Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I like so much the title of the book of letters of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya that I spend a couple of days living with the title before I start the book.

"Speak Low (When You Speak of Love.)"

Then I start the book and find that the title of the book is from the title of a song with music by Kurt Weill and words by Ogden Nash.

Ogden Nash! That's the first time I contemplated over time words by Ogden Nash.

I thought did he write so many kind funny, feather light poems if he could write like that.

Money, probably, partly. It's hard to remember that in the golden age of magazines, thirties and forties with a bit of twenties and fifties on each end, it was possible to sell out to the extent of having a very cushy life by selling stuff to magazines.

Very competent words, words a little bit surprising but not too. Not basically surprising.

"Don't scare the horses." Part of a saying about what you can and can't do in public. You can do a lot if you don't scare the horses. Don't cause people to stop in the routine and think way below the routine.

In a free speech environment, you often can call for deeperness, but you usually can't do that and make big money right from the beginning. You may not make money in your lifetime. Sometimes, after you life the horses of routine desperately need to be awakened in just the way you offer, then there is big money.

"Speak low (when you speak of love)" looked kind of alternative to me as a book title, but of course it's a very standard way to present a song title, especially mid- and early twentieth century.

Kurt Weill, who wrote music, and Lotte Lenya, who sang, were on that edge between being able do work that lulled the horses along and being able to to work that woke people up more deeply. A powerful place to operate from.

They didn't have the perfect relationship, but they really helped each other a lot. He writes in the book about how when he wrote sometimes he heard every detail of her voice.

Their letters are not often mushy. They have lots of warmth and interest in what each other is doing, and fun cattiness.

"Speak low when you speak of love." Ogden Nash, from "One Touch of Venus," a musical

"There's a one l lama and that's a priest.
There's a two l llama and that's a beast.
But I will bet my silk pajama
There isn't any three l lllama."

--Ogden Nash

To be able to talk and sing to people and be open to being the unlabled priest who wakes up the innter holiness of people with laughs and beauty and reachable wisdome