Mick Kinney: A Song in His Heart and a Pencil in His Hand, Part 3

Parts 1 and 2 introduced musical omnivore Mick Kinney as a songwriter, but this final post will look briefly at the poetry of his songs.

Mick credits the Gershwins, Hoagy Carmichael, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and clever wordsmiths like Kinky Friedman and Mose Allison as his musical mentors. Clever wordsmiths? That brings us back to the initial question of mixing of recognized poets, like Homer and the Beowulf scop, with recognized songwriters like Dylan and Lennon. So how is poetry different from song, or is it?

Mick says, “Poets would certainly agree that poems are apart from song, but I say poetry is a part of song. A poem as a work of art stands on its own, whereas lines of some great songs may really need the melody or delivery of singing.” Mick works with the poet’s tools: puns, encryption, allusion, alliteration, onomatopoeia, slant rime, end and internal rime, meter, imagery, metaphor, and even clichés—which he turns on their head.

Mick & Elise

Mick and Elise in concert

Take, for example, Mick’s song “You’ve Got Me,” from Secret Songbook. The title alludes to the last words a cowboy utters after being shot. It’s a farcical reference to Eros the Arrowslinger out hunting for victims. The premise of the song is simple—two people head over heels. You know how those first days, weeks, months are—crazy love. It’s a wonder more people aren’t run over by buses as they cross the street in a complete daze. But let Mick remind you what it’s like:

You got me out of my shell

You got me under your spell

You got me plucking petals and wishing in wells. You got me.

You got me skipping up the stair well

You got me over a barrel

Like a fish out of water I’m swimming on air. You got me.

I woulda thought it’d be (oughta be) hind me

Til you hook, sinker and lined me

Now you know where you can find me

Just reel me in or unwind me

Imagine this duet sung by Mick and Elise, sometimes alternating stanzas or lines, sometimes together. Listen with your mind’s ear to the tinkle of piano keys and the sweet swing of a clarinet. Then, put on your mortar board and scan the lines for the poetic devices that mingle image and sound to add meaning and beauty.

You got me skippin’ meals

Puttin’ salt in my coffee, now I know how it feels

To be jumpin’ for joy and clickin’ my heels. You got me   (Tap Break)…

When Eros is slingin’ his arrows

Hoped that his arrows would spare us

But how could Eros make errors?

How could his aim be so careless?

You got me like Mnemosene and Zeus

You got me in between in the mezzanine my muse

Once a pun a timin’ and rhymin’ like Seuss. You got me.

How many different ways does Mick compare falling in love? And if you’re still not convinced of the poetry in song, remember that the sonnet, celebrated as the poetic vehicle for expressing love, takes its name from the Italian sonnetto or “little song.”

You got me uttering utterly unquotable syllables

Like hullabaloo, fulla baloney, vulnerable and gullible

Subtly dawdling and readily cuddling

And all of a suddenly rodeo yodeling (Yodel)…

You got me up all night like a possum

You got me out chasin’ moon blossoms

Like Holmes got Watson, like fletsam got jotsam. You got me.

You bet some, you lose some

You get some, you got some

Forget some, forgot some. You got me.

Unfortunately, I could include only half the song, and even if I had copied it all, you would have read only the poetry, not heard Mick’s clear tenor or Elise’s lyrical soprano, separate and together, a conversation of love in song.

Mick at Alabama Folk School

Mick at Alabama Folk School

If you want to hear Mick performing his songs, go to http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/mickkinney . If you’d like to hear Mick the Fiddler lay some rosin down with his bow, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qFsSYjj5iU  and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9M82kVkb1o

Want to learn to play fiddle, banjo, or guitar in any of the styles mentioned here? Commission a song or score? Purchase a cd? Email Mick at mickkinney251@yahoo.com.

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