Chasing Sheep Is Best Left To Shepherds by Michael Nyman on Grooveshark
(It is helpful to hit “play” before reading.)
This is not the time for “no.” There are no “no”s today. There is only “yes!”
You are telling yourself “no” today. You’re seeing only what is in front of you– you’re looking around your room, you don’t have to go outside today, you don’t need to do your laundry, don’t buy food, don’t go into town, you don’t need to get stuck talking to someone who wants to ask about how your mind is operating. But don’t do it– don’t go over to that record player and put on some sappy bummer of a chilled out song. Something maybe with an acoustic guitar and a sad man talking over it. This man is in Europe, it’s the 1960s, and he’s learned how to fail in love. He’s a human fly stuck in the gum of self-hate. Tune him out! These voices to you today are bloated, washed-up carnival ticket-takers, he’s standing in an empty field, his two-toned tent torn somewhere behind him, and pastel cotton-candy, perverted side-shows, ladies with big hats, all anecdotes now, as he walks out back in the middle of winter to find his favorite horse has gone. Your sadness will become more useful when you realize your powerless and insignificance– embrace it! It’s here today! Go for a walk in the woods under a beam, don’t look for the horse. Lather twice today. Try flossing, afterward run your tongue over your teeth and gums. Slap someone awake. (Yourself?) Lay this old year to rest only after reaching a hand in and troubling the water.
Nyman understands this, his wonder-work “Chasing Sheep is Best Left to Shepherds”– conducting all these instruments to one uniform sugar-high climax, an orchestra of frenetic six year olds, a classroom of electric beasts, led by an epileptic clarinet, he’s prompting your chapped lips to a decisive burst of “yes,” your dry itchy hand to ball into a fist and shoot into the air with one pump. You can’t sit to this song. There are few songs that cause you to react in this way– “Crazy In Love” by Beyonce and Jay-Z is one, Eno can do it, Michael Nyman. Learn from them! I’ve made a playlist for you*– get dressed, put some shine in your hair. Soap a floor, cut some old branches. Get off the computer and rustle some pages. The blank winter sky is above you and you can shoot whatever you want into it. Shake a pair of shoulders, man! Affirm this life you’re living.
This is it!
Ella Longpre lives in Northampton, Massachusetts. She works in a library and makes music in the band dust savior. Some of her writing can be found in NOÖ Journal and on Futurepoem’s blog, and in old magazines. Her fiction has appeared in Dinosaur Bees, and her poems have appeared in Summer Stock.