Jukebooks: Guitar Boy by M.J. Auch

Guitar Boy by MJ AuchTravis sits in the old wood cabin built by his great-great-great grandfather Eli, holding the guitar built with Eli’s own hands. His heart is broken. Travis’s mother is hospitalized after a serious car accident, and his father has nearly lost his own mind with grief. Minutes before, Travis’s father had been ready to smash the old guitar against the wall. Now, cradled in Travis’s hands, the guitar vibrates with the spirit of years long past.

It was Travis’s mother who could really play. She knew all the old gospel songs, tunes that Travis knows down in his bones. Sitting in the lonely cabin, Travis begins to play and sing.

Sometimes I feel Like a motherless child.
Sometimes I feel Like a motherless child.
Sometimes I feel Like a motherless child.
A long way from home.
A long way from home.

Motherless Child is a powerful Negro spiritual that once expressed the grief of slaves separated from their homeland, sold apart from their family, and shorn of human respect. The slow, beautiful tune voices a plaintive cry that comes from our most helpless selves, granting emotional release in its simple repetition.

The song has been recorded many, many times, by artists ranging from Billie Holliday to Prince. My favorite version is sung by Odetta (Holmes,) who performed it on April 8, 1960, at Carnegie Hall.

http://youtu.be/6iZj6P-bkcY

-Diane Colson, currently listening to The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell, read by Gretchen Mol

Happy Birthday, Sherlock Holmes!

Photo by dynamosquito. CC BY-SA 2.0.
Photo by dynamosquito. CC BY-SA 2.0.

Since the publication of the first Sherlock Holmes story in 1887, Holmes has captured the imagination of readers– so much so that when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle initially killed him off, readers clamored for more, eventually convincing him to resurrect the character. In modern day, Holmes’ popularity has remained high, with many books including either the detective himself or references to him, not to mention a recent movie series that reimagined Sherlock in a more steampunk inspired setting and two currently-airing television shows bringing Holmes and Watson into modern day.

Photo by minifig. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Photo by minifig. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Though it is never mentioned in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, many Sherlock scholars and fans have placed his birthday on January 6th. In celebration of this date and the fact that the early Sherlock stories were declared to be in the Public Domain in the U.S. just recently, this post collects some books that build on the Sherlock mythology directly and others that are not directly related, but will nevertheless captivate fans of Sherlock’s adventures. Continue reading Happy Birthday, Sherlock Holmes!

Get Ready for Downton Abbey Season 4 With These Books

DowntonAbbeySince debuting in the UK three seasons ago, Downton Abbey has become a worldwide phenomenon. It combines great characters, a compelling plot and a fascinating historical setting to make for an addictive viewing experience that has captivated audiences of a wide range of nationalities and age groups. Now that Season 4 is about to start airing in the U.S., I know I am excited to see what is in store for all of my favorite residents of the Abbey. If you are like me and Downton Abbey has sparked your interest in the history of this time period more generally, get in the mood for Season 4 (or tide yourself over between episodes) with one of these books. Continue reading Get Ready for Downton Abbey Season 4 With These Books

Jukebooks: Just One Year by Gayle Forman

Just One Year CoverThree years earlier, Willem spent one day with a girl he called Lulu, because she had a “passing resemblance to Louise Brooks.” Now he realizes he should never have let her go. Driven by yearning, Willem takes off from his native Amsterdam to find Lulu.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t know her real first name or her last name. Willem does recall that Lulu talked about spending the winter holidays in a resort that looked like a Mayan temple. Following a desperate hunch, he finds himself spending New Year’s Day in Cancun, Mexico.

Weary from the wandering and fruitless search, Willem takes a solitary swim in the sea. From the shore, he can hear someone strumming Stairway to Heaven. It’s a lovely scene: The moon on the water, the music wafting in from the shore, and the sweet warmth of the tropical air. But Willem is alone in a world that seems far too large to search out his one special person.

Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin is one of the most beautiful rock songs of the 1970s. Composed by guitarist Jimmy Page and vocalist Robert Plant , the song begins with a slow, lovely melody and evolves into a rock symphony that soars with Page’s guitar riffs (played 0n a double-neck Gibson) and Plant’s soulful, screaming vocals. The video recording below is from Zeppelin’s concert film, The Song Remains the Same.  This segment was recorded in Madison Square Garden in 1973.

 
http://youtu.be/9Q7Vr3yQYWQ

Diane Colson, currently reading Sex and Violence: a novel by Carrie Mesrobian.