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about

This song was a gift from the, late, great James Booker, venerable Maharajah among the Rare Birds. One of the finest gifts of becoming a citizen of New Orleans is the fact that my naturalization brought this great being into my awareness. I've spent as much time as time permits with Booker's recordings, trying to demystify his pianism, something that will never happen for me, but the longing still serves me. At a time when the role of piano had re-emerged in my life as a deliberate tool for healing, Joshua Paxton's epic collections of Booker transcriptions sat at my piano, and that enigmatic cover photo taunted me while I attempted to excavate the Chopin and Debussy repertoire that informed my younger years with " You know, I was more of a Rachmaninoff kinda guy myself....."

Being a raging introvert, I've been known to have conversations with photographs for a good portion of my adult life. Such was the case with Booker. He encouraged me to be myself, to tell my story the way I want to tell it. He told me to embrace the light and dark of me, even when the people around me were received me unfavorably. "Don't you pay dem no mind, baby..." he'd say in that New Orleans kinda way, even though his ass came from Mississippi.

I asked about his pain, his solitude, his rage. I asked him if it was easier for him on the other side of the veil. He said yes, that he'd been born for the other side of the veil without really knowing it, but that he kinda wished he hadn't spent so much of his life working so hard to get back there so quickly. He said when he was alive, he could see humanity, but he couldn't see people. He could see the forest but not the trees. He said now he was the forest, and he had the freedom and spaciousness to love every tree, even me. He said he loved me as I was, and he especially loved how much I still loved playing classical piano. He said it was ok that my brain was broken in a way that caused me to panic when I played, because I could feel my love anyway. He said there was nothing wrong with humility and the vulnerability that lies therein. After all, "ain't nobody really got nothin' over nobody no way. We all going to the same place anyway...."

He gave me the song, telling me that's what I was, a little rare bird, and I could play my little rudimentary stride like a quiet little rare bird if I wanted to...and then he said, "why don't you put a little bit of that frenchy impressionist stuff you like in there while you're at it, that way you'll know it's yours...that way when you play it, you can play that part just for you and nobody else...." Thus the progression for the interlude and outro were born...and for me became the fundamental chord progression of orange music. Blues changes are I7, IV7, V7, I7, Orange changes are bVIImaj9, bVImaj9, bIIImaj6, I2, in case you were wondering.

lyrics

RARE BIRD RARE BIRD COME AS YOU ARE
DON’T YOU PAY US NO MIND
RARE BIRD, RARE BIRD LAND WHERE YOU WILL
BUT DON’T YOU PAY US NO MIND
RARE BIRD, SO RARE YOU MAKE US BELIEVE
WE BECOME FEARFUL AND WE MAKE YOU BLEED
RARE BIRD, RARE BIRD
FLY AS YOU MIGHT
AND DON’T YOU PAY US NO MIND

RARE BIRD, OH RARE BIRD SING ALL YOUR SONGS
AND DON’T YOU PAY US NO MIND
RARE BIRD, SWEET RARE BIRD YOU’RE WHERE YOU BELONG
SO DON’T YOU PAY US NO MIND
RARE BIRD, IT’S YOU BORN TO THE SKY
YOU TURN US TOWARD HOPE, WE TURN AND HIDE SO
RARE BIRD, RARE BIRD
FLY AS YOU MIGHT
AND DON’T YOU PAY US NO MIND

RARE BIRD, RARE BIRD I WISH I WERE YOU
BUT DON’T YOU PAY ME NO MIND
RARE BIRD, OH RARE BIRD
I’M ICARUS TOO BUT DON’T YOU PAY ME NO MIND
RARE BIRD, MY SWEET I SOAR AND I BURN
I HUNT, I SCAVENGE, HUNGER AND YEARN
RARE BIRD, OH RARE BIRD
FLY AS YOU MIGHT
AND DON’T YOU PAY ME NO MIND

RARE BIRD, RARE BIRD ALONE IN THE SUN
DON’T YOU PAY US NO MIND
RARE BIRD, RARE BIRD BELONG TO BUT ONE
AND DON’T YOU PAY US NO MIND
RARE BIRD DON’T TELL US YOU’RE LONELY UP THERE
THAT YOUR WINGS BECOME WEARY WE’VE OUR OWN CROSS TO BEAR
RARE BIRD, RARE BIRD
FLY AS YOU MIGHT
AND DON’T YOU PAY US NO MIND

credits

from ORANGE MUSIC, VOLUMES I & II, released January 15, 2017
Liz Hogan / Joy Clark, guitar
William Laird, bass
Wade Hymel, drums
Ole Oddlokken, tenor sax
Ryan Murray, percussion

Recorded by Be Lorio for The Music Shed and FRD for Sanctuary Studios, New Orleans, LA

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about

LILLI LEWIS @folkrockdiva New Orleans, Louisiana

Lilli Lewis bears a progressive, provocative, and conscientious presence paired with a love for music that began before she composed her first song on the piano at age three, Lewis is a modern day Renaissance woman, who, when in full gear, conjures the likes of Big Mama Thornton, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Odetta, and Janis Joplin. ... more

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