Art and Memory

This morning, my partner came home from visiting his mom’s house in New Jersey and brought a pile of records with him to play on our new record player. Among them was The Hunter by Jack Hardy. Jack Hardy was a singer-songwriter who lived here in New York and passed away in March ’11. Over the last year, I have gotten to know his memory through two things. One is the Jack Hardy Songwriters’ Exchange, a weekly meetup and critique circle of local songwriters for which my partner and I help cook (there’s a pasta dinner along with the songwriting critique circle). The other is a camp and music stage that Jack ran every year at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival which has continued on after his death. It is so wonderful and speaking of the character of this man I never met that now, two years after he passed away, his friends continue these traditions that he started many years ago.

But when my partner brought home this record, it reminded me how art makes people live again. I put the needle to this record, and there is Jack Hardy’s voice, a voice that has been stilled by death, coming forth as if he is in the room. There is his guitar playing, his mind that created these wonderful, beautiful songs. There are his words.

It’s hard to know in February

The year is on the mend

Light a candle in the morning

Light it for a friend

Keep it burning through the night

On nights without the moon

Come back baby

Come back soon.

We all must face the same fate eventually, and there is really no escaping that we all just have a short time in the world before our inevitable exit from it. But there are things you can do, things you can create, that can bring you back into the world any time someone thinks to have you in it again. Things like that record by Jack Hardy, or a handwritten letter to a friend that makes them hear your voice whenever they read it.

Ultimately, working every day at your art multiplies the days that you can live.


About thebaffledkingcomposing

Pamela DiFrancesco is a writer with a community college degree in journalism, a fancy art school degree in fiction and a penchant for community organizing. A native of Pennsylvania coal country, Pamela lives in Astoria, Queens, writes, and does whatever else it takes to pay the bills. In the past, Pamela has worked for newspapers and taught children journalism in an after-school program. Pamela's fiction can be found on the web at Cezanne's Carrot and Monkeybicycle, in print in The Carolina Quarterly (who nominated "The Chuck Berry Tape Massacre" for the Best American Mystery Writing anthology) and forthcoming in The New Ohio Review. When not writing, Pamela practices acts of love and kindness in hopes of a radically different world, and is preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse through acts of badassery.
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