Hurdy-Gurdy

We just took our first trip in 17 months. This was the longest we’ve ever gone without traveling. COVID-19 restrictions have made it tricky to leave the country. You never know where the next outbreak is going to come from, and we weren’t excited at the prospect of quarantining for two weeks on a border somewhere. So, we did a road trip inside Germany….

Our first stop was the UNESCO World Heritage city of Würzburg. [1]

Würzburg’s Residential Palace was built from 1720-1744 by Balthasar Neumann and is the most important building from the Southern German Baroque era. Definitely worth a visit! But I want to talk about a little statue I found in the Court Gardens in the back.

‘Twas then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man Came singing songs of love – Donovan

“Look! It’s a hurdy-gurdy player!” I exclaimed.

“What’s that?” Uwe asked.

“A strange instrument that the musician cranks to play: It buzzes and drones. Donovan sang about it.”

See the crank he’s turning?

The hurdy-gurdy is about 900 years old and maybe came from a fiddle. An even earlier version was the organistrum and required two people to play it, one to crank the handle and the second musician to pull up on the keys. It was used for choral music. The hurdy-gurdy or something like it, the lira in the Byzantine Empire, was described by Ibn Khurradadhbih. The next version of the hurdy-gurdy was called the symphonia. It was smaller, with three strings and keys that could be pressed from underneath. Present-day hurdy-gurdies have either a guitar body or a lute back.

Musicians in high courts played the hurdy-gurdy until it fell out of favor, and the hurdy-gurdy is mostly familiar now as an instrument used by roving minstrels. According to Wikipedia, in the Ukraine hurdy-gurdies are still played by itinerant, often blind, hurdy-gurdists called lirnyky. [2]

The instrument was saved from obscurity, helped no doubt by Donovan’s song in 1968. He wrote Hurdy Gurdy Man while studying Transcendental Meditation in India with the Beatles. Apparently, he wanted Jimi Hendrix to perform the song. Now, that would have been one hell of a recording! As it is, George Harrison helped with the lyrics. Jimmy Page, John Bonham and John Paul Jones all performed on the recording before they went on to form a little group named Led Zeppelin.

All my life, Hurdy Gurdy Man is one of those songs that floats in my consciousness. It’s as mystic and magical as a tale told by a wandering troubadour.

Thrown like a star in my vast sleep
I opened my eyes to take a peek
To find that I was by the sea
Gazing with tranquility

‘Twas then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man

Came singing songs of love
Then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
Came singing songs of love

“Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy gurdy” he sang

“Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy gurdy” he sang
“Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy gurdy” he sang

Histories of ages past

Unenlightened shadows cast
Down through all eternity
The crying of humanity

‘Tis then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man

Comes singing songs of love
Then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
Comes singing songs of love [3]

NOTES: [1] My readers know that Uwe and I make a beeline for World Heritage sites. They’ve always, always been worth the effort! [2] wiki/Hurdy-gurdy [3] Source: LyricFind. Hurdy Gurdy Man lyrics © Peermusic Publishing. PS: I learned a lot writing this post!

© Jadi Campbell 2021. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was a 2020 Best Book Award Finalist for Fiction Anthologies. The title story was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was named a semifinalist for the 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Prize.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

 

 

My Schizoid Loop

King Crimson is infamous for a song named 21st Century Schizoid Man.

Cat’s foot iron claw
Neurosurgeons scream for more
At paranoia’s poison door
Twenty first century schizoid man

Blood rack, barbed wire
Politicians’ funeral pyre
Innocents raped with napalm fire
Twenty first century schizoid man

Death seed blind man’s greed
Poets starving, children bleed
Nothing he’s got he really needs
Twenty first century schizoid man

Songwriters: Robert Fripp/Michael Rex Giles/Greg Lake/Ian Mcdonald/ Peter John Sinfield. 21st Century Schizoid Man (2004 original master edition) lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

That’s the opening soundtrack to days that are hard in lockdown. I’m fine most of the time. The sky is a blue I cannot remember ever seeing. Less pollution and few cars on the roads mean more and louder birds than before.

And I go for walks, and practice self-care. I love to cook, so that’s more than all right. I can take my time with elaborate recipes. Great way to channel my restlessness. Uwe and I live together in lockdown harmoniously most of the time.

Last night’s quiche

Some days, though,  I exist in a schizoid loop. I’m trapped in repeating cycles of WTF WTF WTF? Every couple of days I feel this: boom. I understand how we got to where we are right now. We’ve been pushing the envelope for decades. Why did we think we’d be exempt? Boom! But hard as I try, I cannot grasp how swiftly our world changed once that final roll of the cosmic dice was set in play.

We’ve been taken down by a virus, something you can’t even see without a microscope.

BOOM!

And fuck doing yoga, and meditating, and the crap version that’s all I can remember of the tai chi I learned from a Chinese man in my San Francisco neighborhood 40 years ago. What’s happening now overwhelms me. Forget trying to understand the point of view that claims we just need to get back to business as usual. That bullshit is literally killing us.

I gather myself back into a little ball and slowly unwind my cramped limbs and psyche. Writing helps more than anything. My first collection of short stories is taking shape as I try to deal with what’s happening.

I have friends with health issues who  live in  deadly serious lockdown. A few weeks into the self-quarantine the radio station I listen to played It’s All Too Much, a song from the Yellow Submarine album.  I’ve always loved this song! The Beatles were a big part of life’s soundtrack for my entire family, including my parents when they were alive.

My friend and her husband are Beatles fans too, and they turned me onto Radio Paradise in the first place. I was all smiles that morning, such fond associations and sweet memories all around. I thought, Hey, I’m gonna call her, and she answered her cell phone with a really cheery “Hi there!”

I lost it. I burst into tears and couldn’t stop crying. She hung on and waited for me to be able to speak, because that’s what friends do, and at some point my  crying jag stopped just as abruptly as it began. “That was not my plan when I dialed your number!” I said. “That’s the first time this has happened to me since this crisis began. I have a feeling it won’t be the last.”

And we had a really good laugh. I’m learning how to be less careful with my emotional balance, I figure if I need to weep then bring it on, because on some days crying is the single response that even approaches appropriate. I haven’t broken down since, but when I’m out for a walk and I see a family with little children in the distance, I feel those tears. Or when I hear from people I know in my present life, or from my past. Or anywhere else on the globe.

WTF WTF WTF?? I’m a hot mess, and that’s as it should be. If I find myself crying again, I’ll be in good company.

When I look into your eyes, your love is there for me
And the more I go inside, the more there is to see

It’s all too much for me to take
The love that’s shining all around you
Everywhere, it’s what you make
For us to take, it’s all too much

Songwriter: George Harrison. It’s All Too Much lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Stay safe everyone. Stay healthy.

NOTES: © Text Jadi Campbell 2020.  © Photos Uwe Hartmann 2020. To see Uwe’s photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de. Source: LyricFind

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