Chapter 1: Loomings

Let me begin by saying: read this book. Every day, as I revisit these pages to write, I am floored by the beauty and complexity of such a strange book about whaling. Let me also say the following: you have to be a nerd to like Moby Dick. Not interested in the minute details of a dead art? Not interested in the lore of the sea? Not interested in reading a thirteen page chapter about classifications of whales? Do yourself a favor — take a deep breath, let yourself be nerdy, and then read this book.

This blog is the result of a collision. I am a teacher. I have summers off. I set two small tasks for myself this past summer. 1) I wanted to try and write a song per day through both months of summer. 2) I wanted to read Moby Dick. As I read Moby Dick and wrote my songs, the tasks slowly merged. Every now and then, a chapter of Moby Dick would inspire a song. By August, I had finished the book and was writing ninety percent of my songs about various chapters.

I set a new task for the year — write a song per day, one song for every chapter of the book.  My soon to be wife had the brilliant idea to present these songs as a blog.  I can record about one song in a week, and I’ll post them here as I finish them.

We’ll start with “Chapter 1: Loomings,” and end with “Epilogue,” but otherwise not follow any particular order through the book. Melville in many ways was the first modernist and the first post-modernist, so I think he’d approve. I hope you all enjoy.

Expect regular posts every Sunday from here on out.

Chapter 1: Loomings

Oh, the many morbid things
That the Fates obliquely sing
To the poets
Through a man come tumbling down.

You can call me Ishmael,
May the Muse speak through me well
As I sing to you
The world’s most principal song.

And were you
Lost in your deepest thoughts
Where need you be
But the ocean?
And so my story goes.

As a wounded Narcissus
The ocean gives to us
A reflection
An inflection of the deep.

And were you
Lost in your deepest thoughts
Where need you be
But the ocean?
And so my story goes.

And how
He
Looms
In the middle
Of it all
Spectacularly.

[instrumental]

And were you
Lost in your deepest thoughts
Where need you be
But the ocean?
And so my story goes.

And how
He
Looms
In the middle
Of it all
Spectacularly.

(c) and (p) 2008 Patrick Shea
Words and music written by Patrick Shea August 1, 2008
All parts performed, arranged, and recorded by Patrick Shea August 5, 2008

Published in: on October 9, 2008 at 9:38 am  Comments (6)  
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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Patrick,
    I love this song. Ever consider adding fiddle to it?
    -Molly : )

  2. I bought the book today and am looking forward to reading it as well as your weekly blog. The song was beautiful–the song of a minstrel.

    Mom

  3. Moby Dick is an endless book. I would be surprised if it didn’t keep inspiring more people to live in it.
    Moby moves from shelf to shelf from room to room with me so that I know it is there when I need to refresh from the trite. I discovered it during my summer break and I still can’t recall what else happened during those two months.
    I am so glad I learned English and lucky to know the life of the sea.

  4. […] On top of all that joy, they’re actually pretty good, though I will confess that I have yet to listen to all 135 songs (136 with one for the Epilogue!). Listen to them all on his blog. […]

  5. I lived in Moby Dick the first time I read it, whaling descriptions and all. I’m reading a chapter a day, accompanied by your song. So far, so good. A fine and appropriate commentary/interpretation of chapter one.

  6. I’m flattered to be a part of your re-read! I hope to hear from you more over the next 135 days. Thanks for writing.


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