Friday, September 21, 2012


Melody Gardot - "Music is my love, men are just my lovers"
"I watch William Blake, who spotted angels every day in treetops and met God on the staircase of his little house and found light in grimy alleys--"* Line from poem "Blake" by Polish poet Adam Zagajewski. 

I've been "spotting angels" too, musical ones like Melody Gardot. At age 18 Gardot was cycling to ? when a Jeep Cherokee ran a red light, knocked her down, broke her pelvis, back, left her with such severe injuries she was bedridden for a year.  Former life & history were wiped from her brain; the memories of who she was locked away on the other side of midnight.  She remembers the hospital, and she remembers the pain, on a scale of 1 to 10, she says it was a 40.  They were trying to cut her clothes off and she hears herself screaming "no" when they get to her brand new "Agent Provocateur Bra".  She had to learn to walk again, brush her teeth...and relearn words--once she'd been a straight A student, but even language was lost to her.

When her doctor found out she had played piano before the accident he suggested music therapy to help redefine the neural pathways, to create a bridge where the connections had been broken.  Since she couldn't sit in a chair to play the piano she taught herself guitar while lying on her back.  The music brought her back to herself.

She says:  "Music is the thing that saved me.  It's the thing that gave me purpose.  In my mind it made me walk.  It gave me the dignity of being a human being that could do something, and we all need purpose.  If nothing defines your character or gives you the ability to wake up in the morning, I think we can easily lose the passion to exist, and then it becomes hard to wake up, hard to go to sleep. So in that sense, music has become my priority.  Music is my love. Probably the greatest love of all for me.  Men are just my lovers."

Gardot is still in constant pain, but says when she is performing she doesn't feel it; she has transformed her pain into art.  She has no home, few possessions and travels with a couple of suitcases and three books:  a Voltaire, Zen Mind and a book of homeopathic remedies (she sticks to a macrobiotic diet).  From walking with a cane like Frankenstein, she copes with vertigo by taking Tango lessons. 

She had me at "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", but after I heard her sing "La Vie en Rose", I was undone.  If you want to hear her sing and tell her story in her own words, there is a four part video on You Tube:  Melody Gardot, Accidental Musician.  If you're lucky enough to get to Paris (where the French adore her) you can see her at L'Olympia, Nov. 5,6,7., or see her in Berlin, London, Warsaw, Monaco, San Francisco.
"I'm never really afraid of bad news at this point in my life"

The composer Ravel said, "Music is dream crystallized into sound".  It feels like one has entered another dimension when watching Gardot perform, she's broken through to a level where there is no separation.  Something about Melody Gardot made me want to go back and watch the Wim Wenders 1987 film "Wings of Desire.  While he was formulating the film in his mind, Wenders was reading some of Rilke's poetry and thinking about the angels among us.  He doesn't say so, but I think he must have read Rilke's "The Man Watching", the fourth stanza:

Ed Buryn's William Blake Tarot
"When we win it's with small things,
and the triumph itself makes us small
What is extraordinary and eternal 
does not want to be bent by us.  
I mean the Angels who appeared 
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
when the wrestlers sinews 
grew long like metal strings,
he felt them under his fingers,
like chords of deep music."

 The Irish poet, John O' Donohue wrote "Meister Eckhart says the soul has two faces. One faces towards the world, and the other towards the divine, the eternal, where it receives 'the kiss of God'...there is a place in the soul that neither time, nor flesh, nor no creative thing can touch."

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