Harper Hartman

I first heard Ben Harper on a CMJ (College Music Journal) compilation cd. I like the sample & eventually found the cd Cruel World – I think the song was Mama’s Got A New Girlfriend – a cheerful song about having two moms. I have it as a stand-alone as well as Burn To Shine, & there will be a light.

Harper is adult pop with some folksy, bluesy, even soul undertones. He plays a wicked slide guitar. His voice is appealing & emotional without striving to over-emote. ‘be a light’ features the Blind Boys of Alabama & is uplifting, spiritual without being overly religious. As much as I enjoy his cds I found that three was enough. I’ve heard others but, to be honest, I couldn’t tell one from the other.

A quick word about CMJ. I was a loyal follower of this monthly magazine & loved the compilation cds that introduced me to endless music. They were as eclectic as my collection with sample tracks from jazz, electronic, dance music, blues, pop, punk, rap, world music all on the same cd. The frustrating thing was that often what I really liked was unavailable in Canada.

Near Harper is an lp to cd transfer of Dan Hartman’s Instant Replay, with some tracks from a disco compilation Hot Nights & City Lights. ‘Replay’ was one of the few disco lps that was more than a hit song. Each track had energy & I always love hearing it when it comes up in my play rotation. I remember being compelled to dance to that title song when ever a dj played it, the same was true for Countdown. Hot Nights is a nicely mixed set of classic disco songs such as Boogie Oogie Oogie; Love Is In The Air – all of which make me feel like a teenager coming out 🙂

Pagan

‘Just smell the pine.’ Chris took a deep breath. He nodded to Peter to do the same thing.

‘Yeah. Pine.’ Peter breathed out. He didn’t really smell anything like pine. ‘Not very strong though.’

‘What do you mean?’ Chris pushed aside a branch and held it so Peter could pass. ‘Can’t mistake that smell. Or were you expecting Pinesol?’

‘Yeah. Something like that.’ Peter felt himself redden. In this cold it wouldn’t be noticeable.

‘Something like reality.’ Chris’s laugh echoed through the trees. ‘This is real. This is the goddamned outdoors.’ He stooped and pulled up a clump of snow, dirt. ‘This is the land. Not some high-def image. The soil. Something we don’t get enough of in the city. ’

‘I have enough dirt in my back yard.’

‘Yeah, right.’ Chris scoffed.  ‘All that chemical fertilizer and weed control doesn’t leave much of nature in that soil.’

‘Enough for … ’

‘There it is.’ 

They stopped. Peter saw the tree. Tall. Green. Biggest pine he had ever seen.

‘She is a beauty.’ Peter said.

‘She! Hell, that’s a he tree if I’ve ever seen one.’

‘I’m not going to argue that with you. So we going just gawk or chop.’

‘Neither.’ Chris took off his back pack.

‘I thought we were going to get real trees this year. None of that tree farm shit for us.’

‘Right you are but by real I meant we’d get real ourselves. Here … ’ He handed Peter two red candles. ‘Put one over there and the other directly opposite it. Stick close to the edge of the fir.’

‘You crazy or what.’

‘Trust me.’

‘Okay.’

Chris trod a path around the tree that criss-crossed at several points. In each another candle was placed and lit. A slight wind came up.

‘Next …’ Chris handed him a beer and opened one for himself. ‘repeat after to me … We drink to the spirit of the fir.’

‘We drink to the spirit of the fir.’

‘Now take a swallow and spit it out.’

Peter did.

‘Turn around and do the same thing again.’

Peter did. At first he felt foolish. He glanced around to make sure no one was watching. He closed his eyes and when he opened them the light had changed.

‘You see the difference?’ Chris asked.

‘Yeah? What is this? Some sort of pagan ritual.’

‘Could be. Just intent. Something my Dad showed me once. He said he had to pass it along to someone. Now I’m passing it along to you. We have to revere the land a little. Acknowledge the spirit.’

Peter took a deep breath. He could smell the pine. ‘I smell it.’

‘What?’

‘The pine! The pine! I can really smell it! I smell the earth too.’

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