I started thinking about this song whilst reading an article about new music, which bore the subtitle, Melody Unchained. Was thinking about ending off with an instrumental version, but in the end have decided to let you choose your own from the many, or go off and write a poem about the idea of free music.
The gathering Monday night at VPL, in honour of the late Chief Dan George, was truly beautiful. My thanks to all who came together that evening. Gabriel George, Wil George, Cease Wyss, Ariadne Sawyer and Jacqueline Maire each presented, stories, songs, poetry: a really wholesome nourishing, vital and informative and engaging.
I was not one of the speakers, but of course in helping the project along, watching movie clips, listening to song, re-reading his poetry, I did have some thoughts about why this specific artist was of importance to me. Coming across his poetry in book form, as a young adult, I think I had never before heard an adult speak with such love, care, and compassionate concern to (for, about) children.
This was not the patronizing voice of the Children's Books, this was a vital and intimate voice, expressing the range of emotions that, in real life, were so much present inside and around me. None of my grown-ups had ever put words to those feelings of profound loss, compelling concern, extraordinary love. For his family, yes, but also outward from there, an all-encompassing care and concern, a vital interest, and, a sense of direction.
Re-reading his work, listening to the singers and speakers and poets on Monday evening, and especially, having the opportunity to hear again the poet/orator present his "Lament for Confederation" precisely as he intended it to be heard, has been re-affirming. There is a real wealth here that is, as every speaker noted, of highly contemporary concern. Chief Dan George's work is not simply historical document, words snatched from the air and set down to decorate pages, a few sketches added.
In the study of reality as well as of literature, the restless relegation of the great to the sideline must be forever reinspected, and held up for re-evaluation. Whatever the colonial perspective, the embodied voice is deeply necessary, and the relational perspective is not something that one can safely grow out of, and still have a coherent world to share, much less to leave for those who come along later.
The oral to the textual, the textual to the oral, and poetry to policy: there is something about the love song through time, and the works of the beloved Chief, that strike precisely the same note in me.
More about Unchained MelodyMore about the Chief + his works (some songs)