A compilation of lyrics from his works
U. S. Highball
Seventeen Lyrics by Li Po
During the 40+ years of composing, and especially during the first 20 or so, Harry Partch maintained a strong bond with, and love for, the spoken word. In fact, it was the proper setting of text with music (or maybe more correctly, with tones) that begat Partch's inquiries into just intonation, and his moving away from traditional European-style settings. These following are words that became part of his corporeal presentation, syllables with pitches.
Additionally, the works that formed the larger grouping of compositions that are referred to as "The Wayward" (Barstow, U. S. Highball, San Francisco Newsboys, The Letter, and Ulysses at the Edge of the World) contain remarkably evocative language; a portrait of speech patterns and mannerisms that, filtered though daily experience, were not only modes of communication but models of expression. Though never one to purposely separate a holistic approach into individual components, it is hard to not see the intrinsic interest and beauty in these dialogues. [JMS]
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|U. S. HIGHBALL|
This rendering of the text from an early version of U. S. Highball comes from a brochure that accompanied the recording Partch did in Madison, Wisconsin, and released by Warren E. Gilson. In this light, it is a perfect compliment to Innova Recordings "Enclosure 2" (Innova 401), which contains this recording preserved on CD. Partch included the following notes at the beginning of the brochure:
"U. S. HIGHBALL is an account of "Slim's" trans-continental hobo trip, in a speech-music style. Compositionally and geographically it is in three sections: an introductory "highball" from Carmel, California, to Green River, Wyoming; a middle movement of hobo reminiscences at Little America, Wyoming; and a final "highball" over the road from Little America to Chicago."
Leaving Carmel, Californi-el---
I got a letter and the letter said: "May God's richest blessings be upon
you . . " and that's why I'm going to Chicago.
Leaving San Francisco, Californi-o---
Going east, mister? . . . It's the freights for you, boy.
Leaving Colfax, Californi-ax!
"Let 'er highball, engineer!"
Leaving Emigrant Gap, Californi-ap!
"If you want to stay in one piece sleep on the back end of the oil tank, buddy. She's tough goin' down the other side of the Sierras."
Leaving Truckee, Californigh-ee-ee---
"Hey, Slim, you'll get killed on that oil tank. There's a empty back here!"
Leaving Sparks, Neva-darks!
"I ain't got no matches, ain't got no tobacco, ain't got no chow, ain't got no money. Hey, Slim, is that blanket big enough for two?"
Leaving Ocala, Nevada---
"Hey, Slim, don't sleep with your head against the end of the car. You'll get your neck broke when she jerks. How're the bulls down where you come from, Slim?"
Leaving Lovelock, Neva-dock!
"She's gonna hole in to let a coupla passengers by!"
Leaving Imlay, Neva-day--
"Freeze another night tonight, goin' over the hump. That's another bad hump this side o' Cheyenne. Tsa bitch! That Cheyenne, huh. That used to be a bad town, but not any more, so much. They used to have a school there for railroad bulls. They taught the rookie bulls the easiest way to beat up on poor helpless bums. But the school's moved to Denver now. It moves hack and forth, from Cheyenne to Denver. Stay out o' Denver, Slim!"
Leaving Winnemucca, Neva-ucca---
"We'll highball it down to Omaha - then head for the carnival in Alabama. How 'bout it, Slim?"
"No water here in these corrals. They only turn it on once a year, roundup time. No water for us today."
Leaving Carlin, Neva-din---
"They've gone and sealed up our empty! And all the rest are sealed refrigerators. Sh--! Not even a gon-do-la!"
"Wait for the next drag - there'll he lotsa empties on it. Too cold to ride outside this weather.... Look at them northern lights! See them long streaks up in the sky? You can't ride outside in weather like this. We'll build a fire so when the next drag stops all the 'bos 'll come runnin' over to get warm. Then we'll know where there's a empty."
Leaving Elko, Neva-do---
"There she jerks again! I can stand everything but them jerks. They make me nervous. And the dirt, too. Yesterday I washed all my clothes in the Roseville Jungle, and I looked so good when I put 'em on that I took a walk, up into town. Now look at me! Look at all the guys on this drag --- not only dirty but they're old before their time. Ridin' freights'll make an old man out of ya, Slim. Still, I can stand that, and the dirt. Can stand everything but the jerks."
Crossing Great Salt Lake, U-take!
Going east, mister? .. . Back to the freights for you, boy.
Leaving Ogden, U-ten---
"Any thirty-nine hundred engine is going east, Slim. That oil tank's a tough one to ride, though; but I guess there's nothin' else. Well, it's your funeral."
Leaving Evansting, Wyom-ming!
"Watch out for those jerks the next fifteen miles, Slim. You've got to hang on every second or you'll go under when she jerks. He really balls the jack goin' down the grade."
Green River, Wyo-mer---
"Can stand everything but the jerks."
Rock Springs, Wyo-o-Oh-o-mings---
Going east, mister? . . . "There are lots of rides but they don't stop much, do they, pal?"
There are rides on the highway at Green River, but they go right on by. There are rides on the freights at Green River too, but the Green River bull says:
"You exclamation mark bum! Get your semicolon asterisk out o' these yards, and don't let me catch you down here again, or you'll get thirty days in the jailhouse!"
Green River, Wyo-mer!
S-s-s-s-s-stuck! in Green River.
"Want a job potwallopin'? Okay, get in!"
Little America, Wyo-ma!
"Short stack, fry 'em on the side, over easy. Coupla babies and a chicken in spuds. Say, boy, hurry up with them bread and butter plates."
Leaving Little America, Wyo-ma!
I have a letter and the letter says: "May God's richest blessings be upon you . . . " and that's why I'm going to Chicago. Going east, mister? . . . Whoopiday! I got one! Chicago, Chicago . . .
Leaving Laramie, Wyo-mie--- Yih! hoo---
Chicago, Chicago, Chicago . . .
Leaving Cheyenne, Wyo-manne!
Chi-cago, cago. Chi-cago, cago . . .
Leaving Pine Bluffs, Wyo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-muffs!
Chicago, Chicago, Chica-go . . .
Leaving Kimball, Nebras-ass-kall---
North Platte, Nebras-katte!
"The Salvation Army. Notice to transients: This city allows you two meals and bed for one night only. Do not leave this place after six p.m. By order of the chief of po-lice."
Praise the Lord, O praise the Lord . . . O praise the Lord---
Leaving North Platte, Nebras-ass-katte!
"Such damn people! I can't get a ride. To hell with Nebraska! Also to hell with Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, California, Nevada, and Utah!"
Leaving York, Nebras-kork!
Chicago, aga, aga ogo aga, Chicogo, ogo, ogo aga ogo . . .
Leaving Lincoln, Nebras-kon! . . .
Leaving Council Bluffs, I-o-wuffs!
"Jack Parkin, 111 West William St., Champaign, Illinois. Telephone 8426 if hungry when there."
Chi-chi-chi-chi-chi-chi . . . gah-go! Yih! hoo---
Leaving Davenport, I-o-wort! . . . Dee dee dee dee blessings be upon you . . .
|BARSTOW: Eight Hitchhiker Inscriptions from a Highway Railing at Barstow, California|
|Seventeen Lyrics by Li Po|
|A special thanks is in order to Chris Nelson, who submitted the Li Po lyrics to me already set in ascii, and then I took forever to get them online. The dates and places of composition, along with revision information, are from Dr. Bob Gilmore; the notes accompanying the texts are from the translator, Shigeyoshi Obata. [JMS]|
1. The Long-Departed Lover
Fair one, when you were here, I filled the house with flowers.
2. On The City Street
3. An Encounter In The Field
Came an amorous rider,
4. The Intruder
The grass of Yen is growing green and long
5. On Ascending The Sin-Ping Tower
An exile, I ascend this tower,
6. In The Spring-Time On The South Side Of The Yangtze Kiang
Note: Both the stray cloud and the migratory birds remind the poet of his own wanderings.
The green spring--and what time?
7. The Night Of Sorrow
8. On Hearing The Flute In The Yellow Crane House
A wandering exile, I came away to Long Beach.
9. On Hearing The Flute At Lo-Cheng One Spring Night
Note: The "Willow-breaking" was a popular parting song.
Whence comes this voice of the sweet bamboo,
10. A Dream
Note: In this poem the poet describes his dream of visiting Mt. Tien-mu, "Fostermother of the skies", in Chehkiang. The other mountains, Chi-Cheng, the "Scarlet Castle", and Tien-tai, the "Terrace of Heaven", are located in the same province. Prince Hsieh is a poet-governor of the 4th century under the Chin dynasty whom Li Po admired immensely.
The sea-farers tell of the Eastern Isle of Bliss,
11. On Seeing Off Meng Hao-Jan
Note: The Yellow Crane House stood till a recent date not far from the city of Wu-chang, Hupeh, on a hill overlooking the Yangtze-kiang. Once upon a time the dead man of Shuh, traveling on the back of a yellow crane, stopped here to rest. Hence the name of the house. There is another interesting story just as authentic, according to which: there stood here a tavern kept by a man whose name was Chin, to whom one day a tall rugged professor in rags came and asked very complacently, "I haven't money, will you give me wine?" The tavern keeper was game; he readily offered to the stranger the biggest tumbler and allowed him to help himself to all the wine he wanted day after day for half a year. At last the professor said to Chin, "I owe you some wine money. I'll pay you now." So saying, he took lemon peels and with it smeared on the wall a picture of a yellow crane, which at the clapping of his hands came to life and danced to the tune of his song.
My friend bade farewell at the Yellow Crane House,
12. On The Ship Of Spice-Wood
Note: The poet is in his typical mood. The poem is a manifesto of his happy triumphant existence of freedom and of sensual and poetical indulgence. Mu-lan is the name of a precious wood. Chu-ping, or Chu Yuan, 332-295 B.C. was a loyal minister under Huai-wang, the ruler of the Chu state. He is celebrated for his poems, which include the famous Li Sao. The river Han is a large tributary of the Yangtze, which originates in Shensi and flows southwestward through Hupeh, joining the main stream at Hankow.
My ship is built of spice-wood and has a rudder of mu-lan;
13. With A Man Of Leisure
Yonder the mountain flowers are out.
14. A Midnight Farewell
15. Before The Cask Of Wine
The spring wind comes from the east and quickly passes,
16. By The Great Wall
He rides his white charger by the Fortalice of Gold,
17. I Am A Peach Tree
Note: These two stanzas are taken from a poem written by Li Po in behalf of his wife, expressing her sentiment toward himself.
I am a peach tree blossoming in a deep pit.
1. Two Studies on Ancient Greek Scales: Olympos' Pentatonic (1946)