Stephen Berer
the Eternal Jew's biographer

The Eternal Jew’s Tale, #130, Concert, 1

Rockin’ and rollin’ down on the pier, image colorized and modified by the author, obtained from Eine Orientreise vom Jahre 1881, pdf in the public domain.
Rockin’ and rollin’ down on the pier, image colorized and modified by the author, obtained from Eine Orientreise vom Jahre 1881, pdf in the public domain.
In this episode… anyone up for a nice quiet evening of music?

The Eternal Jew’s Tale
Eighteenth Era, Part 4, ~1425 C.E., Genoa

Tense at work. Tense at home. Our feelings covert, our words restrained. But as if our souls been clashin’ the same, our higher angels fightin’ it out, while our animal bodies been gagged and bound. In many layers our souls be alive, while our minds are trapped in our senses five.
In the passing days, squabble and squal.
Now that sandfly, Gabriel, he bursts into our gloomy mood all excited, chirp and whoop.
“Father, uncle, such good news! A troop of Mallorcan musicians have arrived and are playing down on the quay tonight. Can we go? Oh, can we go?”
I would have laid him a clop on the chops, but his doting father sighs and shrugs. And now old Uncle Daniyel, who can’t say ‘no’ to the little whelp, with a wide grin indulges him,
“Indeed! Look at the three of us, stuck inside our cranky gloom. We need something to lift us up. Gabby, run back down the hill and tell your mum and aunt the news. And get the word to Batkol, too. We’ll bring our dinner down to the pier, kabobs and pita, some pickles too, and enjoy the last of this autumn’s warmth, and let the music raise our spirits.”
Said and done! The lad rushes off.
Seems all Genoa has heard that master musicians have come to town. Like lines of ants feedin’ on sweets, the streets been full of marchin’ folk. Once we reach the teemin’ piers we hear that no one’s satisfied to only hear this Mallorcan troop. There’s Genovese and Napolese, some Frenchmen out of Avignon, Muslims and Berbers from the torrid Maghreb, some wild Greeks, some Teuton Knights, and even a Jewish wedding troop! And a pack of local urchins swarm, workin’ the crowd for jingle of coin, hawkin’ old biscuits and bruised fruit, while whoopin’ it up and shoutin’ the news,
“Battlin’ bands! Don’t miss the fray! Come hear the Genovese blow ‘em away!”
Them little urchins were tellin’ it true. Like Israelites facin’ the Phillashti, and here come Goliath beatin’ his drum, and all his band be playin’ their heat, and out come Davy whirlin’ his oud, to knock Goliath off his feet. And each of their army of followers screamin’ their heads off and shaking’ their fists to inspire their warriors to drop-dead riffs.
The night wore on and there’s three bands left, provin’ their mettle as better or best. Mallorcans, Berbers, and that wedding troop — a face-off of Christian, Muslim, and Jew — and the crowd in a frenzy of hashish and wine, lookin’ for proof of the most divine.
I must confess, the music has taken hold of my body, makin’ me twist and shout, and fillin’ me up with heavenly joys. And there be Juan and Daniyel, sagged on a bench and eyes a-droop, and me, I’m swayin’ in the music’s tides.
“Come on Saadia, let’s get up close to the stage to watch them play their licks.”
So we jostle and push our way up front, right up to the band all drenched in sweat, them Jewish wedding players first in line, tunin’ their instruments into firebrands.
Then out flames fire from their redhot rods in phrases unbridled, inspired, and wild, the likes of which may not have been played till Robby Johnson and Hendrix come down. Them licks now lost in the fickle winds, but I scratched out their lyrics, to my best recall:
The conqueror, love, is come down!
To the garden of Eden is come down!
Love is the totality, highest, sure;
To the garden of reeds is come down,
Love is the Totality, sure,
Oh yes, sure; surely
Breakin’ the rocks of this shore,
Breakin’ me and my rocky heart
Down here, so low,
Here, so broken and low,
Love is the Totality, sure,
Love has come to me, so sure,
Don’t leave me now.
My whole being, yuh-ee-yuh
Is bound in You, so sure.
I can’t get enough of your face.
I can’t get enough of your ways.
I can’t get enough of your grace.
I’m dissolvin’ into your face.
I’m dissolvin’ into your grace.
I’m dissolvin’ without a trace.
Then you left me,
Gone and left me.
Now all I do is wait,
Misery at your gate,
Waitin’ and you’re so late.
Such misery; I don’t know
Which way to go,
My heart wracked, my knees slack,
O, conqueror Love, come back!
His voice fades in a lonely howl, and virtuoso solos end their song. The roar of the crowd, no doubt, can be heard on the far shores of the Middle Sea.
“Isn’t a band, living or dead who could match that playing!”
Gabby declares.
In the next episode the battle continues.
About the Author
I am a writer, educator, artist, and artisan. My poetry is devoted to composing long narrative poems that explore the clash between the real and the ideal, in the lives of historical figures and people I have known. Some of the titles of my books are: The Song uv Elmallahz Kumming A Pilgimmage tu Jerusalem The Pardaes Dokkumen The Atternen Juez Talen You can listen to podcasts of my Eternal Jew posts on my personal blog, Textures and Shadows, which can be found on my website, or directly, at: I live just outside Washington, DC with my bashert, and we have two remarkable sons. Those three light my life.
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