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The News: Monday​-​Friday

by Sara Bouchard

The sky was so bright that historic summer. In the fields, crickets splashed across the hallowed grasses. "Here I feel a feeling, Here I feel a feeling of peace." And then the weather watchers defy all predictions And take a sudden turn toward chilly winds. A wave of storms revealed on the horizon... Fresh in their faith, the residents prepared their escape. “It’s absolutely disgraceful” one shouted. “How are we to exist against the other shore? Here I feel a feeling Here I feel a feeling of peace.” But the village turned to a knot of construction far from shore; Platforms of clattering machines embraced the floating frontier. “We’re going to keep building. The facts are the facts.“ Back home, he would not waver Even as the ill-fated fields were pushed into deeper waters. He stayed rooted as currents creeped into once magical places. “It’s not a question of religion - It’s a question of faith. This is our tradition. Here I feel a feeling, Here I feel a feeling of peace.” “But listen to the captains reading headlines of household names. It’s life and death - no apologies figure in the eyes. It is our home that sits at the heart of this, But rough waves in diamonds - They do rise.”
“How long have we looked for you, my son, my son? All this time, and you’ve been suffering under the sun, under the sun. Show him to me, just show him to me for a little while.” In this unearthly landscape the scenery is wild enough to awaken the dead. It’s a new form of cathedral. A crumpled landscape, a blue plastic chair, Brittle bells - the sound buried in a slight shift of air. "The air is electric and full of ozone. Now my future is dark and unknown. Come tomorrow morning we’ll dig the hole that we’re in" With the remembering and forgetting fading out and in.
Come gather round, all you hungry and eager! I’ll narrate a life underground. There’s a myth I think in that spiritual link Between the lost and the found. In a small subterranean chapel Hiding in the belly of the earth, There’s a quiet man, he’s a guide to his men And he delivers good news. He is something of a mystery; He is not an angel or magician. He has become a precious thing For us on our path to perfection. He’s the wise man of the river Where he swims, fishes and sleeps. No thing impure to these waters - He’s the finest, strangest of his kind. Hold out your hand. There is a mark Of roads and landscapes - A passion of topography. A crowded boat, Washed ashore, Cast no shadow - No more sinking feeling. He is something of a mystery; He is not an angel or magician. He has become a precious thing For us on our path to perfection.
To an old-fashioned number on the radio I fell in love by lamplight with a man with no shadow. He worked upon the water and lived by the tide. He’d see all the time in those foggy hours catching air and combing the sky. And despite the widespread battles, the pirates are taking sides. It’s getting harder to feel like a stranger among the shape-shifting tribes. The powerful waves were coming, the newspaper said. You look up at the stars and just see just blankness, so please stay at home instead. He told me "Those people they don’t know who I am, so you just forget. I feel I’m not here and when you’re not there, there’s nothing to regret." And despite the widespread battles, the pirates are taking sides. It’s getting harder to feel like a stranger among the shape-shifting tribes. The sea was a quarrel of floating cars. He turned his boat around. The storminess hit him in a great gray mass - it was something of a ghost. I walked to the train and got out of there; one choice had I. And the feeling of holding the past in my hand as time goes stomping by... I’ll play a jack for wrinkled paper, a king for closing the door, A queen for your heart beating, an ace for ever more.
Most of us live in small spaces But how can you build a house? When no trains run on the fault lines Of the places that have most been my home. “You are asking for one simple thing now But we are unable to keep those fields.” You know enough to leave when they tell you to leave, But this land is still my hometown, This land is still my hometown. I’m going I’m going to the platform, Following in the well-worn tall tales. Rustling and breathing in the footsteps Of a land space where thunder and gods might tread. Time will run out for the unready, We seen this coming for years. We’ll pluck them from their gambler’s perch, Hungry but safe, Hungry but safe. By dawn the climate and atmosphere was froze And they saw where they were. "The cloud is still there, but we’re prepared to pray about it, everything is going to be O.K." She lifts a hand to reading histories - “I don’t know what these writings say.” The intensity of feeling in the teachings of Jesus Lulled into counting the days, Lulled into counting the days.
As he unreeled his tape measure across the landscape With a burning in his eye, “It cannot be eternal,” he said with a sigh. “Maybe we’ll get used to it soon but right now we are feeling it keenly.” It’s time to turn the page upon this ever-unfolding story. So tumble on down the far side of the mountains, Anchored to the air. I’d live in a mansion, I’d live in a shack Just to settle down somewhere, Just to settle down somewhere. “I lost everything that I once had, My house it was carried downstream. Hands full of mud, my hands full of worry, I won’t let them do this to me.” The journey had its peaks and valleys. We mapped our steps along the way. Neighborhoods will rise and fall As our memories shape and change. Construction began on the harvest holiday. Through the autumn fog and haze, A tower of wonder emerged from the sea And the residents stopped to gaze. “We are building in the sky, We are building in the sky.” All the residents prayed and sang and swayed. “We are building in the sky.”
“My friends and citizens, not so long ago Our future looked grim, shrouded in shadow. But at some level, you know, we’ve always believed 'round here. I’m pleased to present our ocean frontier.” The crowd was blown away. It was, first of all, immense: A floating city. Impossible not to be impressed. He pointed to the pumps and tubes and electronics, He described the technologies and the complex robotics. “A wondrous product of invention, A pulse of hope defying all convention.” When you’ve more or less permanently got the blues, You’ve learned to turn the channel on the television news. In spite all of their commercial fodder, It’s a big rock sticking out of the water. With the climate shifting in our face Can this deadwood move from place to place? It’s not merely strange; This is such a sea change: Adjusting to a new world at high tide. As we set out to enduring it, We’re not in charge of curing it. "Think of the giant cranes as Stretching back across large time spans." That’s the optimistic part. That too is a revelation. It’s encouraging, for sure, For a people with no lasting legacy. But “Everything’s O.K! Everything’s O.K!" "I need this song right now,” she said, Switching her hips, waving her fists And crowing.
"I travel all over all over the world, And the hypnotic lure of a train wreck Brings a new song to an old rhythm, Welcomes me with waiting arms." “What’s he talking about? Doesn’t he know the ship be sinkin’?” "I know what you’re thinking. Hell, no. We’re going to persevere. Every year there’s these extremes of weather And it seems like that’s the new normal. "I know, I know, my crops too were swallowed up By the storm. But look around, look around - There’s thousands of acres of farmland Upon the water so deep. "And we’ll have cucumbers and squash, tomatoes and greens, Potatoes and carrots, corn and soybeans, Eggplants and broccoli - A fantastic variety Of shapes and colors and tastes." The work was slow going, together with the stranger. “It’s ready when it’s ready. You can’t rush this.” Nobody’s ever really done this before: A greenhouse on a barge. "It is an amazing thing, It’s an amazing, amazing thing." It’s a funny thing - He came out of the blue, He navigated a canoe. A year ago it wasn’t even on our map.
Her walk seems not a succession of steps. It’s good to watch with an odd distance. She claims all attention, it’s all very distracting. Face as smooth as unbroken glass. Delightful to watch from my deathbed, Stiff and static in my thorny box. A circular pool of light on her, dressed in black, Casting a single shadow sideways. I had my work cut out for me: Greed and ambition and jealousy. Grand and ridiculous plans that upset the peace, But I offer no apologies. Gods and mortals cavorting as pirates; Imagining myself a Jesse James, I took the ransom and the long road back To the arms of my drop-dead beauty. Faded from the front page news, My crimes were overshadowed by the storms. What have we done to nature that could have increased her fury? No one should ever live like this. Perhaps this is the future after all.
My mother works at the rain garden from nine to five each day (She figures it’s a sure bet - there’s no shortage of rain.) While I go to school and tinker with tin cans and twine. One day I’ll be an engineer at the wind turbine. The water is rising and the wind is never still. And so we reap the wind and so we reap the rain And so we reap the methane produced in our floating landfill. Our responsibilities we pursue with pride, Sailing portable temples across the raging tide. Her still small voice is clearly heard with an archaic sound, Drifting upward, rising more and less, its rhythm deftly found. Mother, tell me a good story of grass-covered meadows And of my haunted father who I will never know. She waves a hand toward the photograph and her lips quiver at the name. I recognize my eyes in his - the shape of the curve was the same. He helped build the new infrastructure, but he was a wild-eyed dreamer. Word got out he was a wanderlust, and he was forced to disappear. At night the phosphorescence is kicked up by the wake. And the rhythm of the ocean mirrors the pattern of our tracks. I wonder, are these dreams some kind of premonition? As we venture into the future amidst the changing seasons. The water is rising and the wind is never still. And so we reap the wind and so we reap the rain And so we reap the methane produced in our floating landfill. And I am still haunted by the ones we left behind. We're sailing portable temples across the raging tide.


"The News: Monday-Friday" is at once a song cycle, an epic poem and a series of works on paper which grew out of a songwriting experiment.

Watch video of the performance at vimeo.com/album/1959054/.

View the installation at www.flickr.com/photos/sarabouchard/sets/72157629591495095/.

The two parts each consist of five songs that Sara wrote in five consecutive days. Each day, from Monday through Friday, Sara collaged lyrics from words and phrases cut out of that day’s newspaper and used her background in American roots music to interpret the
corresponding melody and instrumental accompaniment. Sara carried out this rigorous exercise during a week in 2010 to create Part 1 and again in 2011 for Part 2.

Through this process, a modern American folk tale emerged. A community, uprooted from their homeland by a natural disaster, is forced to migrate into the unknown and adapt to their new surroundings. A kaleidescope of characters parade by: a mysterious
religious leader, a haughty politician, a mourning mother, a stranger with bright ideas… It remains up to the listener/viewer to weave the
pieces together, but an underlying concern emerges: how can we maintain a permanent home when the waters keep rising?

Sara debuted "The News" on March 2, 2012 at Open Source Gallery in South Slope, Brooklyn with a performance of the songs on guitar, mandolin and autoharp and an exhibition of the mixed media works on paper.

The works on paper are transcriptions of the songs – a songbook drafted from household materials. Collages of the lyrics are presented alongside Sara’s alternative system of musical notation, reminiscent of weather graphs and player piano punch cards, which she devised to emphasize visual patterns in the melodic line.

"The News: Monday-Friday" was conceived during Sara's time as an artist-in-residence at chaNorth in Pine Plains, NY, in 2010 and 2011.


released March 2, 2012


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Sara Bouchard Richmond, Virginia

I am a multi-disciplinary artist and songwriter with a strong foothold in American roots. As an artist, I investigate ways to interact with and represent the American landscape through song. As a musician, I perform original and traditional tunes - drawn from bluegrass, old-time, jazz, country and blues - with my band SALT PARADE. ... more

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