Friday, October 06, 2006

Buffy & Lennie

Hey, I just bought a Buffy Sainte-Marie CD with God is Alive, Magic Is Afoot on it. Probably the first time I've heard it in 30-plus years. Very cool. Did you know that it is actually a Leonard Cohen poem that Buffy set to music? Good ol' Lenny. I've loved him ever since my high school days, when songs like Avalanche and Dress Rehearsal Rag convinced me that somebody, somewhere, was even more miserable than me. And somehow, out of all that gloom and doom, came transcendent moments like the above-mentioned tune, and Suzanne, and Winter Lady, and Halleluja. One of my favorite Leonard Cohen moments is the opening scene of McCabe and Mrs. Miller, an unspeakably sad and lovely film that begins with The Stranger Song as Warren Beatty, playing an itinerant gambler on horseback, approaches a frontier town through a mist of cold rain. One of the best fusions of music and images ever. Rent the DVD if you don't believe me. Anyway, here's to Lenny & Buffy, two wonderfully idiosyncratic talents who combined to create something weird and... well, magical.


Respect4u said...

I was curious... so I snagged this off the net. Enjoy!

[words by Leonard Cohen; sung by Buffy Sainte-Marie on _Illuminations_ (1969)
(transcribed by Mena Schmid from CD)

God is alive, magic is afoot
God is alive, magic is afoot
God is alive, magic is afoot
God is afoot, magic is alive
Alive is afoot, magic never died
God never sickened
Many poor men lied
Many sick men lied
Magic never weakened
Magic never hid
Magic always ruled
God is afoot, God never died
God was ruler
Though his funeral lengthened
Though his mourners thickened
Magic never fled
Though his shrouds were hoisted
The naked God did live
Though his words were twisted
The naked magic thrived
Though his death was published
Round and round the world
The heart did not believe

Many hurt men wondered
Many struck men bled
Magic never faltered
Magic always lead
Many stones were rolled
But God would not lie down
Many wild men lied
Many fat men listened
Though they offered stones
Magic still was fed
Though they locked their coffers
God was always served
Magic is afoot, God is alive
Alive is afoot

Alive is in command
Many weak men hungered
Many strong men thrived
Though they boast of solitude
God was at their side
Nor the dreamer in his cell
Nor the captain on the hill
Magic is alive
Though his death was pardoned
Round and round the world
The heart would not believe

Though laws were carved in marble
They could not shelter men
Though altars built in parliaments
They could not order men
Police arrested magic and magic went with them
Mmmmm.... for magic loves the hungry
But magic would not tarry
It moves from arm to arm
It would not stay with them
Magic is afoot
It cannot come to harm
It rests in an empty palm
It spawns in an empty mind
But magic is no instrument
Magic is the end
Many men drove magic
But magic stayed behind
Many strong men lied
They only passed through magic
And out the other side
Many weak men lied
They came to God in secret
And though they left Him nourished
They would not tell who healed
Though mountains danced before them
They said that God was dead
Though his shrouds were hoisted
The naked God did live
This I mean to whisper to my mind
This I mean to laugh within my mind
This I mean my mind to serve
Til' service is but magic
Moving through the world
And mind itself is magic
Coursing through the flesh
And flesh itself is magic
Dancing on a clock
And time itself
The magic length of God

God is alive, magic is afoot . . .

Mariah Fleming said...

Hey Sharon and Tom!
I see you are both under the spell of Buffy's version of 'God Is Alive, Magic is Afoot' as well. And what a wonderful spell to be under, isn't it? Beautiful to see this posted.

When you have time, check out the 'archives' and you'll find that those words were posted by our own inimitable Ron Wortham in Sept or Oct of last year. The 'ol archives can be quite interesting so by all means browse at your leisure!

Let us know if you find anything that 'speaks' to you! If you go back far enough you will find the audio link to 'God Is Alive' that Ron posted. He also posted a link to a rare song from those days that I had not heard since the early 1970's called 'Parallelograms' by Linda Perhacs.

I'd be curious if either of you remember that one from the old KCAC/KDKB days!

Tom Wright said...

Yes, I do remember "Parallelograms" although I had no idea who did it. haven't heard it since about 1971, I'd guess. One of my many planned projects is to put together a disc or two of "KCAC/KDKB Klassics" with lots of stuff that dropped off the radio decades ago. William Truckaway's "Bluegreens" (Toad's theme song), Fraser & DeBolt's version of "Don't Let Me Down," Michael Dinner's "Tom Thumb the Dreamer," etc. I also remember a nice version of "Violets of Dawn" that Toad or somebody else used to play a lot; it is NOT the Eric Anderson version or the Blues Project version. Anybody know who that was, or how I could get a copy???

Tom said...

To give credit for discovery, Ray Thomson was the first that I recall, to catch and share "Parrallelograms", "Chimicaum Rain" and others by Linda Perhacs (SP). I recall him coming in from KRUX one day saying "Have you HEARD this?"

The ONLY near parallel to Parrallelagrams in current times or even since - would have to be Laurie Anderson, featured by Andy Olson. In fact she has caught on with the Big Time networks.

Tom, there is so much that I would suggest to be added to your list; Maffit & Davies, Hoyt Axton, Fred Niel, Laura Nyro and obscure songs by a jillion performers that would have otherwise gone unheard. But now it has been THIRTY YEARS of accumulated performances. If we had to set about listening to them all, it would take years and years.

It would be one of the longest music listening sessions in history... absolutely non-stop. Barrels and barrels of popcorn, many gallons of cold drinks and other refeshments. It would require the organization of a commune out in the desert somewhere with many tons of food and smokes, occasional breaks from the 24/7 music for sleeping, showers and making love (just to stay alive, you understand).

Listening to that much music would mean that everyone would have to cooperate with each other with probably only one rule; no piece of music can be interrupted until it is played all the way through.

What we need is a Starbrite Ranch and a complete disregard for time.


Marty said...

Great hearing about all those memorable songs. I have the Old Fraser & DeBolt LP and as I read this I put Lamb's album CROSS BETWEEN on the turntable. Remember that one? "Take me ridin' on your paper airplane..."
Remember turntables?

Marty said...

By the way, if you're cleaning old LPs here a few hints

Also, Linda Perhacs is alive and recording again after a 30 year absence
More here

Mariah Fleming said...

Regarding old, obscure music's an idea. What if we start a thread of favorite obscure songs from the KCAC days to help Tom build a library of those songs? If we keep a list going we can jog each other's memories. Ron, tech wizard you, want to get a "Rebirth of Real Music List" (or something!) happening?

I would add Hedge and Donna; anyone remember them? Thank goodness I have a turntable to play it on...circa 1976!! Wendy Waldman (ahh! what a songwriter!) was one of the station's oft played artists; and the very old but then hip Melissa Manchester (not the lounge singer) And does anyone know who Libby Titus was? One of my faves. And David Whiffen. Fred Neil..."Sugaree" Ok, anybody??? Names of songs, albums?? Gettin the ol' brain cells fired up feels good! said...

GOT A LIBBY TITUS DEMO up in the attic with another 20 feet of LP vinyl. In fact I may have TWO different ones, unscratched and maybe played twice.

Again, you are near The Gold Mariah. The secret to why we are all coming together may be to DIGITIZE and PRESERVE the music. Libby Titus did NOT hit and there were others in that genre who did not hit - Roderick Falconer, many fine talents and hidden stars that SOMEWHERE in the future, someone NEEDS to hear.

This is stuff the Library of Congress will NOT archive.

I got an email the other day from Johnny D saying "Andy is your music guy, I am your record guy". Perhaps we should all contribute along those lines - DIGITIZE the music, UPLOAD it to Andy and then SHIP the records to Johnny D? I would gladly give him my entire collection to keep it together and have it join a bigger collection. Safety in numbers!

I am sitting here just 10 feet from the ORIGINAL Dr. John "Gris-Gris" voodo album ca 1968 that I haven't "gotten around" to digitizing for over a year. It is sandwiched between some LP original mix Moody Blues LP"s. Don't ask me why I have gotten so distracted. I haven't been to Mass either. Then again, I am not Catholic.


Mariah Fleming said...

I may be NEAR the gold dear Ronco, but YOU are sitting on it!!! You're a perpetually amazing guy!!
And I am still, I hope, your 'lady of perpetual encouragement' (o:

Tom Wright said...

Good Lord, you mean there's someone else out there who remembers David Wiffen??!! I've been plyaing (and loving) his stuff for 30+ years, but when I went to a record collector's convention a few years ago trying to find his ultra-rare first album, I was told flat out that it didn't exist, because if it did, it would be in their database. I insisted that it DID exist, and they made an announcmeent over the PA system that somebody would pay big bucks for David Wiffen, but I had zero response. Flash forward a few years: both of his early-70s albums are now out on CD (imports only, but with great sound) AND he has a new album out, his first since 1973, which is... not great, but it's so good to hear his voice again. As for Fred Neil: if he isn't the voice of God, nobody is. He makes James Earl Jones sound like a girl scout. Fred died a few years ago, but THAT VOICE is immortal. Hey, and what about Paul Seibel? Or Judee Sill? Lots of unheralded, forgotten talent out there...

Mariah Fleming said...

OMG Tom! We need to have some serious record talk! I believe the David Wiffen I have is the first one, I can't recall the title but if you said it I would. I love that voice, that delivery, and those spare and elegant. And Fred Neil is one of my heros from high school days.When I sang 'folk music' professionally I did a lot of his songs...and Dan Hicks, John Martyn, Chris Smither...ok it's done, I'm going to leave this room and put on the new guitar strings I recently bought...see if I can resurrect some of these old tunes.

We need to catalog all our lps into genre, age, shape ec...there's so much...Paul Seibel who wrote such compact, heart searing songs - the one Bonnie Raitt covered on an early lp - gads I've got to go find these lps on my sagging shelves. I'd love to know where to get the originals that are now on cd (Wiffen) any clues?

One of my favorite vocalists was the early Jennifer Warnes of "Shot thru the Heart" Are you into Pentangle? Whew. Love them!! Got to see them live in's one of the biggest thrills of my life outside of seeing Joni mitchell in Montreal at the Place du Nationes in the rain no less. But then there's Richard Thompson, Jon Martyn, Nick've got me rolling now, Tom! John Prine, Hoyt Axton, Sweetwater....
Whenever I listen to Laura Nyro's "Billy's Blues" I get chills remembering how often Bill Compton played that song.

Hootenanny anybody? (o:

Tom Wright said...

What can I say? Great minds think alike, right? I am heavily into Nick Drake, Richard Thompson, and all the other British folk artists you mentioned. Check online (Ebay,, Amazon, etc.) for David Wiffen, Fred Neil, and Paul Siebel CD's; all of their recorded works are available, though not always easy to find. The first David Wiffen album is self-titled; the second one is "Coast to Coast Fever" (from 1973) and it is one of the greatest "road" albums of all time, beating even Jackson Browne's "Running on Empty" in my humble opinion and pre-dating it by several years. His new album (actually, 1999 or so) is called "South of Somewhere" and it contains re-recordings of some of his older songs as well as some good new songs.

I'm kind of swamped right now: in the last few weeks I've attended two funerals, gone to the Alwun House gathering and worked on digitizing the tapes, met with Andy Olson, gone on vacation to Utah, had emergency dental work done after a big chunk of a tooth fell out, had a tire blow out in heavy traffic and had to be towed, sparred online with Ron over politics (no more, I promise), and fallen behind at work and am trying desperately to catch up. Coming up later this week: more dental work, and a wedding to attend (not my own, thank gawd). Oh, and I've got one of those annoying sniffly colds. So... hold those thoughts, I'm going incommudicado for awhile. But I'll be in touch again soon and we'll talk more then.

Anonymous said...

Hi folks, I'm an italian David Wiffen's collector. The 1st Lp is "Live at the Bunkhouse", not "Same"... I own a copy of it...