Saturday, September 20, 2008

Moon of My Harvest

As his obituary in the Grand Rapids Press read, "The lights dimmed and the curtain came down on William Beidler life, last Tuesday." I first saw Bill perform in the Civic Theatre's production of "Jaques Brel is Alive and Well..." back in the mid-70's, and was completely taken by his performance---a rich tenor voice, broad actions on stage, and above all, his presence. Bill MOVED and was MOVING. As a composer only a couple years out of school, I thought, "If only he would sing some of my music!" Some 12 years later, I was introduced to Bill at Gibson's Restaurant, which we both frequented for lunch. For the next few years, we ended up next to each other at the bar for lunch at least three or four times a month. Already Parkinson's was beginning to attack his body, but he remained a gentle and generous man, albeit an increasingly frustrated one.

He was interested in my progress as a musician, and my 20 year old wish came true when he recorded my song, "Winter Moon" as part of his Christmas Collection.In 1996, I wrote a song for him, which he sang at a concert I gave at Aquinas College the following year. I think he knew it was not only FOR him, but also ABOUT him, him and myself, and all other performers born with an innate sense that "it's a long walk home." It is preceded by Actress Kathy Boylon reciting a poem of mine from "The Revenue of Dreams." Here is that recording:

 “Moon of My Harvest”

This moon of my harvest,
The lengthening shadow
Across the furrowed land,
This time is mine alone.

A childhood of springlight
Has shadowed me always,
The sound of summer's songs
Never far away.

Through all the phases of the moon,
And seasons of the earth,
In lover’s arms, or not,
These songs were mine alone.

And all who listened to my songs,
They heard, but did not know,
My songs were quests for love,
As I was far from home.

Desperation is as good for the soul
As love is fatal to the heart.
Madness lends a certain dignity
To the restless flame within.

Lost though I’ve sometimes been in the hymns of summer,
The midnight-ocean-blue-sky parts,
And a new moon appears before me, a new moon appears before me.
I hear a familiar song:

This moon sings of my harvest,
The lengthening shadows
Across my furrowed brow:
This time is mine alone.

I must be going now, this moon to light my way.
The days are growing short,
And it’s a long walk home.

Bill Beidler, Tenor

Thom P. Miller, 1996

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