Tag: John Lennon

In praise of beautiful prose.

None better than Alistair Cooke.

In 1968 I went out to live in Sydney, Australia.

By chance a work colleague in my workplace in Sydney introduced me to an organization called Rostrum. They still exist today and as their ‘About’ page on their website explains:

The History of Rostrum

Rostrum Australia is an association of public speaking clubs, founded on 21 July 1930. The original Rostrum club (“The Rostrum”) was founded in Manchester, England, on 21 July 1923 and its first meeting was held under a yew tree at Greendale Farm near Manchester. The first meeting in Australia was held under an Angophora tree in 1930.

This makes Rostrum the longest-running public speaking organisation in the world.

General Information

Rostrum clubs aim to help their members improve their speaking and meeting skills. They do this primarily through regular club meetings and less frequent competitions. The main national competition for members is the Sidney Wicks Speaking Competition, held about every 6 years. State and territory competitions are held throughout the year.

It was a marvelous connection for me for later on in life I was required to give many public speeches.

Anyway, back to those days in Sydney. I still recall how one meeting was devoted to listening to and understanding one of the most eloquent and masterful speakers ever: Alistair Cooke. Listening to Alistair Cooke’s Letter from America on BBC radio was a passion for me until the day he died.

Alistair Cooke
Alistair Cooke

Here’s how Wikipedia describes this wonderful man.

Alistair Cooke, KBE (20 November 1908 – 30 March 2004) was a British journalist, television personality and broadcaster.[1] Outside his journalistic output, which included Letter from America and Alistair Cooke’s America, he was well known in the United States as the host of PBS Masterpiece Theatre from 1971 to 1992. After holding the job for 22 years, and having worked in television for 42 years, Cooke retired in 1992, although he continued to present Letter from America until shortly before his death. He was the father of author and folk singer John Byrne Cooke.

It was a great pleasure to discover that the BBC still holds archives of many of the broadcasts of Letter from America but, in addition, some of Alistair Cooke’s broadcasts are on YouTube.

Please settle down for 15 minutes and listen to one of best writers and speakers to have graced this world.

Broadcast on Fri 12 Dec 1980, BBC Radio

The shooting of John Lennon on the 8th December 1980 sparks a debate over the need for national gun control law in America.

Some issues never go out of date!

Harvest Moon 2014

Sorry, couldn’t resist this.

The following photograph was taken around 9pm (PDT) on the evening of the 8th September; i.e. Monday evening.

The image has been tweaked to display the picture more clearly but, nonetheless, shows the most beautiful Harvest Moon.  The camera was pointing to the East; I was standing on the deck at the back of our house.

P1150050

Anything to do with dogs?

You bet! There’s this ….

dogmoon

oooo

and this:

Uploaded on Nov 9, 2010
During Bob and Jan Shaw’s Annual fall training session outside of Newberry, MI in the beautiful Upper Peninsula, I had the opportunity to record over 100 huskies howling at a full moon.

We all shine on…like the moon and the stars and the sun…we all shine on…come on and on and on…John Lennon.

Feelings across the universe

If you can’t feel it, you can’t write it!

This saying was offered in a creative writing class that Jean and I attended when we were living in Payson, Arizona.  It came to me spontaneously as I started today’s post.  Because feeling what is going on around us is the only way to write it, to share it, to bring it to the attention of all.

These are tough times for so many that love the world around us and having the odd weep is a perfectly rational, and healthy, thing to happen.

So as you listen to the following just feel it. And if a tear comes to your eye … embrace it.

Hopefully, you listened to the full seven minutes before reading on!  Because to end the post at this point would be to leave out some great connections.

The first being that the inspiration for today’s post came from Peter Sinclair’s blog Climate Denial Crock of the Week, to which I subscribe.  The post was called Music Break: Across the Universe:

Put this on in the background and let it creep up on you.

Elizabeth Shepherd performs Live-to-Air with Michael Occipinti’s Shine On: The Universe of John Lennon
Toronto, June 1, 2012 CBC Radio

UPDATE: by popular demand, the original below.

Secondly, a quick dip into WikiPedia reveals that the song was recorded by the Beatles in February 1968 at the famous Abbey Road studios and released on the 12th December, 1969. It was written by John Lennon, and credited to Lennon–McCartney.

abbey road studios
Abbey Road Studios, 3 Abbey Road, St. John’s Wood, London

Thirdly, that Wikipedia reference includes the background to the composition of the song, some of which I will share here:

One night in 1967, the phrase “words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup” came to Lennon after hearing his ex-wife Cynthia, according to Lennon, “going on and on about something.” Later, after “she’d gone to sleep—and I kept hearing these words over and over, flowing like an endless stream,” Lennon went downstairs and turned it into a song. He began to write the rest of the lyrics and when he was done, he went to bed and forgot about them.

I was lying next to my first wife in bed, you know, and I was irritated, and I was thinking. She must have been going on and on about something and she’d gone to sleep and I kept hearing these words over and over, flowing like an endless stream. I went downstairs and it turned into a sort of cosmic song rather than an irritated song, rather than a “Why are you always mouthing off at me?”[1]… [The words] were purely inspirational and were given to me as boom!. I don’t own it you know; it came through like that.[2]

The flavour of the song was heavily influenced by Lennon’s and the Beatles’ interest in Transcendental Meditation in late 1967 – early 1968, when the song was composed. Based on this he added the mantra “Jai guru deva om” (Sanskrit: जय गुरुदेव ) to the piece, which became the link to the chorus. The Sanskrit phrase is a sentence fragment whose words could have many meanings. Literally it approximates as “glory to the shining remover of darkness,”[3] and can be paraphrased as “Victory to God divine”, “Hail to the divine guru”, or the phrase commonly invoked by the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in referring to his spiritual teacher “All Glory to Guru Dev.”[4]

Finally the lyrics.

“Across The Universe”

Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup
They slither wildly as they slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my open mind
Possessing and caressing me
Jai Guru Deva OM

Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes
They call me on and on across the universe
Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box
They tumble blindly as they make their way across the universe
Jai Guru Deva OM

Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Sounds of laughter shades of live are ringing through my open ears
Inciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love which shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on, across the universe
Jai Guru Deva OM

Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva [fade out]

Footnote

The title of the song was given a new dimension when NASA beamed the song into space.

“On 4 February 2008, at 00:00 UTC, NASA transmitted the Interstellar Message “Across the Universe” in the direction of the star Polaris, 431 light years from Earth. The transmission was made using a 70m antenna in the Deep Space Network’s Madrid Deep Space Communication Complex, located outside of Madrid, Spain. It was done with an “X band” transmitter, radiating into the antenna at 18 kW. This was done to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the song’s recording, the 45th anniversary of the Deep Space Network (DSN), and the 50th anniversary of NASA. The idea was hatched by Beatles historian Martin Lewis, who encouraged all Beatles fans to play the track as it was beamed to the distant star. The event marked the first time a song had ever been intentionally transmitted into deep space, and was approved by McCartney, Yoko Ono, and Apple Corps.”

Thus those feelings so beautifully expressed in the song will be echoing around the universe for time immemorial. Now that is a legacy!