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That Shakespearean Rag
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The Story

I was volunteering down at the Extempe Coffee House in Minneapolis and this great, young piano player -- Spring (That's all I know of his name) -- was doodling some Major 7ths on the piano and I started on the intro for this little gem. I got him to switch to a Diddley groove for "To be or not to be" and there you have it. This links to the MP3 file.

Had to polish the intro a tad. Bass on this is Dik Hedlund, Keyboard is Jordan Hedlund. National Public Radio ran a bit of this on Talk of the Nation.

Right. Go figure.

Thoughts upon The Bard's Birthday

Here's a Muldoon commentary on Shakespeare that ran in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 24, 2007

“The time is out of joint -- O cursed spite! – that ever I was born to set it right.” That’s my screensaver.

OK. Unoriginal, overwrought, self-referential and self-indulgent. I mean, what’s NOT to like? The way I see it, any excuse to interject a bit of The Bard – one William Shakespeare, who’s birthday we commemorate this week -- into the daily discourse is, in fact, an obligation to elevate our vision, sharpen our syntax, and – dare I say it? – educate our peers.

Think upon it. What a wonderful world this would be if we salvaged just one little word `oft the stage of the Globe and, as a nation, forswore all use of the dreaded “going forward” in favor of an elegant “henceforth.”

What harmony might we engender among feuding factions if, instead of the cold, legalistic “Cease and desist” we bid the offenders end it “here, but here, upon this bank and shoal of time.”

How comforting might it be to upper management when, having frantically required all hands on deck all weekend to shore up a collapsing bank of servers, they are told that their fear “…is but a dagger of the mind, a false creation proceeding from the heat oppressed brain.”

But....there’s more! `Membrance of the Bard, who is nothing if not existential, can effect events less trivial than the salvation of corporate America. As we of a certain age sense, in ourselves and among those we hold dear, the wavering of life’s brief candle, he alone gives us the language and context to make meaning of it all and shape these Autumnal days to our liking.

Say I find myself languishing in a nursing home and a sweet but patronizing young thing asks “How are we doing today, Mr. Muldoon?” My gentle prey will be obligated to endure a dolorous incantation of “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace….” while I, with time on my hands, take it from the top and roll it out.

Were she to recoil at an innocently proffered hug, I can remonstrate, “Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible to feeling as to sight?”

The psychiatrist pressing me for pointless precision in memory or logic will be gently reminded that, in the end it matters not, since “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”

And THEN…the finale! One day, bewildered by senescence or stoked to the brim on pain pills, I will rampage out the door of the nursing home to find myself weaving among the semis on I-94.

In a snowstorm. It’s got to be a snowstorm!

As a mighty Peterbilt juggernaut bears down, the driver will hear my defiant challenge to the cosmos, "Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes...."

Said driver, veering slightly so that I am not completely shmooshed -- shmooshed would be John Webster, this is Shakespeare – surely will stop and scurry to my side. As life seeps slowly from my poor but devoted body, she will pull a tarp off the flatbed and – ye gods, let it be so! – be reminded of something she heard in English class long ago. (Though she’ll as likely have a PhD in Literature).

Oh, how clearly I see it! Snow swirling about, my eyes closing ever so slowly, she whispering ever so gently, “Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!”

`Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.