Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Mysticism of Trees

He looked up among
the knotted branches and green leaves,
and into the mysterious heart
of the old tree.

I continue reading Frank MacEowen's book, The Mist-Filled Path: Celtic Wisdom for Exiles, Wanderers, and Seekers. I've shared two excerpts from this insightful book previously at The Wild Reed (see here and here) and share today a third, one that resonates deeply with me because of its focus on trees.

Like MacEowen, I was drawn to and felt connected to trees as a child. I have happy memories, for instance, of hours spent in the branches of the jacaranda tree that grew in the backyard of my childhood home in Gunnedah, Australia.

More recently, there is the Prayer Tree (left) with which I've developed a very special bond.

I also resonate with the writings of MacEowen as I'm discovering that they are reminding me of – and connecting me to – the spirituality of my Celtic ancestors, in particular those on my father's side of the family who hailed from the county of Staffordshire in England.

With all this in heart and mind, here is that part of The Mist-Filled Path in which MacEowen shares his thoughts and experience of “the mysticism of trees.”


During my time of walking [in nature] as a child, I was always filled with a blend of awe and the jitters. A sense of expectancy pulsed with each heartbeat, with each moving shadow in the shaded wood, as if at any moment a door might open up beside me. This amazing energy had an uncanny presence. When I look back on those times, with the eyes I have now, I see that the holiness of my childhood in nature was inseparably linked to the trees. I loved them, I love them now, and through them ancient unseen doors open.

We Celts are lovers of trees. In fact, the religion of our primal ancestors is one truly rooted in the mysticism of trees. From old Celtic tales that speak of First Man being an alder tree, and First Woman being a rowan tree, to the ancient Roman accounts of the druids in the groves of old Gaul, trees play a central role in the ancient Celtic way of seeing.

. . . On one day in particular when I was out in the trees, something happened. I had a sudden and shocking remembrance of the trees as guardians, allies, and as conduits for activating memory. Images flashed in my mind. The images were hauntingly familiar, achingly so. Like in Carl Jung's formative childhood mystical experience of merging with a stone he was sitting on, in a moment the trees suddenly told me that they were my ancient home, that I had known them intimately before, and that one day I would live among them again.

I was deeply stirred, and in the midst of this experience I realized that the spirit of the mist did not retreat from my presence that day. It moved in and around me, encompassing me like a cool blanket. Slowly I began to feel at one with the forest, at one with the mist, and at one with myself in a way I never had before. I was suddenly self-aware, profoundly conscious that life is a path that we walk from the time of birth to the time of death. It was an old memory returned.

I wept with an emotion I can only describe as a feeling of being accepted by the sacred world. Woven within this moment of reawakening was a familiarity with something extremely old that stood just on the periphery of my awareness. Though it felt like a person, I saw no one. I imagined the face of an old man. I did not have words to put to this flow of experience, but as a good Scots brother of mine says in one of his poems, “I felt watched and watching.”

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Holy Encounters Where Two Worlds Meet
The Prayer Tree
The Prayer Tree . . . Aflame!
Photo of the Day – July 25, 2019
Photo of the Day – February 24, 2019
Photo of the Day – November 29, 2017
Mystics Full of Grace
Trees on Summit Avenue
Thomas Moore on the Circling of Nature as the Best Way to Find Our Substance
“Radical Returnings” – Mayday 2016
Balancing the Fire
“I Caught a Glimpse of a God”
At Hallowtide, Pagan Thoughts on Restoring Our World and Our Souls
Magician Among the Spirits

Opening image: Jason and the Talking Oak (1910) by Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966).

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Carl Anderson: “Let the Music Play!”

Today is the 75th anniversary of the birth of the late, great American singer and actor Carl Anderson (1945-2004), whom I've been honoring throughout February – the month of both his birth and death.

This honoring concludes today with beauty and wisdom from Carl himself in the form of a quote and a song, connected thematically by music. Enjoy!

I am still thinking that music is the means by which God speaks on the level of our humanity. We should all sit down and listen to some real music! Let it play! Let the music play! Let the music play – and loudly! And may peace reassert itself in our world. Love, Light, Power and Music!

– Carl Anderson
April 27, 1999

How do you keep the music playing?
How do you make it last?
How do you keep the song from fading too fast?

How do you lose yourself to someone
And never lose your way?
How do you not run out of new things to say?

And since we know we're always changing
How can it be the same?
And tell me how year after year
You're sure your heart won't fall apart
Each time you hear his name?

I know the way I feel for you is now or never
The more I love, the more that I'm afraid
That in your eyes I may not see forever, forever

If we can be the best of lovers
Yet be the best of friends
If we can try with every day to make it better as it grows
With any luck than I suppose
The music never ends

NOTE: Carl's version of “How Do You Keep the Music Playing” is from his 1997 album Why We Are Here! Live, released under the Abu Khalil label, Carl's own production company named after his son. The album was recorded at the Agape International Spiritual Center, of which Carl was a member. It was produced by John Potoker, Freddie Ravel, and Carl.

Freddie Ravel: Musical Director, Piano, Synthesizers and Vocals
Michael Paulo: Alto and Tenor Sax, Flute
Alphonso Johnson: Bass and Vocals
Bernie Dresel: Drums
Fred Schleuders: Guitar
Leslie Smith: Percussion and Vocals
Anjani: Keyboards, Percussion and Vocals


For previous installments in The Wild Reed's February 2020 Celebration of Carl Anderson, see:
Carl Anderson: On and On
Carl Anderson and The Black Pearl
Carl Anderson in The Color Purple

The Wild Reed's February 2019 Celebration of Carl Anderson:
Remembering and Celebrating Carl Anderson
Carl Anderson: “Pure Quality”
Carl Anderson's Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar: “The Gold Standard”
Carl Anderson's Judas: “A Two-Dimensional Popular Villain Turned Into a Complex Human Being”
Carl Anderson: “Artist and Vocalist Extraordinaire”
Playbill Remembers Carl
Remembering the Life of Carl Anderson: “There Was So Much Love”

For more of Carl at The Wild Reed, see:
Carl Anderson: “Like a Song in the Night”
Carl Anderson: “One of the Most Enjoyable Male Vocalists of His Era”
With Love Inside
Carl Anderson
Acts of Love . . . Carl's and Mine
Introducing . . . the Carl Anderson Appreciation Group
Forbidden Lover
Revisiting a Groovy Jesus (and a Dysfunctional Theology)

Related Off-site Links:
A Profile of Carl Anderson – Part I: A Broadway Legend with Lynchburg Roots – Holly Phelps (, May 12, 2015)
A Profile of Carl Anderson – Part II: The Legend Lives On – Holly Phelps (,June 10, 2015)
Carl Anderson – Jazz Legend: The Official Website
Carl Anderson Memorial Page
Carl Anderson at – Ron Wynn (
Carl Anderson Biography – Chris Rizik (Soul Tracks).

Opening and closing images: Screen-caps of a rare video of Carl performing in 2002 at his friend Willy's place in New Orleans. Carl was performing for his fellow Jesus Christ Superstar cast members on what would be his last tour with the musical that first established him in 1973 as a vocalist and actor of international renown.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

A Lenten Resolution

Instead of giving up something for Lent, I’m planning to make a heartfelt offering. In times like these, it makes more sense to seek out daily causes for praise than daily reminders of lack. So here is my resolution: to find as many ordinary miracles as a waterlogged winter can put forth, as many resurrections as an eerily early springtime will allow. Tiny beautiful things are bursting forth in the darkest places, in the smallest nooks and deepest cracks of the hidden world, and I am going to keep looking every single day until I find one.

– Margaret Renkl
Excerpted from "One Tiny Beautiful Thing"
The New York Times
February 23, 2020

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Let Today Be the Day
Blessing the Dust
Ash Wednesday Reflections
The Ashes of Our Martyrs
"The Turn": A Lenten Meditation by Lionel Basney
Lent: A Summons to Live Anew
Lent: A Season Set Apart
"Here I Am!" – The Lenten Response
Lent: A Time to Fast and Feast
Now Is the Acceptable Time
Lent with Henri
Waking Dagobert
"Radical Returnings" – Mayday 2016 (Part 1)
"Radical Returnings" – Mayday 2016 (Part 2)
Move Us, Loving God

Image: Michael J. Bayly.

Monday, February 24, 2020

“It's Time to Take a Stand”: Marianne Williamson Endorses Bernie Sanders for President

At a rally yesterday in Austin, Texas, author, activist, and former presidential candidate Marianne Williamson endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders for president.

Anyone familiar with this blog will know that I resonate with the politically progressive vision shared by both Bernie and Marianne. Indeed, until she suspended her campaign last month, Marianne was my preferred candidate. Since then, I've wholeheartedly supported Bernie, as I did in 2016.

According to Reuters correspondent Ginger Gibson, only a handful of former candidates have made endorsements in the 2020 race. “Former Vice President Joe Biden has picked up the backing of two former candidates – U.S. Representatives Seth Moulton and Tim Ryan,” writes Gibson, while “Julián Castro, the former federal housing chief, endorsed Senator Elizabeth Warren.”

Following is Marianne Williamson's speech at yesterday's rally with and for Bernie Sanders in Texas, an event that drew over 12,000 people to Vic Matthias Shores in Austin to show their support for the Democratic front-runner in the 2020 U.S. presidential race. Marianne was introduced to the cheering crowd by columnist and political activist Jim Hightower.

Related Off-site Links:
Marianne Williamson Endorses Bernie Sanders During Surprise Appearance at Texas Rally – Christina Zhao (Newsweek, February 23, 2020).
Marianne Williamson Endorses Sanders: “It’s Time for Us to Take a Stand with Bernie” – Emily Larsen (Washington Examiner, February 23, 2020).
A Confident Bernie Sanders Barnstorms Texas With Burst of Momentum – Patrick Svitek (The Texas Tribune, February 23, 2020).

For more coverage at The Wild Reed of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, see:
Quote of the Day – February 23, 2020
Bernie Sanders and the Corporate Media
Thoughts on the “Sanders Surge”
The Case for Bernie Sanders
Thoughts on the Eve of the Iowa Caucuses
Quote of the Day – February 9, 2020
A Thank You Letter to Marianne Williamson
“A Beautiful Message, So Full of Greatness”
Progressive Perspectives on Joe Biden's Presidential Run
Beto, Biden and Buttigieg: “Empty Suits and Poll-Tested Brands”
Pete Buttigieg, White Privilege, and Identity Politics
Quote of the Day – October 19, 2019
Quote(s) of the Day – February 26, 2019

For The Wild Reed's coverage of Marianne Williamson's presidential campaign, see the following chronologically-ordered posts:
Talkin’ ’Bout An Evolution: Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Bid
Why Marianne Williamson Is a Serious and Credible Presidential Candidate
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – April 24, 2019
Marianne Williamson: Reaching for Higher Ground
“A Lefty With Soul”: Why Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson Deserves Some Serious Attention
Sometimes You Just Have to Take Matters Into Your Own Hands
Marianne Williamson Plans on Sharing Some “Big Truths” on Tonight's Debate Stage
Friar André Maria: Quote of the Day – June 28, 2019
Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson: “We’re Living at a Critical Moment in Our Democracy”
Caitlin Johnstone: “Status Quo Politicians Are Infinitely ‘Weirder’ Than Marianne Williamson”
Marianne Williamson On What It Will Take to Defeat Donald Trump
“This Woman Is Going to Win the Nomination”: Matt Taibbi on Marianne Williamson in Iowa
Something to Think About (and Embody!)
The Relevance and Vitality of Marianne Williamson’s 2020 Presidential Campaign
Quote of the Day – November 4, 2019
Quote of the Day – November 11, 2019
Marianne Williamson: “Anything That Will Help People Thrive, I’m Interested In”
Marianne Williamson and the Power of Politicized Love
Quote of the Day – December 14, 2019
Marianne Williamson: “I Am Not Suspending My Candidacy”
Marianne Williamson on New Day with Christi Paul – 01/04/20
“A Beautiful Message, So Full of Greatness”
A Thank You Letter to Marianne Williamson
“I Learned So Much From the Experience”: Marianne Williamson on Her Presidential Bid

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Carl Anderson in The Color Purple

Today is the 16th anniversary of the passing of singer and actor Carl Anderson.

Throughout February – the month of both his birth (on February 27, 1945) and death – Carl is being celebrated here at The Wild Reed.

This celebration continues today with the highlighting of Carl's role as Samuel in Steven Speilberg's 1985 film The Color Purple, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1982 novel of the same name by Alice Walker.

The Color Purple was Carl's third and final feature film. It followed 1973's Jesus Christ Superstar and 1977's The Black Pearl. The Color Purple was released the same year as Carl's album, Protocol (1985), which contains his minor hit, "Can't Stop This Feeling," and one year before his self-titled album which contains his greatest commercial success, “Friends and Lovers,” a duet with Gloria Loring.

Gentle, wise, and spiritually-mature

In Walker's novel, Samuel is a Christian minister who, along with his wife, Corrine, adopts the book's main character Celie’s biological children, Olivia and Adam.

Samuel is a gentle, wise, and spiritually-mature black intellectual committed to “the uplift of black people everywhere.” In a major development in the story, he takes Corrine, Nettie (Celie's younger sister), and Olivia and Adam to Africa for missionary work.

Here he later tells Nettie a story that makes her realize that the man she had believed was her biological father is actually her stepfather. After Corrine’s death, Samuel marries Nettie and the family travels back to Georgia to reunite with Celie.

Although he is listed as a main character in many study guides to the novel (see for instance here), Samuel in Speilberg's film has no lines of dialogue. Still, when it comes to embodying Samuel's travails, Carl manages to convey a compelling depth of emotion through his facial expressions and body language, ensuring that his scenes, though relatively brief, are definitely memorable.

The following about Samuel is excerpted from the website.

Alone of all the novel’s major male characters, Samuel is from the start an intelligent and sensible man who has a positive attitude towards women. He is a minister, although Walker does not tell us to which denomination of Christianity Samuel belongs. He is a compassionate man, which motivates his desire to be a missionary as well as his adoption of Olivia and Adam at the request of his acquaintance Alphonso. Generally wise and mature, Samuel is an educated man who is committed to improving the lives of all black people. When he becomes aware of his errors, such as his refusal to ‘interfere’ in Albert and Celie’s home life, he apologizes and seeks forgiveness.

As Nettie spends time with Samuel, she realizes that not all black men are aggressive, lustful and bent on dominating women, which had been her experience with Alphonso and “Mr____.”

. . . Along with Corinne, Samuel represents the well-meaning but ineffectual efforts of Westerners to impose their values on other people. Their expectations are shown to be naive and often unrealistic. [That being said] Samuel is far more accepting of tribal customs than previous missionaries such as those who made African women wear ‘Mother Hubbards,’ but ends up in despair at the way in which the Olinka tie Christianity in with the wider Western culture of economic prosperity and colonial oppression.

In Letter 80 Samuel finally breaks down, unable to hold together the tension of the good things his faith has motivated him to do and the reality of failure in so many areas. It is this soul-sharing that breaks Nettie’s boundary of friendship and admiration so that love can flourish between them. [Although] Samuel and Corinne . . . lack the dynamism of characters who figure in the primary narrative story line, Samuel [nevertheless] provides a useful contrast in attitude to the novel’s other black males.

Following are excerpts from Nettie's letters to Celie in Alice Walker's The Color Purple. These excerpts make reference to the character of Samuel, played by Carl Anderson in Steven Speilberg's 1985 film adaptation of Walker's novel.

Dear Celie,

. . . The lady you met in town is name Corrine. The little girl's name is Olivia. The husband's name is Samuel. The little boy's name is Adam. They are sanctified religious and very good to me. They live in a nice house next to the church where Samuel preaches, and we spend a lot of time on church business. I say "we" because they always try to include me in everything they do, so I don't feel so left out and alone.

. . . Corrine and Samuel and the children are part of a group of people called Missionaries, of the American and African Missionary Society. They have ministered to the Indians out west and are ministering to the poor of this town. All in preparation for the work they feel they were born for, missionary work in Africa.

[In a later letter, Nettie writes:] Samuel was born in the North, in New York, and grew up and was educated there. He met Corrine through his aunt who had been a missionary, along with Corrine's aunt, in the Belgian Congo. Samuel frequently accompanied his aunt Althea to Atlanta, where Corrine's aunt Theodosia lived.

Dear Celie,

. . . The reason I am in Africa is because one of the missionaries that was supposed to go with Corrine and Samuel to help with the children and with setting up a school suddenly married a man who was afraid to let her go, and refused to come to Africa with her. So there they were, all set to go, with a ticket suddenly available and no missionary to give it to. At the same time, I wasn't able to find a job anywhere around town. But I never dreamed of going to Africa! I never even thought about it as a real place, though Samuel and Corrine and even the children talked about it all the time.

. . . Corrine and Samuel have a wonderful marriage. Their only sorrow in the beginning was that they could not have children. And then, they say, "God" sent them Olivia and Adam.

I wanted to say, "God" has sent you their sister and aunt, but I didn't. Yes, their children, sent by "God" are your children, Celie. And they are being brought up in love, Christian charity and awareness of God. And now "God" has sent me to watch over them, to protest and cherish them. It is a miracle, isn't it? And no doubt impossible for you to believe.

But on the other hand, if you can believe I am in Africa, and I am, you can believe anything.

Dear Celie,

At first there was the faintest sound of movement in the forest. A kind of low humming. Then there was chopping and the sound of dragging. Then a scent, some days, of smoke. But now, after two months, during which I or the children or Corrine has been sick, all we hear is chopping and scraping and dragging. And every day we smell smoke.

Today one of the boys in my afternoon class burst out, as he entered, The road approaches! The road approaches! He had been hunting in the forest with his father and seen it.

Dear Celie,

. . . Well, the morning after the road was "finished" as far as the Olinka were concerned (after all, it had reached their village), what should we discover but that the roadbuilders were back at work. They have instructions to continue the road for another thirty miles! And to continue it on its present course right through the village of Olinka. By the time we were out of bed, the road was already being dug through Catherine's newly planted yam field. Of course the Olinka were up in arms. But the roadbuilders were literally up in arms. They had guns, Celie, with orders to shoot!

It was pitiful, Celie. The people felt so betrayed! They stood by helplessly – they really don't know how to fight, and rarely think of it since the old days of tribal wars – as their crops and their homes were destroyed. Yes. The roadbuilders didn't deviate an inch from the plan the headman was following. Every hut that lay in the proposed roadpath was leveled

And, Celie, our church, our school, my hut, all went down in a matter of hours.

Dearest Celie,

By now I expected to be home. Looking into your face and saying Celie, is it really you? I try to picture what the years have brought you in the way of weight and wrinkles – or how you fix your hair. From a skinny, hard little something I've become quite plump. And some of my hair is gray!

But Samuel tells me he loves me plump and graying.

Does this surprise you?

We were married last Fall in England where we tried to get relief for the Olinka from the churches and the Missionary Society.

. . . It did not seem hard for Samuel to talk about Corrine while we were in England. It wasn't hard for me to listen.

It all seems so improbable, he said. Here I am, an aging man whose dreams of helping people have been just that, dreams. How Corrine and I as children would have laughed at ourselves. TWENTY YEARS A FOOL OF THE WEST, OR MOUTH AND ROOFLEAF DISEASE: A TREATISE ON FUTILITY IN THE TROPICS, Etc. Etc. We failed so utterly, he said. We became as comical as Althea and Theodosia. I think her awareness of this fueled Corrine's sickness. She was far more intuitive than I. Her gifts for understanding people much greater. She used to say the Olinka resented us, but I wouldn't see it. But they do, you know.

No, I said, it isn't resentment, exactly. It really is indifference. Sometimes I feel our position is like that of flies on an elephant's hide.

I remember once, before Corrine and I were married, Samuel continued, Aunt Theodosia had one pf her at-homes. She had them every Thursday. She'd invited a lot of "serious young people" as she called them, and one of them was a young Harvard scholar named Edward. DuBoyce* was his last name, I think. Anyhow, Aunt Theodosia was going on about her African adventures, leading up to the time King Leopold of Belgium presented her with a medal. Well, Edward, or perhaps his name was Bill, was a very impatient sort. You saw it in his eyes, you could see it in the way he moved his body. He was never still. As Aunt Theodosia got closer to the part about her surprise and joy over receiving this medal – which validated her service as an exemplary missionary in the King's colony – DuBoyce's foot began to pat the floor rapidly and uncontrollably. Corrine and I looked at each other in alarm. Clearly this man had heard this tale before and was not prepared to endure it a second time.

Madame, he said, when Aunt Theodosia finished her story and flashed her famous medal around the room, do you realize King Leopold cut the hands off workers who, in the opinion of his plantation overseers, did not fulfill their rubber quota? Rather than cherish that medal, Madame, you should regard it as a symbol of your unwitting complicity with this despot who worked to death and brutalized and eventually exterminated thousands and thousands of African peoples.

Well, said Samuel, silence struck the gathering like a blight. Poor Aunt Theodosia! There's something in all of us that wants a medal for what we have done. That wants to be appreciated. And Africans certainly don't deal in medals. They hardly seem to care whether missionaries exist.

Don't be bitter, I said.

How can I not? he said.

The Africans never asked us to come, you know. There's no use blaming them if we feel unwelcome.

It's worse than unwelcome, said Samuel. The Africans don't even see us. They don't recognize us as the brothers and sisters they sold.

Oh, Samuel, I said. Don't.

But you know, he had started to cry. Oh, Nettie, he said. That's the heart of it, don't you see. We love them. We try every way we can to show that love. But they reject us. They never even listen to how we've suffered. And if they listen they say stupid things. Why don't you speak our language? they ask. Why can't you remember the old ways? Why aren't you happy in America, if everyone there drives motorcars?

Celie, it seemed as good a time as any to put my arms around him. Which I did. And words long buried in my heart crept to my lips. I stroked his dear head and face and I called him darling and dear. And I'm afraid, dear, dear Celie, that concern and passion soon ran away with us.

I hope when you receive this news of your sister's forward behavior you will not be shocked or inclined to judge me harshly. Especially when I tell you what a total joy it was. I was transported by ecstasy in Samuel's arms.

You may have guess that I loved him all along; but I did not know it. Oh, I loved him as a brother and respected him as a friend, but Celie, I love him bodily, as a man! I love his walk, his size, his shape, his smell,the kinkiness of his hair. I love the very texture of his palms. The pink of his inner lip. I love his big nose. I love his brows. I love his feet. And I love his dear eyes in which the vulnerability and beauty of his soul can be plainly read.

I think it's a pity that none of the beauty and passion of Nettie and Samuel's relationship ended up being depicted in Speilberg's adaptation of The Color Purple. Indeed, even with Samuel's inclusion in the film's final scene of Celie and Nettie's reunion, there is actually nothing that indicates that he is now Nettie's husband. Still, I'm glad that he (and thus Carl) is part of this powerful scene.

Dear Celie,

God is different to us now, after all these years in Africa. More spirit than ever before, and more internal. Most people think he has to look like something or someone – a roofleaf or Christ – but we don't. And not being tied to what God looks like, frees us.

When we return to America we must have long talks about this, Celie. And perhaps Samuel and I will found a new church in our community that has no idols in it whatsoever, in which each person's spirit is encouraged to seek God directly, his belief that this is possible strengthened by us as people who also believe.


* The following analysis of the man named "DuBoyce" in The Color Purple is from commentary of Letters 80-81.

The mention of "DuBoyce" in this letter is important. Nettie is actually discussing the great black American sociologist, philosopher, and civil rights leader, W. E. B. Du Bois, who was born in 1868 and died in 1963 in Ghana, West Africa. As a noted scholar, he tried to create an appreciation of black Americans, and he was instrumental in founding the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He and Booker T. Washington, the founder of Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, had a heated debate over the method by which blacks should advance. Washington stressed a practical economic freedom that would in time lead to a political and cultural freedom. Washington wanted blacks to get jobs as postal workers, carpenters, and repairmen. On the other hand, Du Bois wanted blacks to aspire to become professionals. His Harvard education made him fiercely defend the position that knowledge was the most important thing a man could acquire.

Walker presents Du Bois accurately in The Color Purple because he certainly would have been appalled at Aunt Theodosia's ignorance. He was a very austere, serious, and self-righteous man.

NEXT: Carl Anderson: “Let the Music Play!”

For previous installments in The Wild Reed's February 2020 Celebration of Carl Anderson, see:
Carl Anderson: On and On
Carl Anderson and The Black Pearl

The Wild Reed's February 2019 Celebration of Carl Anderson:
Remembering and Celebrating Carl Anderson
Carl Anderson: “Pure Quality”
Carl Anderson's Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar: “The Gold Standard”
Carl Anderson's Judas: “A Two-Dimensional Popular Villain Turned Into a Complex Human Being”
Carl Anderson: “Artist and Vocalist Extraordinaire”
Playbill Remembers Carl
Remembering the Life of Carl Anderson: “There Was So Much Love”

For more of Carl at The Wild Reed, see:
Carl Anderson: “Like a Song in the Night”
Carl Anderson: “One of the Most Enjoyable Male Vocalists of His Era”
With Love Inside
Carl Anderson
Acts of Love . . . Carl's and Mine
Introducing . . . the Carl Anderson Appreciation Group
Forbidden Lover
Revisiting a Groovy Jesus (and a Dysfunctional Theology)

Related Off-site Links:
A Profile of Carl Anderson – Part I: A Broadway Legend with Lynchburg Roots – Holly Phelps (, May 12, 2015)
A Profile of Carl Anderson – Part II: The Legend Lives On – Holly Phelps (,June 10, 2015)
Carl Anderson – Jazz Legend: The Official Website
Carl Anderson Memorial Page
Carl Anderson at – Ron Wynn (
Carl Anderson Biography – Chris Rizik (Soul Tracks)

Quote of the Day

Let’s be clear: the other candidates were crushed, and Nevada was yet more evidence that there is no longer much serious opposition to Sanders. Michael Bloomberg fizzled completely in his big debut, and Democrats would be out of their minds to enrage every Sanders supporter by nominating a Republican billionaire. Joe Biden has lost badly in all of the first three contests, and it’s very clear that he can’t run an effective campaign. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign has nearly gone broke and in desperation she has resorted to relying on the Super PACs that she previously shunned. Pete Buttigieg can’t win voters of color or young people (and has accurately been described as sounding like “a neural network trained on West Wing episodes”). . . . [I]t’s over. Bernie is dominating the fundraising, dominating the polls, and winning every primary. I am not sure Jacobin is right that “it’s Bernie’s party now” – for one thing, virtually the entire Congressional Democratic party is still opposed to Bernie. But it’s certainly Bernie’s nomination. There is simply no other credible candidate.

Democrats shouldn’t worry, though: Bernie has a strong organization and a lot of money, and can mobilize millions of people to support him in November. He’s exactly the kind of candidate you should want your party to have. And for all the fear of his “radicalism,” he’s really a moderate: his signature policies are a national health insurance program, a living wage, free public higher education, and a serious green energy investment plan. It’s shocking that there is such opposition to such sensible plans. On what planet are these things so politically toxic that Democrats are afraid to run on them? Voters like these ideas, and so long as Democrats unify behind Bernie rather than continuing to try to tear him down, they will have a very good shot at defeating [an extremist] and unhinged president like Donald Trump. The polling looks good for Bernie in November, so now we just need to get this primary over with and focus on the real fight. The other candidates had their shot: they lost. They need to accept it.

. . . All in all, Nevada was an inspiring moment for American democracy, proof that ordinary working people of all races and incomes and genders can come together around a robust progressive agenda. Democrats need not worry: this is a good thing. It’s a night to be celebrated. The primary is not completely over, but hopefully it is now clear to every sensible observer that Bernie is cruising toward the nomination and needs to be supported rather than torn down.

– Nathan Robinson
Excerpted from "After Bernie Sanders' Landslide Nevada Win,
It's Time for Democrats to Unite Behind Him

The Guardian
February 23, 2020

Related Off-site Links:
Bernie Sanders Is the Winner of the 2020 Nevada Democratic Caucuses – Tara Golshan, Daniel Marans, and Carla Herreria (The Huffington Post, February 22, 2020).
“That's Called Electability”: Diverse Coalition Propels Bernie Sanders to Big Win in Nevada – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, February 22, 2020).
Bernie Sanders' Nevada Win Is a Breakout Moment. The Others Are Toast – Richard Wolffe (The Guardian, February 22, 2020).
Bernie Sanders Is the Front-runner Because of How We Raised Our Kids – Jake Novak (CNBC News, February 23, 2020).
Bernie Sanders Becomes the First Candidate, Democrat or Republican, to Win the Popular Vote in All Three Early Voting States – Benjamin Fearnow (Newsweek, February 23, 2020).
MSNBC in “Full-Blown Freak-out” Mode as Bernie Sanders Cements Status as Democratic Front-runner – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, February 23, 2020).
Multiple Studies Show Medicare for All Would Be Cheaper Than Public Option Pushed by Moderates – Igor Derysh (Salon, February 22, 2020).
Bernie Sanders Is No Donald Trump – David Roth (The New Republic, February 21, 2020).
Face Facts, Bernie Sanders Is Electable – Kirsten Powers (USA Today, February 20, 2020).
“Bernie or Bust” Voters Have a Point – Lili Loofbourow (Slate, February 12, 2020).
Sanders Crushes Trump by 18 Points Among Independent Voters in New National General Election Poll – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, February 11, 2020).
Bernie Sanders Leads Donald Trump in Polls, Even When You Remind People He’s a Socialist – Matthew Yglesias (Vox, January 31, 2020).

UPDATE: Finally, Can We All Agree? Everything We Were Told About Bernie Sanders Was Wrong – Mehdi Hasan (The Intercept, February 24, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Bernie Sanders and the Corporate Media
Thoughts on the “Sanders Surge”
The Case for Bernie Sanders
Quote of the Day – September 7, 2017
Quote of the Day – January 21, 2017
Quote of the Day – November 9, 2016
Progressive Perspectives on the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump
Carrying It On
Hope, History, and Bernie Sanders

For more coverage at The Wild Reed of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, see:
Thoughts on the Eve of the Iowa Caucuses
Quote of the Day – February 9, 2020
A Thank You Letter to Marianne Williamson
“A Beautiful Message, So Full of Greatness”
Progressive Perspectives on Joe Biden's Presidential Run
Beto, Biden and Buttigieg: “Empty Suits and Poll-Tested Brands”
Pete Buttigieg, White Privilege, and Identity Politics
Quote of the Day – October 19, 2019
Quote(s) of the Day – February 26, 2019

Image: Photographer unknown.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Happy Birthday, Buffy!

Singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie turns 79 today.

Happy Birthday, Buffy!

As regulars readers will know, I’ve long admired Buffy Sainte-Marie and enjoyed her music. Indeed, I find her to be a very inspiring figure. (I even chose her song “It's My Way” as my theme song when I turned 50 in 2015!)

Left: With Buffy after her August 26, 2016 performance at The Dakota in Minneapolis.

I particularly appreciate and am inspired by Buffy's passion and purposefulness – and by the way she blends her art and social activism. I’ve seen her four times in concert, and had the privilege of meeting and talking with her on three of these occasions. She’s creative, articulate, warm, and funny – a very human human being.

Buffy's most recent album is the award-winning Medicine Songs (2017), about which Buffy says the following.

[Medicine Songs] is a collection of front line songs about unity and resistance – some brand new and some classics – and I want to put them to work. These are songs I've been writing for over fifty years, and what troubles people today are still the same damn issues from 30-40-50 years ago: war, oppression, inequity, violence, rankism of all kinds, the pecking order, bullying, racketeering and systemic greed. Some of these songs come from the other side of that: positivity, common sense, romance, equity and enthusiasm for life.

[. . .] I really want this collection of songs to be like medicine, to be of some help or encouragement, to maybe do some good. Songs can motivate you and advance your own ideas, encourage and support collaborations and be part of making change globally and at home. They do that for me and I hope this album can be positive and provide thoughts and remedies that rock your world and inspire new ideas of your own.

For The Wild Reed's special post featuring highlights from a number of reviews of Medicine Songs, along with an insightful interview with Buffy, click here.

Above: Buffy and guitarist Anthony King performing at the Big Top Chautauqua, Bayfield, WI on Saturday, August 27, 2016. (Photo: Michael J. Bayly)

In celebrating Buffy today at The Wild Reed I share an excerpt from Pitchfork contributor Lindsay Zoladz's recent article which revisits Illuminations, Buffy’s “cosmic, groundbreaking 1969 album, an ecstatic invocation of pain, pleasure, and divinity.”

In 1977, on an episode of Sesame Street, Buffy Sainte-Marie became the first person to breastfeed on national broadcast television (“Lots of mothers feed their babies this way,” she explained to a very curious Big Bird.) She was the first person to record a song by a then-unknown songwriter named Joni Mitchell (“The Circle Game,” on Sainte-Marie’s 1967 album Fire & Fleet & Candlelight, released almost a year before Mitchell’s own debut). When she decided she’d rather record her 1992 album Coincidence and Likely Stories at home in serene Hawaii than travel to her producer’s studio in chaotic London, Sainte-Marie became the first person ever to make an album by sending files across what was then still being earnestly called “the World Wide Web.”

Being one of the mainstream’s most visible indigenous entertainers in the 1960s and beyond, Buffy Sainte-Marie was the first Native woman to do quite a few things, among them win a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. She is presumably the only person to have written songs that have been covered by the unholy trinity of Elvis, Morrissey, and Courtney Love. And in 1969, when she unleashed her astounding, trailblazing sixth LP Illuminations, she became the first musician not only to release an album with vocals processed through a Buchla 100 synthesizer (the very same unit that the electronic music legend Morton Subotnik had used to compose his landmark 1967 album Silver Apples of the Moon), but the first person ever to make an album recorded using quadraphonic technology, an early precursor to surround-sound.

Here is a brief pause, to let your brain try to catch up with Buffy Sainte-Marie.

And yet, Sainte-Marie has always been suspicious of “firsts” – something about the word itself connotes a narrow-sighted narrative of conquest. She still dismisses hierarchies and what she derisively calls “pecking orders” as rigidly Euro-centric, reeking of colonial absurdity and woefully lacking in imagination. Over and over, she has learned that being ahead of one’s time can be a liability when one does not look the way a vanguard is “supposed to,” which is usually like a white man. “I was real early with electronics, and I just got used to this typical music-biz resistance,” she recalls in Andrea Warner’s 2018 book Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Authorized Biography. “Most of these boys—whether musicians or record company guys – did not want to seem old-fashioned or out of the loop. They didn’t want somebody else – a girl like me – to be ahead of them.”

But she was. Illuminations is a potent artifact from those early days when the synthesizer conjured audible awe and limitless possibility. (Even Giorgio Moroder’s first Moog-driven hit, “Son of My Father,” was not released until 1972.) Illuminations would have been a tough sell in 1969 regardless, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that Sainte-Marie learned another factor in its commercial failure: Because of her activism with the recently formed American Indian Movement (AIM) and her outspoken Vietnam-era pacifism, the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations had both led campaigns to blacklist her music from American radio stations and record stores. “Buffy thought that the decline of her record sales was just part of legitimate changes in American public taste,” her biographer Blair Stonechild wrote in 2012’s Buffy Sainte-Marie: It’s My Way. But years after the release of Illuminations, when an American radio DJ was interviewing Sainte-Marie, he shocked her by apologizing for abiding by a government mandate to stop spinning her tunes. She recalled, “He had a letter on White House stationery commending him for suppressing this music, which deserved to be suppressed.”

As the years went by, Illuminations developed something of a cult following; in 1998, the experimental music magazine The Wire put it on a list of “100 Records That Set the World on Fire When Nobody Was Listening.” (“If Dylan going electric in 1965 would have turned folk purists into baying hyenas,” they wrote, “Buffy Sainte-Marie going electronic would have turned them into kill-hungry wolves.”) But, like Sainte-Marie herself, the bewitching, utterly transporting Illuminations has still not gotten a fraction of its due. It is a record overripe for reevaluation – for reasons not limited to but certainly including pissing off the ghost of Richard Nixon.

To read article Lindsay Zoladz's article on Buffy and her groundbreaking album Illuminations in its entirety, click here.


Following is a track from Illuminations, “Adam.”

Writes Lindsay Zoladz:

For an ostensibly forward-marching record, there’s quite a bit of ancient Biblical imagery on Illuminations: Song titles include “Adam,” “Mary,” and “Suffer the Little Children.” (The Smiths would, of course, write their own track bearing a similar title 15 years later, and Morrissey also covered a song from Illuminations on his most recent album, 2019’s California Son.) But this is one of those records that collapses the distance between seeming opposites. The mesmerizing aurora borealis of “The Vampire” and the shooting stars that streak across the coda of psych-rocker “Better to Find Out For Yourself” both depict the cosmos as something enduring and eternal, rather than just a lazy space-age motif. Where were the Magi looking for the Star of Bethlehem, if not on the astral plane? Again, Sainte-Marie is attuned to the interconnectedness of all things: Though they toggle from the Old Testament to New Weird America, the stellar sounds of Illuminations suggest that all these songs take place beneath the same sky.


For The Wild Reed's special series of posts leading-up to the November 10, 2017 release of Medicine Songs, see:
For Acclaimed Songwriter, Activist and Humanitarian Buffy Sainte-Marie, the World is Always Ripening
Buffy Sainte-Marie: “I'm Creative Anywhere”
Buffy Sainte-Marie Headlines SummerStage Festival in NYC's Central Park
Buffy Sainte-Marie, “One of the Best Performers Out Touring Today”
The Music of Buffy Sainte-Marie: “Uprooting the Sources of Disenfranchisement”
Buffy Sainte-Marie: “Things Do Change and Things Do Get Better”
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Medicine Songs

For The Wild Reed's special series of posts leading-up to the May 12, 2015 release of Buffy's award-winning album, Power in the Blood, see:
Buffy Sainte-Marie and That “Human-Being Magic”
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Lesson from the Cutting Edge: “Go Where You Must to Grow”
Buffy Sainte-Marie: “Sometimes You Have to Be Content to Plant Good Seeds and Be Patient”
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Power in the Blood

For more of Buffy Sainte-Marie at The Wild Reed, see:
A Music Legend Visits the North Country: Buffy Sainte-Marie in Minnesota and Wisconsin – August 2016
Two Exceptional Singers Take a Chance on the “Spirit of the Wind”
Photo of the Day – January 21, 2017
Buffy Sainte-Marie Wins 2015 Polaris Music Prize
Congratulations, Buffy
Happy Birthday, Buffy! (2016)
Happy Birthday, Buffy! (2018)
Happy Birthday, Buffy! (2019)
Actually, There's No Question About It
For Buffy Sainte-Marie, a Well-Deserved Honor
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Singing It and Praying It; Living It and Saying It
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Still Singing with Spirit, Joy, and Passion
Something Special for Indigenous Peoples Day
Buffy Sainte-Marie: “The Big Ones Get Away”

Related Off-site Links:
Buffy the Truth Sayer: An Interview with Buffy Sainte-Marie – Mandy Nolan (The Echo, February 13, 2020).
Buffy Sainte-Marie Named As the Recipient of the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award – Ian Courtney (Encore, February 14, 2020).
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Authorized Biography Serves As a "Map Of Hope" – Scott Simon and Ian Stewart (NPR News, September 29, 2018).
Buffy Sainte-Marie Tells Her Life Story, Her Way – Sue Carter (The Star, September 29, 2018)
Buffy Sainte-Marie, Jess Moskaluke, and The Dead South Lead Saskatchewan Artists Nominated for Junos – Spencer Leigh (The Independent, January 9, 2018).
Buffy Sainte-Marie: "I Constantly Ask Myself, Where Are the Great Protest Songs of Today? Are People Deaf and Blind?"Regina Leader-Post, (February 6, 2018).
Music as Medicine: Buffy Sainte-Marie Talks Politics, Sex Scandals and Her Brand New Album – Rosanna Deerchild (CBC Radio's Unreserved, November 19, 2017)
Buffy Sainte-Marie Takes a Stand with Medicine SongsET Canada (November 30, 2017).
Buffy Sainte-Marie Makes Music for a New Generation of Activists – Tom Power (CBC Radio, November 17, 2017).
The Unbreakable Buffy Sainte-Marie: A Candid Conversation with the Resilient Songwriter and Activist – Whitney Phaneuf (Acoustic Guitar, January 18, 2017).
What Does Buffy Sainte-Marie Believe? – CBC Radio (December 30, 2016).

Opening image: The Canadian Press/Chris Young.