I have co-written my second song.
After being unsuccessful at producing lyrics to fit a melody I had, I stumbled upon a solution. I had been reading this extraordinary early American poet, and was quite taken by one poem in particular. I happened to try playing my melody with this poem, and whala: a co-write!
Vachel Lindsay was a turn of the century American performance poet: His poems were meant to be performed and several were put to music. He was very popular and several books have been written about him. Apparently, his performances were a “curious blend of athletic exuberance, [patriotism] and evangelism.”
Some music historians have even designated his “General William Booth Enters into Heaven” as the first rap song.
One of his more popular poems – “Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight” — was not only put to music but also inspired a sculptured statue.*
Here’s my adapted take on his poem “The Spider and the Ghost of the Fly.”
The Spider and the Ghost of the Fly
(words by Vachel Lindsay; music by Thomas Oliver)
Once I love a spider
When I was born a fly
A velvet-footed spider
With a gown of rainbow-dye
She ate my wings and gloated
She bound me with a hair
She drove me to her parlor
Above her winding stair
To educate young spiders
She took me all apart
My ghost came back to haunt her
I watched her eat my heart.
The statue of Abraham Lincoln was designed by Fred Torrey of Fairmont, West Virginia, in the late 1930’s. His sculpture is based on Vachel Lindsay’s poem “Lincoln Walks at Midnight, and depicts Lincoln pacing at night in a robe, under the strain of a nation torn apart by war. It sits in front of the state capitol in Charleston.