I could never quite reveal to them truly how passionate and in love I am with my life, when all they may be seeing is that this 30 something year old women is working behind the counter of a tea shop. And I realize that this can be perhaps just as much self projection as relative inspection and I'm working on it.

Another birthday thing I did was list my current fears:

Fear One: That I will not be able to keep playing music.
Fear Two: That I will not live up to my potential.
Fear Three: That I will dissapoint my parents.

So I guess when one worries as such it is best to get into an old church van with no AC and head to play music for strangers? The somewhat assaulting breeze whipping about makes you feel like you are on the high seas and the sound of the engine is very much akin to a motorboat. All conversations become exaggerated over the noise. You still only end up hearing mostly reactions if you are a bench seat away, like whooping laughter or the sight of vibrating of shoulders. I sit in the back, lean into the window, and just let that soothe me. This is family. This feels the same to me as when I would be in the station wagon and my dad would play Willie Nelson cassettes. But see, I heard those cassettes in a certain way, a way that I couldn't shake.

And here I am. Here WE are, at 2pm on the Merritt Parkway with everyone else asleep but me and the driver, doing accounting in the notes section of my iPhone trying to justify how we can keep getting to these places to make this music. But then we get onto another stage, setup all our equipment (so much equipment!) and do something we feel so mysteriously compelled to do and I just can't imagine cutting this out of my life, I can't convince myself to extract what is perhaps to me my favorite thing. And I have alot of favorite things, like looking for shells on the beach, drinking tea alone, cooking soup. Songs are where I can gather all of them into the fold.

We played shows this week for many people. For a 15 year old girl who sat mesmerized by our feet and I knew the experience was perhaps effecting her whole path much in the way early experiences with music did for me. Other shows we had families out in the sunshine of a late summer afternoon, on blankets looking over their children dancing in front of us with peaceful eyes. Last night a woman who wrote poetry in tandem gave it to me at the end of the night on ripped out wire bound notepad paper and I tucked it into my jean jacket breast pocket. We were introduced with recitations of prose from Siddhartha and closed out shows with disintegrating melodies of songs that never existed before we made them ourselves.

But the record I was gifted about 8 years ago perhaps fortuitously let me know how hilarious and somewhat bastardized life was gonna get sometimes. It was gonna show me that yes, there are milestones, all kinds for all people, and while there is a grain of truth and honor to each one, there is also an average white band record underneath the veneer, metaphorically speaking of course. Or in my case, not. But the intention is real and it is loving. My friends made that for me as their way of saying, "Hey, we already believe in this, we are golden". We are musicians, we're a scrappy bunch. Resourceful.  Bound for strange times. Able to withstand long journeys both physically and spiritually with our ear always perked for the laughter amidst the roar of the wind. I think Mavis, Levon, Shelly, they all knew this. And I guess through my own living so have I and so I go....Love, bird

(the poem gifted to us at Mauchunk Opera House)

























The House of Love: Where does violence fit in our lives? by Birdie Busch

yesterday i was working at the tearoom and beyond the foreground of happy friends and tea revelers i saw a young couple walking briskly down the street through the window yelling in each other's faces in a side-swiping manner akin to two sparring race cars. i followed them with my eyes and watched the man forceably throw her over a line of bushes. i ran out and started yelling at him in expletives that he in no way has the right to hit her, to which the girl thankfully and sheepishly agreed and walked quickly off one way as the man the other. he got into a car, sped off, and with my adrenaline pumping i went back into the calm of the shop.

an hour later i received a phone call on the store's landline. it was the man apologizing to me that it had happened. i was reticent to accept an apology, for it seemed perhaps an attempt to quell any calls to police, but also an attempt to dispel the occurrence through words not action. i tried to let him know that it was not an apology i wanted but for him to consider how the future should hold for him a non-violent possibility and he seemed annoyed he had even called. i was imagining the girl finding herself around the corner, literally and figuratively, and hoping that both of them in some way at some point could find it in themselves to reject this violence from their lives. that may be long off. but when it happened, whenever the first time was for them, the trust between them was changed forever.

violence is like a nuclear bomb dropped on trust and the comparison leads me right into thinking about something that i've wrestled with in my psyche as a human on this earth: that in my core i believe so truly that non-violence is the most holy of paths. it's not even something that i want to argue or debate over tables, Facebook comments, chat rooms, board rooms. i feel in my heart that trust in my life has only been able to develop to its most holy place through unabashed, some might say naive, over assuming our kindredness more than differences peaceful process. this feeling has made me feel quite strange here. i don't know where to place myself and this feeling. when i look at a photo of my grandfather in a leather bomber standing in front of a world war 2 fighter plane i look into the frozen moment's eyes and get lost, wondering what feelings swirled in their minds? am i an ungrateful brat or a child of god? or both?

violence. is it all of the same place? or can we justify fighting to get to a non-violent future? or is violence just always shape-shifting? and is it strange for me to assume what works in the microcosm of my life will work for a world at large? but if violence is involved, trust to me never feels fully realized or gained. this perhaps has come to be one of the most conflicted contemplations and spiritual journeys of my life.

and now getting back to that moment yesterday. i hope that the man who called, albeit perhaps more subconsciously, called because he saw the eyes of the community and he looked back into them. i hope he saw that more than punishment we want to see change. and not only change for her, but change for him. because life is a long dark endless night if you think violence has a place in the house of love.
















avenues of sadness and the alleyways in between. by Birdie Busch

This week was peculiar. A week in which a best friend went to the hospital to discover her immune system was that of a chemo patient with no concrete reasons as to why just clinical conjecture. Each blood test that came back was a cross off of relief. Meningitis-negative. HIV-negative. A week where I found two $100 bills in the street in a way that felt serendipitous, a universe token to give to an amazing artist  waitress friend to help alleviate some stress for missing shifts due to said sickness. A week where I got to open up for one of my favorite bands in a beautiful venue because I persevered to make it happen. So it seemed in keeping when I found the dresser. The 1930's Bakelite handled, inlaid wood beauty. I kicked my old dresser yesterday morning at its brokenness. I've been kind of balancing the drawers on nails inside it and when I open the t-shirt drawer the jewelry drawer falls down into the dresser and the scarab that rests in the top of a pewter box I have falls out. Sometimes I just wait a few months to place the scarab back into its indentation knowing it'll just happen again rather than gluing it.  I made the decision I'd try and get one at a thrift store that afternoon. But instead another lovely token.

Today I went to see Howard the guitar player from the Dixie Hummingbirds with Mr. Huff in a home in Germantown. He is the only original existing member. Huff was with me to revel in the joy of the dresser find, and remarked I'd probably be one of those guys with a pick up truck with stuff hanging out the sides if I could. And as we drove further west on Germantown Avenue he asked if we could visit Howard. Huff, while 89, has not had to succumb to such a place, but he doesn't have eyesight to drive, so he's been sorrow stricken that he can't visit Howard to keep him company. Howard, whose wife passed away in the two years he's had to be there, calls the place an avenue of sadness. It is somewhat crushing to visit a musical legend in such a place, whose mind is still so acute weaving elegant thoughts, with visitors few and far between, while being on the short leash of an oxygen tank. But it is also transformative when you breakthrough the confines, when you pull off the avenues and seek love any way you can. It leaves you with that kind of day that you go home and sew those buttons back on your shirt finally because your head is clear as a monks. Mr. Huff handed him a crumbled selection of bills that amounted to about $18 dollars and Howard took it like it was a golden pirate's coin, their eyes locking and holding back tears that seemed the perfect cocktail of both happiness and disgust for how things can end up.

It was a peculiar week. But one that I felt better to go through, an affirmation, a meditation. I am ever more aware that life is best when lived knowing that there is so much that is unpredictable but also so much that is not. We will build our lives through love and meet the hardships together, and through our intentions the mystery will rise to our occasions and acknowledge us with gifts.


Levon Helm Tribute Opening Words by Birdie Busch


Levon Helm and I had never met, nor had I ever seen him play. But our lives Venn diagrammed in 2005 when I began working on my first recording at a studio in a converted auto garage in the backwater marshlands of south jersey. The project before us had been one of the last Dixie Hummingbird recordings, a gospel group from Philadelphia whose most pop culture claim to fame was singing Loves Me Like A Rock with Paul Simon. But if you went deeper, you’d find that the Dixie Hummingbirds were a serious staple of American music and anyone of the same mind, that is, with a deep sense of peace and place in that gospel tradition, wanted to be a part. Levon played drums on that last recording, so weeks before we set up for our sessions, he had been playing in the same live room and to me, all the musical history that preceded had leaked in. I was giddy to be breathing in that same musical air, putting sounds into the same microphones and sharing a sacred space. To be part of that tradition, more than autographs and handshakes, has always been my motivation.

Sometimes I imagine America as a grand piece of fabric and the musical history as a lovely rich dye and picture dipping the bottom of it into this liquid and seeing it seep up and out, into tributaries and cities, making its wild way.  Levon resided for a good deal of his impressionistic youth down south where this reaction had its first contact.  I do believe he, whether intentionally or by the default of his joyous pursuits, became a prime transmitter of this history but he also was so free in himself so as to play like no one else. He, and the band in general, has made me want to defy mediocrity and put something of myself into the world. The best always make you feel this way.

So even though I never got the chance in person, I am always greeting the spirit of Levon Helm with my music. In the joy of it. In my respect for its journey. In my ever seeking connection to listeners. In my continuing observance of this life around me.

All of us went to the tribute last night to celebrate and meditate on what he had such a huge part of bringing into this world. For, how could we not reflect back our respects like an ocean illuminated by the sun and moon? 

A Philadelphia Poem Trifecta. by Birdie Busch






Bottle Dust

 There’s that saying,
“If a tree falls in the forest...”
but here there are no trees.
So how will we know when
there has been a casualty?

At what secret hour
are all these bottles smashed?
What point does the potential become the kinetic
and cause all this glass to turn into stardust
covering the streets?

Catching in my bike tires
like thorns and booby traps.
A farthest removed cry
from someone
amongst me.  


Huff’s House

I visit Bob
every couple months.
He lives up where the stadium used to be.
They would watch the game from the rooftops until that
became unwanted
and a huge wall was put up to block the view.
But eventually
superstition and the bad karma
of exclusivity
caught up
and the wall was taken down.

Now he just spends his time in the house with the shades drawn.
An oversize aquarium tank with a small single fish
percolates endlessly.

Viv, his wife, watches T.V. in the bedroom
unless there’s a church event,
and then she dresses to the nines
in crinoline and flowers.
She likes to say, “strange things happen everyday”
and I never can quite place the
emotional tone.
Apathetic? Dismissive? No.
Perhaps more hopeful for a miracle.

Their adult son
divides time between here and Corpus Christi.
Right now he is splitting it between the opposite couch
and going across to the corner store
every twenty minutes
the veins in his neck twitching.

He talks to his girlfriend
on an old model cell phone
and winks at me from across the room.
He says he knows about two things real well,
“police and women”
and that he likes the rain "cuz it keeps niggaz inside”
but he himself seems undeterred.

His 90 year old parents shake their heads.
Done with it all but
loving enough to let him have the key.
The screen door slaps behind his son and Bob,
sitting in silence
staring at the linoleum floor without looking away
asks,
“You ever know what it’s like to have a cow that ain’t got no milk?”



Shamira

She would knock on
the door so much
that it became
part of the city’s rhythm
like car beeps or
sirens wailing

And often
it would be
just to see you
to observe you
the desire to laugh

A band of brothers
and a mother
wheelchair bound
living in the
public housing
on the corner

You’d give her presents
paintbrushes and paper
and she’d place her pictures
in her bedroom window
to catch the light

When you moved
she whined and put on
her best sad face
and that was that

Her knowledge of people
being there or not there
but her life
the distance of
the stoop to the sidewalk
and all the joy
she could find
in between








Bird Dog Grand Mini Tour: thoughts from the center of the rambling wagon wheel. by Birdie Busch

                                                   
What do you do when you realize that which makes you happy is both the easiest thing and also the most difficult to sustain? I come from a line of accountants and reality adhesionists. You go with what makes sense. Perhaps this has been one of the grandest struggles for me, the long journey away from this truth. It’s not a universal truth, but it is a truth to many. So maybe it’s just a regional truth, and the region of my brain that holds my path is just due west or south of it.

When the kindergarten teacher told my mother over her desk during a conference that she had never really encountered a child who had such disregard for adults and what she was supposed to do, that was a primer for what was to come, right? Which is this. What is this?

I do know that when I am amongst the others of this tribe, I feel a support, an affirmation that it is ok. Not just ok, but supported and celebrated.  Is it songs? Am I the defender of the importance of songs in the history of the human race? I’m trying to imagine telling someone this when they ask what I do. Does anyone really give a fuck that I have taken on this job that isn’t considered a job? Sometimes it feels like a sad secret, knowing this necessity that everyone can tend to treat as expendable. Other times it feels like I am holding the keys to a glorious kingdom and my time here is just a flash, so I need to act accordingly.


                                      

So I go out onto the stage, and I look as many people as I can in the audience in the eye and sing my heart out, even if my heart sings a little out of key and croaky as the bullfrog pond from a childhood memory of mine. I did love that bullfrog pond so I’ve taken it with me. I am the sole representative of all my memories; they DO depend on me to spread the word.  I love this. And when in love you feel elevated and a tad invincible and no matter which way you turn it’s a battle of foolishness, foolishness to pursue such an elusive thing but foolishness to leave something behind you can feel is the core of your happiness. And happiness has truly been pushed aside way to many times by too many. We are a complex nexus of time and events but happiness? Happiness dwells in its own region.


For the tribe, this region is the center of the wheel on a rambling wagon that makes no promises and guarantees no futures. We are reality abstractionists, sound distortionists, and imaginary constructionists. And we do all we can to get to you, from town to town, compromising endlessly reality adhesionist truths, so that we may transmit a spark of the eternal. It is our grand nod to that which can't be harnessed but felt totally, humanly, and fully. 

love, bird. 





                            



Antonio 1922-2012. by Birdie Busch


People are always leaving. Everyone exits in different ways. When someone has been around for so long and their body lets go slowly, this is what we’ve come to see as the most natural way. These people seem to go as quietly amidst the expectedness as the closing of a flower.

My neighbor Antonio had been going for quite sometime now.  He left us a week ago. He was 89.  He had been in his bed for the last couple months, while his cat Cha-cha walked back and forth on top of him.  I would call him a lot when it got to the point that  he wasn’t able to come down and open the door and he’d say “no one is here right now Em-o-lee” in his thick Portuguese accent. It was like he was my Rapunzel. When I came home from working late or playing a show, I’d park and look up and see his popcorn ceiling sparkles twinkling through the cracks in his curtains and wonder how he was doing in the solitude that is inevitable towards the end.  He said he had been counting the sparkles and noticed that there were only so many blue ones amidst the gold. I squinted to locate those precious few.

His story is long. It involves being shanghaied onto a cruise ship as a peasant child selling fruit on the docks of Cape Verde and ends on 46th street in Southwest Philadelphia taking trolleys back and forth two blocks in each direction to exercise his last freedoms of movement.

I went to his funeral mass and received the xeroxed life story that mentioned workplaces, children and grandchildren. But what about how he kept a brown bag full of percussion instruments fashioned from wooden bedposts by his recliner to clank along to the radio with? Or how about his memories of the women in fields as a child, where he stood under their skirts and watched the sunlight shine through? Obituaries are not my story of choice. It seems like such a cruel succinct way to sum up our rides, why should we take comfort in such a strict form? 

My getting to know Antonio was a gift. It was and is part of my life that as a thirty year old woman I would meet this adventurer in the twilight of his life. I try to not sulk in the knowledge of how I couldn’t have been there with him when he was coasting on his bicycle as a young man. When he asked me to dance on his porch, awkwardly shuffling in the acutest of shifts, he did it with such bravado and thoughtlessness towards time that I fell right into rhythm. We would toast with some port wine tasting of grape juice and share what we could in the brightest of ways. While I’m usually quite modest when it comes to expletives, you know like, “geez louis!” , I’d like to say we  gave a big f*** you to circumstance. See look, even just then I had to star it out. Things are because that’s how they be. Get on with your life in the most celebratory fashion.











new years: customs within customs and the shooting of a star by Birdie Busch


Every moment is ready for resolve and intention. Sometimes we gather to celebrate this formally. But mostly it happens in little corners. And then, there are those times that it happens formally in little corners and if you observe you may be able to catch the fiery attempts like one catches a shooting star on the farthest corner of their blinking eye. This is how I have come to know my life. This is where my peace of mind resides.

We create our own customs within other customs and then evolve within the ones we've created to see to it that we are limitless and seeking vitality. Sometimes a song is involved, some shaking of tail feathers,a donning of a mask, and a prayer to the moon. 

Love and light to you all infinitely...  Birdie Busch 



























Alien in Popland: The Pharoahs got my back. by Birdie Busch


I often feel peculiar more and more in  certain public places. Highway rest stops and summer boardwalks I move about like a ghost. This past memorial weekend, I rode a bike to the boardwalk in Ocean City on a quest to pick up a pair of dollar store sunglasses I admired of my sisters. I chained my bike to a railing and began walking the wooden boards. I stared at the sunburns on the backs of people’s legs. I awkwardly watched teenage girls awkwardly stare down their nose at their own breasts in bikinis. With each passing crack in the boardwalk I tried to squint and see couples cuddling as the famous song had alluded to but all I could decipher was the color beige, a mixture of sunlight and sand.

The boardwalk. It was and is such a rite of passage. I worked so many odd jobs here every summer when I was less of a ghost. Bob’s Lemonade stand with some Eastern European exchange students. The slide at wonderland pier where I was responsible for pushing parents and their children down in musty potato sacks.  McDonalds where I had my own visor and ate the double cheeseburger value meal almost every day. The Beachcomber where I would replace little plastic license plates into the circular display with peoples names on them. I always lamented how sad it would be to have a name they hadn’t deemed popular enough for the placards.

Many of the stores changed names. People are always turning shops over to see what works, to see how they can make all their money in three months and then go elsewhere for the off season. Freeze dried ice cream pellets. Monkey bread balls. Pop culture often dictates what goes on the t-shirts hanging from the front of the stores and I realized that I had no idea what the slogans were referencing anymore. I found myself making up odd scenarios where the slogans came from, which all referenced my own experience completely outside the world of its original intent.

The dollar store had sold out of all the sunglasses I was looking for so I wandered around looking at flip-flops and puka shell hemp necklaces. Even in the cheapest of China factory wares the element of human design is still apparent, but in a distant way, like a picture of a picture of a picture, less sharp and more dissolved, no trace of a craftsman.

I weaved in and out, studying the inventory, letting my brain stretch out to colors and smells. Old war veterans handed out red fabric carnations to passersby. All the radios in each store were playing pop stations, which have such a specific sound. I have a close friend who is older than me that says, “You know, everyone thinks pop music is a specific sound but it really is just whatever is popular at the time. There was a time when pop music was eclectic and wonderful.” Hmmm. I definitely wouldn’t call what I was hearing eclectic and wonderful. I was trying to figure out why but didn’t really want to harp on the negative so I continued moving and just concentrated on other sounds. The ocean. Bits of conversation as others moved passed me. The clinking of arcades. A break in stores brought on a little less commotion. Mini-golf with a giant guerilla was coming up. Out of the loudspeaker at the entrance came this startling but familiar sound. “Uno dos one two tres quatro!” It was the beginning to Wooley Bully by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs and it stopped me dead. Of course I have heard it so many times including in the beginning scene of Splash when Tom Hanks and John Candy are kids on a river cruise and the house band is playing it.  I leaned up against the wall next to the mini-golf and smiled and starting singing it out loud and caught a few stares my way. What was it that made it feel so electrified and alive? I was fixated. Could it be just the fact that all it was was the sounds that they could generate in their limited scope, which was their instrument and their souls and the collaborative energy between them? 

I often feel that it is this union that woos me most and something often feels missing these days because when I do feel that its like an oasis in a desert that I’ve come crawling over the sands to drink, this time, ironically, from a group of guys that dressed up like Egyptian pharaohs to play rock and roll songs about wooly mammoths from over 40 years ago. 

I stood and heard the whole song through. I no longer felt like a ghost. I realized that perhaps its not that I’m outside the circle of life but that I am so inside it that I feel like a stranger amidst the common culture and the pop that  is reflecting it. Bad art imitates bad life. Bad life imitates bad art. Have faith in finding your own personal pop. 

Love, Bird. 

Out of the Cave, Into the World. by Birdie Busch


Hello everyone who reads this. My apologies for taking so long to return here. Seasons are coming and going. The babies of the world are becoming toddlers and so on. Whole huge trees have blossomed and shed to green. I remember seeing old footage of an interviewee asking Paul Simon what took him so long to make another record, I believe it was around the time of Graceland maybe? Anyhow, he said something along the lines of, “Well, it’s a lot to think about. Thinking takes time.”

I am a lion and the spring sun is distracting me. I’m headed to go find a warm rock. But on this rock I will be pondering and very soon I will gather these thoughts.

Yours truly,
Bird. 

Lunar Christmas by Birdie Busch


Spinning vinyl is an act of meditation for me. I am only three months into my monthly residency at Johnny Brenda’s and I feel as though I am finding my center behind the perch of the DJ booth looking out onto people, pool sticks, and passing of time. This last Monday, in addition to the Christmas music I had planned for the evening, it was a lunar eclipse, and a selection of moon songs were gathered in the hodge podge of cardboard boxes I use to clumsily carry my records.

Moon songs come around fairly often over time. It’s a right of passage for someone that writes songs. You could treat it like you are roping a steer, or maybe more like gathering wind. A little of both. We confide in the moon with our loneliness, our desires known and also hidden, and go to it when everyone else is reasoning and we want undoing. But the moon’s undoing is really marked by a grand scheme of planetary order. I’ve been really intrigued lately about this moon club.

Christmas is in my blood. My father, who I’ve mentioned before in earlier posts, is Polish, and the city of Krakow, Poland is known to be the Christmas capitol of the world. I still write letters to Santa, and my mother has archived the evolution of the dialogue that happens between us in a scrapbook she keeps in a writing desk in the living room. We express a lot about the shifting of our lives, wants that have ranged from some large bungling toy to hoping lost family members will find themselves. This too is a meditation for me.

The amount of information we are expected to consume as a normal amount anymore is really getting to me and I’ve become disturbingly fascinated with how our brains and memories are changing in how we process all this information. Spinning records allows me to focus. I’ve found myself more and more on many occasions hearing something either in a public or private place and asking, “What is this?” and the person looking at me and saying, “Oh I don’t know, it’s in my playlists, I got a bunch of stuff on there.” This concerns me. Not only because it taps out on some level to the art that is moving them but also because it creates a disconnect from the creator and the work involved. If I play a record by Los Lobos and you’ve never heard Los Lobos and it turns out you freakin’ love Los Lobos after that, then by all means be aware, seek out Los Lobos, and discover more of what they do. It’s a means to connect the dots. We are just as much constellations as the creatures we’ve woven into the stars, so let the man in the moon look down on us and see our mystical lineage. Let him peer through the round wreath on the high frosted window at the end of the bar, through the lucid lights coloring the pints of beer, and enjoy the songs in his and all of ours honor. Cause really, all this music and those that make it are trying to do is give this existence some honor. It’s startling these days how there is such a lack of care for life. Everyday, in everything I do, I’m trying to counteract this disregard.

The night brought visitations from friends and strangers all confiding in me through songs that sparked memories. Remembrances of childhood, of trips, of old lovers. It is no coincidence that they are called records and not files or downloads. Even the language associated with vinyl connotates romancing and dreaming whereas the digital era has not been able to find such rounded verbiage. Into the a.m.  the bartender excitedly ran out and back in to exclaim that is was happening, that the eclipse was beginning and things were changing so much so that a clear distinction was upon us. I peered out my icy porthole to see the change, a night where both science and spirits were weaving their glorious patterns and laughing at the folks who deem the two enemies.

I saw the bar empty and played things in regard to the emptiness. The two bartenders set the pool balls and cracked a game, satisfied with the nights ending. I put on Elvis singing Peace in the Valley, and thought of how wide the valley is here. I wonder if all those country songs about lowlands were talking about a place like Philly? There are no mountains as far as the eye can see.  Sometimes I don’t even think they had ever imagined such a huge broken valley in those songs.

The fragile existence of all of us alongside each other is overwhelming but it has made me feel no other option except to be a healer. To honor and to be honored. To acknowledge the gathering of all these stars, both sky and earthbound for glory.