Monday, August 14, 2006

sapphic or Sapphic?

NPR's Song of the Day today is a pretty jazz tune written by an openly lesbian singer, pianist, and composer of some acclaim (the Guggenheim Fellowship in songwriting) whose name is Patricia Barber (born 1956; her website; her myspace).

I'm really impressed. She has some beautiful songs--some jazzy and some not--that make use of a combination of her talented voice and really great instrumentals in the background. Sure, there's piano, and that's nice, but there's also a jazz band (picture the slow background music behind Mike Myers' poetry in So I Married an Axe Murderer), and there are also songs pairing her angelic voice with the hypnotic sound of an acoustic Spanish guitar. Oh, and this description completely takes for granted the power of her lyrics.

Go and see what I mean. Three of her songs are available for streaming from MySpace and the song of the day is available from the article.

Greek Myths in a Same-Sex Love Song by John Murph
  • Song: "Narcissus"
  • Artist: Patricia Barber
  • CD: Mythologies
  • Genre: Jazz

An openly gay singer, pianist and composer who won the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in the new category of songwriting to create Mythologies, Barber confirmed in a recent interview that the song involves a Sapphic love affair -- "It could be the gay wedding song," she says -- but the poignancy of "Narcissus" comes not only from her intentions, but also through its wistful beauty.

Shouldn't "Sapphic" be uncapitalized there? I'm sure that it's debatable whether or not capitalized Sapphic and uncapitalized sapphic can be interchanged, but I think that it's more common to use Sapphic to refer to a particular form of poetic construction and sapphic to refer to lesbians.

Either way, it's a pretty song.

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