The Song Journal

Miscellaneous news and writing by Bob Franke, mostly about songs as a portable art form, and the process of creating them and enabling them to do their work in the world.

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Location: Peabody, Massachusetts, United States

from Bob Franke began his career as a singer-songwriter in 1965 while a student at the University of Michigan. Upon graduation in 1969 with an A.B. in English Literature, he moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has since made New England his home. Bob has appeared in concert at coffeehouses, colleges, festivals, bars, streets, homes and churches in 33 states, four Canadian provinces and England.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Things done and left undone

I recently received a new CD from an old friend and former student, Oakland, CA-based Patrice Haan, and I played it this morning, all by itself. I expected to be delighted, but I didn't expect to weep. Patrice is a fabulous harper and a songwriter who puts her heart on the line and tells the truth. "The Year I Turned 14", which Patrice composed in my class in 1996, is every bit as heartbreaking as I remembered it. Perhaps it's presumptuous to say this about a mature artist who would have gotten that way without my help, but I'm very proud of her.

I usually don't say too much about the accomplishments of my former students except when I have the sense that (to paraphrase the Bible), if I didn't say anything, the stones would cry out. Part of this is self-protection. I'm afraid that I get more CDs in the mail than I will wind up listening to, although I have enough guilt about this that every six months or so I will put five at a time on the CD carousel and see if anything leaps out at me. Don't get me wrong: every voice is unique, and I cherish every student I've ever had. Each has had something important to say, and some have said it very, very well. But it's a rare student who gets past my analytical faculties and grabs me by the heart with his or her work. Patrice is one. John Schindler is another, but I've already praised John's work in a number of web venues. Ditto Wanda Lu Paxton . I've talked a lot to friends about my favorite unreleased CD by Lynne Saner (and I wish I could link to a site of hers). I wish I had said something in a timely fashion about Heather Klinger's first CD; she's an amazing songwriter.

The intelligence and courage that most of my students bring to their work give me a standard to live up to; I'm looking forward with great pleasure to the fact that 7 of the 11 students who have signed up for the May classes are folks with whom I've worked before. I'm also grateful for the patience of those folks who have sent me their CDs: I'm only human, as you've already discovered.


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