Call the Musician #7: To Ireland, Courtesy of the Mythic Figure Travel Agency
The very lovely Kilbroney Park veritably trumpets that kind of magical feeling to be found in Ireland. And, of course, the presence of mythic creatures is not just limited to giants, fairies, and elves:
(yes, that's Marla....)
But it is, of course, quintessential to heed the sign that quite directly addresses the issue of the actual level of suffusion in mythos to be found in this part of Ireland:
So, um, how exactly does a doctor from Detroit, whose early musical influences were Motown and Hebrew folk songs, not just materialize in Ireland, but go on tour there as a musician? There are two versions: one which consistent with the 'lack of evidence for non-existence' of giants, fairies, and dwarves.... and one that doesn't involve them. I could probably think of more such versions, but, for now, let's hold it to those two basic categories of explanation. But both versions involve Clive Price.
So who is Clive Price? He is journalist, publicist, theologian, bodhisattva, and mensch -- and had he so desired, he could have given John Cleese a run for his money as the Minister of Silly Walks. Without further ado, the two versions:
THE MYTHOS-LESS VERSION: For the past nine years, my wife Marla Fibish and I have been playing as a duo called Noctambule. Our first two albums were largely (though not exclusively) original musical settings of poetry; our third album was largely (though not exclusively) Irish traditional music, at Marla’s request. As many of you might know, she is an internationally renowned player of the mandolin in traditional Irish music. By contrast, I am an ‘eclecticist’, defined by one of my professors in medical school as “one who is so open that his brains fall out.”
Did he really not know that my playing blues underneath Marla's jigs..was not the product of my admittedly overdeveloped sense of whimsy, but necessitated by my ineptitude at playing jigs....
This album, then, 1) came perilously close to not being made at all, given that only one of us was a truly seasoned player of Irish music, 2) predictably did not sound like other albums of Irish music; 3) somehow nevertheless wound up on Clive’s desk at Irish Music Magazine to be reviewed, which (to paraphrase Christopher Guest in “Spinal Tap” cranked up my anxiety to “an eleven).”
Clive’s review began, “I was enjoying this album too much, it couldn’t be that good” and proceeded to “(they) blend in melted brilliance.” Whaaa? Really? Did he really not know that my playing blues under Marla’s jigs on this album wasn’t the product of my admittedly overdeveloped sense of whimsy, but necessitated by my ineptitude at playing jigs? (To actually hear what I am talking about, please click here.
So, in our attempt to find out just where we were going to send an effusive thank you note, we found out that he was a publicist…”Dear Mr. Price, thank you for the lovely review...and, by the by, would you even vaguely consider”…and then…and then…we stayed at his house in Newry as we played some local gigs, having now become very close friends with him and his wonderful wife, Janice.
(Clive, Marla, Janice, me)
Of significance is that very long theological discussions frequently took place in his kitchen......
Patrick had been a slave in Ireland and escaped to England…bidden back to Ireland by a spirit named Victor
MYTHOS-INCLUDED VERSION: Clive has a Masters degree in Celtic Christianity and wrote his thesis on St Patrick. Because my thrice weekly attendance at the Shaarey Zedek Hebrew School seemed to neglect the story of St Patrick (I intend to speak to the Curriculum Committee about this…), I dove into Wikipedia and discovered that Patrick had been a slave in Ireland and escaped to England…and was then bidden back to Ireland by a spirit named Victor (or Victoricus, depending on what account you read).
I can only echo the frequent admonition of one of my mentors, the brilliant and occasionally terrifying Professor Karl Joachim Weintraub of the University of Chicago: “I’m not making zees up, it is in ze text!!” And the long theological conversations preceded this rather synchronistic discovery. And like St Patrick, Clive followed a spiritual journey to move from England to Ireland. Like Victoricus, I, too, am from Detroit and was profoundly influenced by Motown music…and…
(picture of St. Patrick courtesy of www.marysrosaries.com)
I can admit to having taken some artistic license with -- alright, I lied -- a couple of the details of the life of Victoricus. But getting to Ireland was very much an essential part of my journey, in this whole, odd music-and-healing odyssey and I will lay out a more substantive elaboration of this belief in the next few blogs. And I can admit to relishing the exquisite symmetry of the St Patrick figure saying to the Victoricus figure “get your bad self back to Ireland!”
This just in about giants, elves, fairies, saints, and spirits: in addition to the lack of evidence for the denial of their existence, there is also no evidence that they do not function as a dharmic travel agency.