In Dialogue on Paradox / by Melanie Ida Chopko

An original tune dedicated to the great John McGann. Filmed by Adrianna Ciccone in Brighton, MA. John Mailander - Fiddle Molly Tuttle - Guitar Brittany Karlson - Bass Joe Walsh - Mandolin www.johnmailander.com

I think alot about how to be in dialogue with the artists I most respect, writing lyrics and melody to the same level of nuance and contribution. At first this meant I was mostly writing on top of other people's melodies, a bit too sacred to experiment with my own voice. But now it's more like I'm standing on the layered bedrock of all of my heroes, adding myself to the landscape.

A few months ago in Brasil, my poet friend Osmar Coelho Filho wrote a poem in response to a conversation we had on one of the many stripes of cultural difference between our two countries: acceptance and intention and action (1). I've been writing in response it on and off for the past several months. And when my other friend, composer and fiddler John Mailander invited me to co-write a song, I was completely honored and excited, know we could write something in the vein of this nuance, this question of paradox. I wanted to write something in the feeling of his beautiful tune written in memoriam for John McGann, "Song for John." (2, above and below)

Here's the draft of what I'm sending over to John today (in all its slightly clunky seedling form), the start of me writing on the big paradox of being a human being. Eventually I'm imagining this will be a lyrical song, in dialogue with Osmar's thoughts in both English and Portuguese. 

I want to write about the idea filmmaker Silvio Canihuante Fernández and I kicked around a few months ago, the idea of the "two different jackets" we wear as humans, one of acceptance/intention and one of action. My godfather Dennis Rivers shared a fascinating quote last week from physicist Neils Bohr that seems relevant here: "The opposite of a trivial truth is plainly false. But the opposite of a great truth is also true."

Kinda a big undertaking, across 3 people, 3 continents, 2 languages, the idea of what it means to be human.. But sometimes I think only music is big enough for that. I'm up to try.

(1) Osmar Coelho Filho Poem: On Decisions and Intentions
(2) JohnMailander.com,  and listeining here