I finally performed at the Open Mic at Dagny’s. As predicted, I was not the best, nor was I the worst. Well, maybe I was the worst, but I certainly wasn’t the best. But I promised myself that I would at least get up there and play a song or two, and that if I could do it, that would be a success. I wish I had sounded better, but that should give me incentive to woodshed and strive to do better next time. I am going to keep doing it. I don’t have nearly as many butterflies in my stomach when I am playing my saxophone in an orchestra or a band, or even when I am reading my poetry at the Poetry Open Mic that also takes place at Dagny’s. I guess it’s because of the singing, playing guitar, keeping the beat. Doing all that at the same time — but mostly I guess it is singing. No mask to hide behind, no instrument. You are the instrument, and how can you tell the dancer from the dance? The fear, though, is strangely exhilarating.
I am going to keep going. If I try to keep it inside, to suppress the urge, well it will just come out anyway, in the worst possible way, and at the worst possible time:
“Have you met my demon? His name is Israfel.”
Angel, demon, fallen angel, Hell’s Angel, Heaven’s Devil. An Egrigore made up of all the yearnings and ambitions of any would-be rock star who ever strapped on a guitar in some garage band and cranked his amp to 11 and dreamed he was Elvis, a Beatle, Dylan, Hank Williams, Jagger, Bowie, or Keith Richards.
In some ways my demon is like Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl doing “Don’t Rain On My Parade.” Or like the diva on Glee channelling Barbra Streisand, auditioning for the part in a Broadway revival.
Though I am considering a cover of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” for a future performance, I have made a deal with my demon, that I will take it out for a walk from time to time, even if I keep it on a short leash.
Here is a poem by Edgar Allan Poe that further describes my demon, and I am thinking of setting it to music. Maybe I’ll play it for you sometime.
And the angel Israfel, whose heart-strings are a lute, and who has the sweetest voice of all God’s creatures.
In Heaven a spirit doth dwell
“Whose heart-strings are a lute”;
None sing so wildly well
As the angel Israfel,
And the giddy stars (so legends tell),
Ceasing their hymns, attend the spell
Of his voice, all mute.
In her highest noon,
The enamoured moon
Blushes with love,
While, to listen, the red levin
(With the rapid Pleiads, even,
Which were seven,)
Pauses in Heaven.
And they say (the starry choir
And the other listening things)
That Israfeli’s fire
Is owing to that lyre
By which he sits and sings—
The trembling living wire
Of those unusual strings.
But the skies that angel trod,
Where deep thoughts are a duty,
Where Love’s a grown-up God,
Where the Houri glances are
Imbued with all the beauty
Which we worship in a star.
Therefore, thou art not wrong,
Israfeli, who despisest
An unimpassioned song;
To thee the laurels belong,
Best bard, because the wisest!
Merrily live, and long!
The ecstasies above
With thy burning measures suit—
Thy grief, thy joy, thy hate, thy love,
With the fervour of thy lute—
Well may the stars be mute!
Yes, Heaven is thine; but this
Is a world of sweets and sours;
Our flowers are merely—flowers,
And the shadow of thy perfect bliss
Is the sunshine of ours.
If I could dwell
Hath dwelt, and he where I,
He might not sing so wildly well
A mortal melody,
While a bolder note than this might swell
From my lyre within the sky.
~ Edgar Allan Poe
Israfil (Arabic: إِسْـرَافِـيْـل, translit. Isrāfīl, alternate spellings: Israfel, Esrafil) is the angel who blows into the trumpet before Armageddon and sometimes is depicted as the angel of music. Though unnamed in the Quran, he is one of the four Islamic archangels, the others being long with Mikhail, Jibrail and Azrael. It is believed that Israfil will blow the trumpet from a holy rock in Jerusalem to announce the Day of Resurrection. He is commonly thought as the counterpart of the Judeo-Christian archangel Raphael.
Israfil appears in cabbalistic lore as well as 19th-century Occultism. He was referenced in the title of Aleister Crowley’s Liber Israfel, formerly Liber Anubis, a ritual which in its original form was written and utilized by members of the Golden Dawn. This is a ritual designed to invoke the Egyptian god, Thoth, the deity of wisdom, writing, and magic who figures large in the Hermetica attributed to Hermes Trismegistus upon which modern practitioners of Alchemy and Ceremonial Magic draw.