Monday, April 21, 2008

When Art Collides

When I first read Dubliners, I was not immediately comfortable with the prose of James Joyce. I was intimidated by a literary name and not entirely open to the idea of connecting with any of his characters. At the time I had an English teacher who worshiped the ground Joyce walked on; I was afraid of liking Joyce at the mere suggestion of his brilliance.

Then, like it happens from time to time in literature, the connection between me and a well-written character became undeniable. The short-story, Eveline, contained in Joyce's Dubliners, is about responsibility and choices. She is offered the choice to leave the responsibilities she feels are rightly hers, however heavy and guilt-ridden. She is offered an escape at sea. James Joyce wrote a beautiful story of Eveline's struggle with this decision, a struggle that mirrors many decisions we make in our own lives. Eveline reaches the reader in a way James Joyce isn't able to reach the reader in his traditional novels.

This afternoon I was at work listening to an online country radio station when a twangy, Nickel Creek single came on that I hadn't heard before. From their 2005 release Why Should the Fire Die? comes "Eveline," a single based on Joyce's character:
eveline grips the railing,
as her lover calls her to the sea,
won't you sail with me,
she can't hear,
being just a step away from,
happiness and sanity blurs,
and drives her crazier,
eveline take care of your father,
i cared for you,
words her dying mother spoke,
kill her too,
eveline stays
It is amazing to me when different forms of media collide. Whether they be a piece of artwork that inspires a novel or a novella that inspires modern song, it is refreshing to find modern-day artists who can appreciate the writing and art that has come before them. Nickel Creek, a self-proclaimed "progressive acoustic" trio that more accurately could be categorized as bluegrass, is a surprising group of three twenty-something musicians who understand this unique collision of art. The song itself is a little too pitchy and twangy for my taste, but that is another story. Kudos to Nickel Creek for "getting it."

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