As our visit to Toraja approached I spent a long time thinking about what I would sing there, within those magical mountains and mysterious caves. I knew I wanted to sing some of my dream haiku as I’d been doing in Montreal since the spring. Singing my dreams combines mystic detective work with musical ideas I’ve gathered while singing free jazz, something like Jack Kerouac’s haiku with jazz but delving beyond stream of consciousness to a stream from the unconscious.
With the sudden passing of my cousin Marianne, the babysitter of my youth, my comrade-in-arms for revitalizing hiking getaways in Palm Springs, I scoured my journals for dreams of her. And wrote my haiku based on these. As news of Marianne’s illness was unfolding far too swiftly, my friend Susan Briscoe began her blog The Death Project, which was born of her own terminal cancer diagnosis. I selected a page from the Crow’s Vow, a collection of her poems, and brought all these words with me to our artist residency and up the winding road to Toraja. I wasn’t sure what else I would sing but I was determined to sing Susan’s poem and dreams of Marianne together as my offering to the mystical caves of Ke’te Kesu, here in one of the few places of the world that treats death, not as something to be feared and avoided, but as the quest of all life.
Here is the song we performed, with the joyful accompaniment of my band and our new friend, bassist Fendy Rizk. There was dancing in the audience and singing along and one could feel the spirits were with us, helping us to send our best wishes to everyone on all astral planes.
Much of the imagery is from my travels in California, with the bighorn sheep, cliffs, sand and Susan’s coyotes, and I’ve returned to mix the song as wildfires destroy so much of the beauty around there again. So this is an offering to the fire gods to give it a rest and to step away as quickly as possible too. I don’t know if it will work but it is a song filled with wishes from the past, the present and the future. What more can we do?