Erik Satie Watusies
His Way Into Sound
A scattered orphan
in a sea
of identical twins….
…So Jeff Alessandrelli invites us into the world of Erik Satie, 19th and 20th Century French avant-garde composer. In poems and imagined lyrics to sheet music, Alessandrelli fractures the idea of Satie–a man as eccentric and intriguing in his life as his music was and remains–into strange yet comforting poems as fine and engaging as “air visible in a room;” this is work that will delight as does the music that inspired them and which haunts us still. As Mathias Svalina said for the copy text, ” “This is a stunning & challenging book about what it means to love stunning & challenging music.”
Man is as much made to dream as I am to have a wooden leg.
—On Satie’s composition Vexations
It should be played by someone
who has never learned an instrument
beyond one learned
while impatiently tapping
his or her fingers on the counter,
to a marriage proposal.
Played with supreme concentration,
just like the man in antiquity
attempting to draw a straight line
absolutely rigidly straight
that suddenly fell out of his chair,
thus creating an eternal symbol
for the question mark.
It should be played the same way
an old man in a bright corner of an airport bar
sprays a hateful expression at the bartender
when he realizes his walking stick’s been stolen.
Each chord a factory worker sneaking
a cigarette in the bathroom,
smoke blending in with the sweat,
each repetition how we can’t help
but smile watching the kitten
lap it up, but hate the fact
that we’ve spilled
perfectly good milk.
It should be played
as if playing it
in its entirety
would take 18+ hours,
as, indeed, it would.
but not just.