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Maggie Roche, 1951-2017

Ms. Roche (left) developed a pop-folk songwriting style that could be droll or diaristic, full of unexpected melodic turns and often inseparable from the way the sisters’ voices harmonized and diverged. On albums from the early 1970s into the 2000s, Maggie Roche’s songs chronicled a woman’s life from early stirrings of independence (“The Hammond Song”) and amorous entanglements (“The Married Men”) to thoughts on longtime connection (“Can We Go Home Now”). They often mixed heartfelt revelations and flinty punch lines.

With the Roches, and in duos with each of her sisters, she released more than a dozen albums. The Roches never had a major hit, but the group maintained a devoted following. They shrugged off disappointments in “Big Nuthin’,” a song the trio wrote together. “We’d like to make a million dollars and be set for life,” Maggie Roche told The Los Angeles Times in 1995. “We’ve been lucky, though. We have a career, and that is a gift. I guess I want things to be easy, but that’s not the way it is.”

Source: NY TImes obituary.

Unique harmonies, clear as a bell, and an infectious sometimes whimsical uplift; I never stopped listening to the Roches. Rest in peace, Maggie.

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An inaugural poem from Robert Pinsky

‘Exile and Lightning’

You choose your ancestors our
Ancestor Ralph Ellison wrote.
Now, fellow-descendants, we endure a
Moment of charismatic indecency
And sanctimonious greed. Falsehood
Beyond shame. Our Polish Grandfather
Milosz and African American Grandmother Brooks
Endured worse than this.
Fight first, then fiddle she wrote.
Our great-grandmother Emma Lazarus
Wrote that the flame of the lamp of the
Mother of Exiles is “Imprisoned lightning.”
 My fellow children of exile
And lightning, the indecency
Constructs its own statuary.
But our uncle Ernesto Cardenal
Says, sabemos que el pueblo
la derribará un día. The people
Will tear it down. Milosz says,
Beautiful and very young
, meaning recent,
Are poetry and philo-sophia, meaning science,
Her ally in the service of the good . …

Their enemies, he wrote, have delivered
Themselves to destruction.
“Un dia,” and “very young” — that long
Ancestral view of time:
Inheritors, el pueblo, fellow-exiles:
All the quicker our need to
Fight and make music. As Gwendolyn
Brooks wrote, To civilize a space.

Source: CNN

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This beautiful, forgotten essay from 1968 has terrific advice for today’s protesters

‘[Peter S.] Beagle’s achingly tender, sorrowful account of the [Poor People’s Campaign] is a reminder of the enormous political power that disenfranchised people can have when they are unified en masse — and of how wastefully that power can be squandered by an incompetent leadership. It’s a powerful prescriptive for how today’s protest campaigns can plan their work. It’s also an enormously beautiful essay.’

Source:  Vox