A Babe in Nature’s Cradle

Posted: March 20, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Lawrence Waldron, “A Babe in Nature’s Cradle,” acrylic on paper, 2014

…They love it so

They want to know

If I am a hermit

From a musical planet.

They call me a weirdy

And a cosmic baby

But all I know of me

Is I am me.

(Chorus)

And my vibes are heavy

Very very heavy.

If you think I’m super,

Praise Mother Nature.

…I know they would like to ask me later

Why I say give praise to Mother Nature.

The answer for this is very simple:

I am like a babe in nature’s cradle.

(From “My Vibes are Heavy” on the album De Zess Man, 1978)

Like a spectre at the crossroads of Calypso and Soca, straddling the astral plane and the concrete ghetto; stemming high woods esotericism and spaced-out sci-fi futurism; uniting the ageless cosmic and the precarious body politic; issuing from a place betwixt the peals of the Shouter’s bell, the rustle of the sadhu’s wrinkled beads and the sparks of the shaman’s shak shak, Shadow is a singular figure in the music, philosophy and culture of Trinidad & Tobago. He is at once musician and mystic, and on the rarest occasions ostensible experts have deigned to dub him a Monarch of Calypso—once in the Savannah and twice on the Road.

But the temporary stage at the Queens Park Savannah and the narrow, crowded Road March to it are but chambers in Shadow’s “house of music.”

His corpus of works embodies the Calypso tradition’s timeless wit cross-fertilised with space-aged studio innovations, and always laced through with a dark but glimmering thread of otherworldly inspiration.

Shadow is the Cosmic Baby, the philosopher from Nature. Though he has been, at times, a youthful, bristly apostle of “dreadness” or, at other times, a sage and hopeful prophet, he has always been a bottomless fount of keen, profound, vital questions. He is a searcher, an asker, a considerer of life’s abiding questions and therein lies his wisdom.

Such wisdom might cause the slavish devotee in us to arrange ourselves at his feet and wait for instructions. But Shadow is not our chief, not our cacique. He is the shaman at the crossroads on the edge of town. He is the trickster that frightens the chief but plays with the children. He is not our messiah. He is the dreadlocked herald that baptizes us into our own ministry and sends us out into our own wilderness. He is not our princely avatar. Instead he is a companion on our search who leaves the last leg of our quest to us. We must face our own demons.

So Leh We Quest On!

And if we find something that looks like an answer should we turn it into tradition and beat it into our children? Mightn’t the children have ‘dey own ting’—a whole different set of questions?

[This is the inaugural post of the blog, “Shadowlingo”…stay tuned]

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