Five Tracks: Making Some Noise (Michigan Playlist Poems)

Track One: Aretha Franklin

I remember watching you, Aretha, in that LA church, with your father, the preacher, standing near you at the pew - the way your fingers touched the keys, the way your voice touched the sky, the way your face emptied itself of audience as you lost yourself to song as you closed your eyes: you were as near to soul music in that time-capsule moment as a gospel lullaby

Track Two: The White Stripes

Keep it simple, Jack, press a wiry voice against that guitar of yours, knotted up in ninth chords, ‘cause Meg’s got your back: she’s a stick-wielding machine pounding through the floor with a hard-sound stripped-down rock-and-roll attack

Track Three: Stevie Wonder

What kind of child commands the moment with a presence like that?

Stevie’s all vision and groove, a high clear voice cutting a move inside stage lights, singing it: uptight, all night

All right – pull back the curtains: this young man’s out to prove what he can do

And the person he will be will write songs as if he’s cutting through wires: a creative bid to set himself free

Track Four: Parliament Funkadelic

Not a single sampled song in pop can’t trace its roots right back to the energetic funk of bassman spaceman Bootsy Collins

The origin story of hip hop has many tangled roads, from urban street corner raves to loudspeaker shows, but nothing comes closer than the bottom-bouncing riffs Bootsy wrote

and if you’re not dancing when he’s thumping and popping to find a line, then you’re not paying attention to the invitation to enter the Mother Ship party time

Track Five: Greta Van Fleet

What’s not derivative, anyway, in the age of rock-and-roll, so when you’re playing your songs with a passion – f— ‘em all – those magazine critics and Internet loudmouths with their words turning negative, calling you out of fashion – What do they know? Turn it up – louder, harder, faster - ‘til we’re all on the verge of out of control

NOTE: All prompts and sharing come via Chippewa Writing Project, Michigan, for Write Across America Summer 2022