The Ballad of Pearly Sue

It was just four notes that did it; my mind skipped a track from Shenandoah to The Ballad of Pearly Sue!

Four notes:  a variation on the theme of Shenandoah and a repeated motif in Pearly Sue!

Though I’ve been practicing the transcription of Keith Jarrett’s Shenandoah performance for months, this four-note passage took me on a crazy incongruous path this morning. Shenandoah is a wistful and mournful piece, which I play while visualizing the cobbled streets of Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, and the agony that the Civil War brought there.  Pearly Sue, though, is an upbeat and  joyful expression of life and the self-determination of strong women everywhere. Those four notes triggered a neuron or two and suddenly I was singing a somewhat obscure song of joy, that I hadn’t heard in ten years!

Susannah McCorkle wrote and performed The Ballad of Pearly Sue in 1989:  six years after Sally Ride blasted off in a rocket ship.   It is an exuberant performance and a  marvelous telling of the empowerment of women.   It speaks of the strong women in my life and the hope that each of us may chart our own path.    It makes me smile, laugh and cry.

What about you?

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