February – The Chariot

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Early in the month I had a conversation with a classical pianist about performance anxieties.  Getting on stage, especially in the world of classical music, can be very stressful.  Your audience comes with all kinds of expectations about what they will hear – comparing you to the collections of cherished recordings they have at home.  With their opinions formed years ago, will they be open to your interpretation?

The conversation reminded me of a line from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock“, a poem by T. S. Eliot.  In it, Prufrock asks, in the midst of his angst and insecurities, “Do I dare disturb the universe?”


Who said the ukulele was uncultured? The ukulele enjoys a spot of tea with a side of poetry.

I love that line.  To me it conveys a sense that the littlest thing can cause ripples that change the very core of existence.  In the context of the poem, Prufrock is freaking out. He thinks he will ruin everything and make a fool of himself, but the optimist in me sees another side to it. If we can make things worse, then we can also make things better.  To me, it says that the smallest amount of beauty that we bring into this world can change things for the better.  In that way, all of us can, and should, dare to disturb the universe. (“Oh, dear,” says Mr. Eliot, as he rolls over in his grave, “I never intended this poem to be used in a pep rally.”)

The ukulele doesn't mind the occasional chariot ride

The ukulele doesn’t mind the occasional chariot ride

From time to time, people ask me what my song titles mean, and this one, The Chariot, is a little cryptic.  It comes from the last line in the main chorus, “Coming for to carry me home”.  That line was borrowed from an old spiritual called, “Swing low, sweet chariot“, which described a chariot delivering the singer from hardship to heaven.

For those who want to try this song at home, here’s the chart!

And if you’re not already getting email updates about my songs each month, join the fun!

Postcards From Home update!  Tune into WUNC this coming Friday, March 7th. I’ll be on Morning Edition  with Eric Hodge.  The album’s official release is Tuesday, March 11th, however, right now you can pre-order it on iTunes, or order a limited edition CD (there are still a few left, but they’ll go quickly in the next few weeks).

6 thoughts on “February – The Chariot

  1. There’s a line in Going Back to Cali that I’m telling myself refers to that same TS Eliot poem. I think the line in Going Back to Cali is, “She showed me a beach, gave me a peach.” From Eliot, it’s “Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare eat a peach?” I love that poem. Thanks for prompting me to dig out my Eliot anthology.

  2. Josh says:

    It’s true. Me and L.L. have very similar inspirations.

  3. John Gillespie says:

    Reading Prufrock is one of many fine memories I have of Marjorie Lancaster’s class at CHHS. Thanks for reminding me, Josh! As much as I love the poem, my favorite line is when the girl asks if you are deaf. A perfect moment of awkwardness.

    1. Josh says:

      Thanks so much!

  4. Fletcher McNeill says:

    Another great tune Josh.
    I am LOVING your CD!!! It is great to hear all the songs in one sitting. Congratulations on putting it out. Huge respect for you!! Looking forward to this years tunes on CD. (No pressure)

    1. Josh says:

      Thanks so much! Volume 2 is coming along, so far so good!

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