Now I will do nothing but listen,
To accrue what I hear into this song, to let sounds contribute toward it.
I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat, gossip of flames, clack of sticks cooking my meals,
I hear the sound I love, the sound of the human voice,
I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused or following,
Sounds of the city and sounds out of the city, sounds of the day and night,
Talkative young ones to those that like them, the loud laugh of work-people at their meals,
The angry base of disjointed friendship, the faint tones of the sick,
The judge with hands tight to the desk, his pallid lips pronouncing a death-sentence,
The heave'e'yo of stevedores unlading ships by the wharves, the refrain of the anchor-lifters,
The ring of alarm-bells, the cry of fire, the whirr of swift-streaking engines and hose-carts with premonitory tinkles and color'd lights,
The steam-whistle, the solid roll of the train of approaching cars,
The slow march play'd at the head of the association marching two and two,
(They go to guard some corpse, the flag-tops are draped with black muslin.)
I hear the violoncello, ('tis the young man's heart's complaint,)
I hear the key'd cornet, it glides quickly in through my ears,
It shakes mad-sweet pangs through my belly and breast.
I hear the chorus, it is a grand opera,
Ah this indeed is music—this suits me.
A tenor large and fresh as the creation fills me,
The orbic flex of his mouth is pouring and filling me full.
I hear the train'd soprano (what work with hers is this?)
The orchestra whirls me wider than Uranus flies,
It wrenches such ardors from me I did not know I possess'd them,
It sails me, I dab with bare feet, they are lick'd by the indolent waves,
I am cut by bitter and angry hail, I lose my breath,
Steep'd amid honey'd morphine, my windpipe throttled in fakes of death,
At length let up again to feel the puzzle of puzzles,
And that we call Being.
Tim hosts a program called The Swap Shop on WCRL Classic Hits 95.3 in Oneonta, a radio station that serves Blount County. The Swap Shop is like an old school craigslist. People call in, say, "I found a puppy," or "I've got a washing machine to sell or I do plumbing. I have blackberries for sale. This is my phone number. Call me."
I thought it would be fun for this video to layer in conversations Tim has with callers alongside footage from some other Whitman, Alabama shoots. Some of the moments come from videos we have already published and some from videos that are coming down the road.
There's a lot of texture in all these calls: in people's voices, in the sound quality of the type of phone line they're using, the parts of the lives they're needing or wanting to sell, or the skills they're offering. It's a cool micro-portrait of a community. I think Tim saw connections between what he does and what this project aspires to do. He opens the phone lines and mediates conversation between people, their needs and interests. He is part of creating a space where connections can happen.
We gave Tim this particular passage and he read it, live, during The Swap Shop, one take. I'm sure it confused a lot of people that were listening in that day. Tim's been doing radio for forty years, and he took the reading very seriously. He had a lot of questions about what our project was looking for. He was really concerned about delivering what we wanted. We wanted him to just be him.
Tim said that as he was reading the verse, he was also trying to pay attention to what Whitman would have wanted – in terms of changing his voice to articulate the meaning – higher pitch, lower pitch. Paying attention to the images, the color, the flavor, and the meaning of the words.
And, Tim said, he was thinking about his listeners. He wanted to read in a meaningful, thoughtful way. He wanted the words to be clear and understandable and his focus on air to be razor sharp. Just like when he's doing The Swap Shop.
Tim said, "I feel very fortunate. Some people in radio and media think they're cool. I just want to be caring of the people I serve." I think a lot of people were well served that day.
By filmmaker Jennifer Crandall, as told to writer Liz Hildreth