"If I Could Hold
The Thought Of You"
'Poet, Help My Heart'
"If I Could Hold The Thought Of You" is a song that arose from writing
a pair of screenplays about the self-named Billy Bonney (later named
' "Billy the Kid' ") and Paulita Maxwell, daughter of the one-time largest
land-owner in the United States and its Territories, Lucien Bonaparte Maxwell (a fur-trapping friend of Kit Carson's). The screenplays are titled
'Billy and Paulita: The Lincoln County War" and "Billy and Paulita: The Long Road Home". Their actions span 1877 into 1881 in New Mexico Territory as that sprawl of frontier is the setting for constant conflict,
nobility, and treachery.
Billy and Paulita are each exceptional, driven to somehow stand out, whether as warrior or artist, and their coming together is something even more substantial. In the song "If I Could Hold ..." from June 1881, Billy, then 21 and escaped from hanging in the town of Lincoln, tries to express how
much Paulita, the child of theirs she carries, and their refuge in Fort Sumner mean to him. Billy has been an essential orphan in "this old Wild West" since age 14, when his mother, a laundry-owner fond of Sir Walter Scott, died of tuberculosis. He's braved every test decided by courage and resourcefulness. Paulita watched as her father's millions acres were lost to dealings of the Santa Fé Ring. You can see he wit and passion and inviolability in her eyes. I love these two and their struggles.
I love too the intensity and lyricism that Kidd and Morikeba give to this track.
Mohammad Iqbal is a giant of writing and statesmanship whose history I got to know through working with Ustad Salamat Ali Khan and his son, Ustad Shafqat, and Glenn Spearman and Dhyani Dharma to produce an album that they made as a group named Urna (the Urdu word for flight)
in 1995 at Sharkbite Studio in West Oakland, California. The album became
titled Journey To The Beloved. It remains unreleased.
Urna and the Journey were my springboards into Iqbal. Born in 1877 and deceased in 1938, Iqbal is complement to Bergson, Einstein and Yeats. His
Message from the East, circa 1922, answers Goethe's Divan for Hafiz, the 14th-century Sufi poet, a book that the German man of letters, concerned like Iqbal with many aspects of science and of being, published around 1822. We can learn a lot from relations between Iqbal, Goethe, and Hafiz.
Iqbal guides the former mujihadi, Ahmed, in my play "We Are Rainbows
Dancing before Mountains Explode". Ahmed's fire, intelligence, sincerity, sense of humor, and idealism owe to my impressions of Ustad Shafqat Ali
Khan, one who's become, I think, an artist comparable to his father.
'Poet, Help My Heart' is Ahmed's appeal to resolve the knots of love rubbing and roiling between him and DurgaKali.
"How many guys are playing on this one?" David Farrell asked as we listened to my mastering of this track last month. "One. Again," I said.
David is a five-time Grammy-winner for his engineering. He's worked on over 700 albums. His "salt of the earth" (John Snyder) is 180 degrees opposed to flattery. He said about Hamid on this track, however: "Keeping that many parts of a drum-set in the same tone is very difficult.... He's
like an orchestra!"