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Where Words Fails

via Where Words Fail

Thank you to Misifusa for this wonderful post.

I have not posted for some time. This seemed like a good way to begin again, afresh. When I was growing up, we listened to a wide variety of music, including Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald. I thought it was the norm and grew into a die-hard blues fan, attending concerts by Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, and King Biscuit when they traveled to Canada.

As an adult, I saw BB King, John Mayall, Etta James, Ruthie Foster, Taj Mahal, The Blind Boys of Alabama, and others. An American friend told me this was not the norm in the US. He did not have the same opportunities to see these performers as I did or, if he did, it was long after they were in their primes.

The Hans Christian Anderson quote fits well “where words fail, music speaks”. Music breaks down barriers without realizing they are coming down. As a Canadian, I had freedoms I took-for-granted, like the music I listened to and the concerts I attended. When I taught, I played a wide variety of music each morning. It ranged from the blues to jazz to country to folk to old rock and to more contemporary music. Students enjoyed it and it surprised them when they heard me play old Johnny Cash, the blues, and rock-a-billy.

Music is colour-blind or, better yet, music is blind to colour.

I like this particular John Lee Hooker song, which I first heard in the early 1970’s. George Thorogood plays it in most of his concerts in tribute to John Lee. Enjoy.



About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

39 responses »

  1. You’ve been missed. Glad you’re back…and with the power of music! Great post, Ivon.

  2. George Bachul

    Ivon, going to your site regularly and hoping to see a new post is akin to the old days of going to the mailbox hoping for that letter. Today it arrived and I grinned.

    I agree that music can heal, speak, and elicit emotional responses that words in some ways cannot do.

    That said, it is nice to see your words again.

  3. Glad you’re back and I’m with you. Love jazz and the blues. Oh, yeah. I’m going to dance to your video…so bye.

  4. Glad you are posting again. This post really ‘hits home’. I am a huge blues fan too and Jonny Lee Hooker is one of my favorites. I am looking forward to listening to Keb’ Mo’ in June when he visits our little town again.

  5. Jazz has always been a favorite, but was recently asked to promote the 85th Anniversary of the Wheeling Jamboree, the second oldest country music show in the country next to the Grand Olde Opry. That story is now on my blog. Over the years my life has been filled with many different kinds of music.

  6. Thank you for sharing Yvonne’s post and getting your feet wet again Ivon. 💛

  7. Lovely to see a ‘fresh’ post, Ivon; and music really hits me fair and square in the heart.
    I grew up with your favourites, too; but, was only introduced to John Lee Hooker by another WordPress blogger a few years back. Quite an incredible muso!

    • It is good to be back Carolyn. I think YouTube and other platforms have allowed the older performs like John Lee, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, etc. to flourish. The traveled so much and did not always record.
      It is more challenging to find recordings of female blues singers. I listen to a small public radio station that plays Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Etta James, Bessie Smith and others. They recorded even less.

      • My, my! I just listened to Sister Rosetta Tharpe (new to me) singing ‘That’s All’. Quite mesmerising and incredibly charismatic! The lyrics, of those days, also seem to be more powerful, soul reaching, then many of the modern day. Though, to be fair, I don’t listen to the mainstream all that often. Like you I listen to a community broadcast radio station that is quite eclectic in its musical range. We are so fortunate!

      • Carolyn, I don’t listen to mainstream. When I am on the road, I can get CKUA on-line. Mainstream is so boring. The country music I listen to is old i.e. Johnny Cash or alt-country i.e. early Steve Earle and Hayes Carll and they never play the blues and jazz on mainstream. The excitement is on the margins.

      • The excitement is on the margins. – True!

  8. I think it depends on where in the U.S. Chicago has a thriving blues scene. Years ago I got to see lots of greats — both locals and national acts who came through. Luther Allison ad Siegel-Schwall were two faves. Many of the ones I knew have died but I gather there’s a whole new scene. Fun to know it’s so popular in Canada!

    • The fellow I knew was from Chicago, but he said the 60’s were a bit different. The blues in Canada is different. African-American performers found their way here and influenced a whole generation. As well, we had Long John Baldry who played with John Mayall. Baldry lived for years in Vancouver.

  9. Discovered blues and jazz when I was a student in America, and they have been a comfort and inspiration to me ever since.

  10. Good to see you in my inbox. Great tune to start this day. You’re right about music.

  11. Ivon, thanks for sharing my post! I love your music choices too. Glad to see you are writing again!

  12. So glad to see you back. As a Canadian I had the freedom to listen to great blues and jazz. At UBC in the early seventies we had some great concerts. Did you listen to CBC Q this morning with John Carter Cash and Jewel with the new album dropping tomorrow with the new found archive writings of Johnny Cash? Looks cool.

    • I did not hear the show with John Carter Cash and Jewel, but read about the CD in the New York Times. It sounds interesting.

      I surprised some students who liked Johnny Cash. They asked if I did and I would ask which era: rock-a-billy, 60’s, gospel, American Legend, etc.

      I lived in Prince George for about 10 years. We go the A list Canadian bands i.e. Guess Who and upcoming American bands i.e. Heart. I think growing up in Canada broadened my musical interests.

  13. Since I worked 11 years in radio in Maine, and since the station I worked for was started by Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary, I had the privilege to see up close and personal some of the musicians you mentioned in small-ish venues with an appreciative audience. I’m sure the musicians enjoyed the performances as much as we did!

    • I think they do. Kathy and I attend concerts at a small folk club. The artists seem appreciative of the interaction and intimacy. When we saw John Mayall it was in a small venue and we were right in front of the stage. As we were going through the lobby, the guitarist told he saw us grooving right below where he played.

  14. Good to see you again. I am sure we have a lot of similar interests. I am interested in investigating whether poetry can be used as a vehicle for teaching academic English, and for social justice. I am doing my PhD; genre meshing is one of my research interests. Thanks for the contact.

    • Those sound like interesting topics to investigate. I taught poetry in my junior high classes so students would learn to choose words wisely. They enjoyed when I wrote poetry on the board in a kind of stream-of-consciosness way.

  15. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:


  16. Yes, music – like mathematics – is a universal language. And, of course, they are related!

  17. They are. I used to tell students who were good at music and art that they are related to Math. So often, we forget or overlook the connections.


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