Category Archives: Music

Baby Boomers Write About the Soundtrack of Their Lives

For quite a few years now, the joke has gone something like this: If you remember the Sixties you weren’t there.

Fair enough in some ways, we suppose.

But then there’s the music. No doubt like the music of every generation, the soundtrack of our lives was largely shaped in our early years and continues today to evoke memories and transport us back to the unforgettable moments of our youth.

Or, as the title poem in WHAT BUT THE MUSIC puts it:

“What but the music might have orchestratedforgotten revolutions and unforgettable kisses?What but the music underscored every presumedtriumph and defeat, drew us into church basementsand into cheap apartments in bad neighborhoods,ripped down walls, egged us on, played us out?”

In WHAT BUT THE MUSIC: Baby Boomers Write About the Soundtrack of Their Lives scores of talented writers explore that soundtrack, artist by artist, and song by song. And, through the magic of YouTube and other similar sites, each poem and personal essay includes a suggested link (we call it “The Jukebox”) to the music itself, the perfect accompaniment to the writing.

You can try it out here.


Leave a comment

Filed under Books, essays, Music, Poetry

At Paul’s Mall

Freddie Hubbard on the bandstand
blowing away at abstract truth
until up jumped spring
and we smoke the darkness
of Paul’s Mall just as if
it will go on forever—
jazzed breath ascending
endlessly heavenward through
the coils of the flugelhorn—
and just as if one jazzedsex waitress
is still returning to our table
like first light, all lips without sound
when the trumpet washes over
the shape of her words
and we order another round,
another round if only for the sake
of the intervals sculpted by her
wordless tongue and teeth
on this again our maiden voyage.

Copyright 1998, 2014 by Kenneth Salzmann

You can hear Freddie Hubbard’s rendition of “Up Jumped Spring” on Youtube:

PaulMallLastNite StephenCabral-thumb-600x614-114754

1 Comment

Filed under Music, Poetry

New poetry podcasts now online

It amounts to something of an unplanned theme, but music–in one form or another–seems to unite this recent collection of poetry podcasts. Readings of my poems “When Summer Gathered,” “At Paul’s Mall,” “Jitterbug Waltz,” and “What But the Music” are now available  right here.


(You can find LANE CHANGE, the book in which these poems appear, as either a paperback or an eBook on Amazon.)


Leave a comment

Filed under Music, Poetry

My appearance on “Today’s Authors”

Here’s an excerpt from one of two 30-minute interviews conducted by writer/poet/broadcaster Gary McLouth. . . .

Leave a comment

December 1, 2012 · 1:15 pm

The bears were a bonus

The bears were a bonus.

The extraordinary radio show — broadcast live on WIOX and streamed in real time on the Internet — was the main attraction that night, or so we thought. It was, at any rate, our reason for driving deep into the Catskills for a chance to read on the air from CHILD OF MY CHILD, our then-new book on the eve of its official publication date.

And, in every regard, the show lived up to our expectations and then some. Dubbed “Cabaradio” and billed, accurately if also tongue-in-cheek, as “Garrison Keillor meets David Letterman meets Hee Haw,” it was the season’s installment of what has been a quarterly, two-hour variety program performed before a live audience and built of musical performances, comedy bits, poetry, storytelling, and other literary pursuits, and casual but insightful interviews with some of the key players in the economic or cultural life of a fascinating and varied region.

It was fast-paced, far-reaching, and –best of all — professionally executed without ever veering into the realm of modern-media-slick. It was real. It was impressive. And it was a blast.

The performers had something to do with that. But not everything.

The bill that night included a couple of skilled storytellers schooled in regional traditions, a two-person team of impresarios/recording producers tapping into and showcasing the area’s rich folk music traditions, a talented house band, a seasoned acoustic bluesman, a tween-age rock band, and a conversation with a regional planner (it’s an area, after all with incredible resources and incredible challenges), for starters.

Add to that a spirited, tongue-in-cheek audience Q&A segment called “Your Mother Should Know” featuring a quick-thinking, silver-haired ‘advisor’ who never strayed far from a killer punch line, and, of course, the poetry segment that had brought me into the mix, and it could only be a full and fun evening of entertainment.

As enjoyable as the on-stage pageant proved to be, however, what I most remember one year later is the energy, interest, and easy camaraderie of the highly-diverse audience. And that, it turns out, was the real point of the show.

“Cabaradio” is just one offering on the eclectic menu of programs and services offered by the Pine Hill Community Center, a remarkable little organization situated in a tiny hamlet (population 308, or so) and serving  a region of mostly tiny hamlets and towns. But that radio program (which is preceded, appropriately, by a popular pot luck dinner) makes for a compelling picture of the Pine Hill Community Center overall. The experience made it very clear that “Community” is not just a part of the feisty organization’s name, but the core value that enables it to hit the high notes that many larger and wealthier organizations only aspire to.

Which is just to say that the show was great, but in the final analysis it was the audience that truly told the story.

Oh, and about those bears– New York State wildlife experts say there are perhaps 1,500 black bears living in the Catskills these days, a growing population that has residents learning anew how to live alongside the beautiful but dangerous and sometimes-bold animals making a comeback in the region.

On the night of the “Cabaradio” program, several of us who were slated to perform found ourselves in the makeshift green room before the show, while a mother bear and her two cubs made a playground of a hillside, not much more than a first down from the window we watched from.

After the show, I bought a T-shirt featuring the “Cabaradio” logo–a black bear wearing headphones.


Leave a comment

Filed under Music, Poetry

I have a theory, or at least a hunch.

take fiveI have a theory, or at least a hunch.

I don’t think I’m the only photographer who is haunted by the one that got away, the fleeting, searing image that came into my field of view when no camera was at hand. I suspect it’s a universal experience for shooters.

For me, it came about 40 years ago when I had the opportunity to photograph the Dave Brubeck Quartet during a couple of stops on what was their 25th reunion tour, and the last tour for the great saxophonist Paul Desmond. What was left unsaid at the time was that Desmond, whose “Take Five” was a signature song for the quartet and remains an enduring jazz classic, already was battling the cancer that killed him the following year.

That’s not something I knew, however, when I pulled up to Boston Symphony Hall to catch Brubeck in rehearsal, several hours before the concert they would play that night. What I did know was that the man leaving the building through the stage door and walking slowly along the length of the drab, almost industrial looking wall that backs up the splendor the audience sees was weary, older perhaps than his chronological age of not much more than 50, and — slumping a bit and entirely alone on the street with just his horn case for company–one of the leading jazz musicians of his era.

And I knew that my cameras were still stashed in the trunk of my ’74 Subaru.

In my mind anyway, it was an image as evocative as an Alfred Stieglitz view of the Flatiron Building, with the industrial dwarfing the human.

That’s not to say any photo I might have taken might have gone mano a mano with Stieglitz’s famed photo. But the image did, and does, endure  in my mind.

That, I suppose, is why it finally emerged as a poem, written decades later (and anthologized in a wonderful collection of poems about the dual subjects of nature and music called Reeds and Rushes, edited by Kathleen Burgess and published by Pudding House).

Here’s what I saw that afternoon, and still see:

Paul Desmond’s Last Date

at Symphony Hall, Boston


So many have walked this wall

in just this way that their footfalls, too,

are beaten in sambas and rondos

into the hidden tempo of the street;

yours come down at stage door

in five-four paces,

encircling ghostly wisps of breath,

gathering again in a new confusion

of entrances and exits reedy melodies

drawn from a muscle memory of riffs

that how often have skitted

through those horns

in cool approximations of redemption.



Leave a comment

Filed under Music, Poetry