Here is a nice collection of Coltrane Poem’s to go along with the music. The poetry reflects the various periods of John’s career. His free period, his revolutionary feelings, his open and expressive melange, and artful masterpieces.
I will leave it to the pro’s to express my feelings about Coltrane, and why he is in my all time top 5 musicians.
Michael Stillman’s “In Memoriam John Coltrane” (The Jazz Poetry Anthology, 1991):
Listen to the coal
rolling, rolling through the cold
steady rain, wheel on
wheel, listen to the
turning of the wheels this night
black as coal dust, steel
on steel, listen to
these cars carry coal, listen
to the coal train roll.
Check out this great post for tons more info. It’s where I found these great poems, and the history behind it so thanks to Vagabondage.
Edward Kamau Brathwaite “Glass” (Black + Blues 1976)
i hear them screaming
as the world revolves round
marcus malcolm mississippi memphis
but there aint no vein of revolution
only the blues
and coltrane’s gospel pain
“Here Where Coltrane Is” Michael S. Harpers (History Is Your Own Heartbet, 1971)
I play “Alabama”
on a warped record player
skipping the scratches
on your faces over the fibrous
conical hairs of plastic
under the wooden floors.
Dreaming on a train from New York
to Philly, you hand out six
notes which become an anthem
to our memories of you:
oak, birch, maple,
apple, cocoa, rubber.
For this reason Martin is dead;
for this reason Malcolm is dead;
for this reason Coltrane is dead;
in the eyes of my first son are the browns
of these men and their music.
Jayne Cortez “How Long Has Trane Been Gone?”
Rip those dead white people off
your walls Black People
black people whose walls
should be a hall
A Black Hall Of Fame
so our children will know
will know & be proud
Proud to say I’m from Parker City–Coltrane City–Omette City
Pharoah City living on Holiday street next to
James Brown park in the State of Malcolm
Giant Steps, was the first Coltrane record I was ever exposed to. My high school art teacher popped it into the CD player during open studio time early in the year. Thusly, changing my year for the better, and subsequently my life, because I never lost the fever for Coltrane since. Coincidentally the CD he played after this was Tom Waits, “Nighthawks At The Diner.” That might explain a few things about me.
Sonia Sancz’s “a/coltrane/poem” from We a BaddDDD People (1970), The poem begins with a relatively quiet voice, invoking the lullaby “are u sleepen/ are u sleepen/ brotha john/ brotha john,” which Sanchez notes in the margin is “to be sung softly.” But in “the quiet/ aftermath of assassinations” and “the massacre/ of all blk/ musicians,” Sanchez attempts to create a phonetic equivalent to the explosive sound of Coltrane’s sax: “scrEEEccCHHHHH screeeeEEECHHHHHHH/ sCReeeEEECHHHHHH SCREEEECCCCHHHH/ SCREEEEEEEECCCVIHHHHHHHHHH/ a alovesupremealovesupremealovesupreme for our blk/ people.” This is followed by an expression of political fury:
BRING IN THE WITE/MOTHA/fuckas
ALL THE MILLIONAIRES/BANKERS/ol
MAIN /LINE/ASS/RISTOCRATS (ALL
THEM SO-CALLED BEAUTIFUL
WHO HAVE KILLED
WILL CONTINUE TO
KILL US WITH
THEY CAPITALISM/18% OWNERSHIP
OF THE WORLD.
Possibly my all time favorite album here. I have played this vinyl so many times that it is nearly worn out. The joy of getting lost in this song is one of my favorite moments in life, and any rendition of this song by Coltrane is pure magic. I wonder if Rodgers and Hammerstein imagined their song getting this kind of treatment. First class.