Monday I was honored to deliver the keynote address for the 2007 Kemp Symposium here at the University of Mary Washington. The event is named for Bill Kemp, a Shakespearean who taught at UMW for over 30 years, and it showcases work done by students in English, Linguistics, and Speech courses.
A few notes about the talk. I wanted to do something unusual. I wanted to honor Bill, a colleague with whom I’ve had many fruitful collaborations over the years. I wanted to thank my department for their support. I wanted to speak some word of hope to us all at the end of a difficult few weeks. And I wanted to do all of that by exploring the connections between lyric poetry and popular music.
I structured the talk around six audio events, the last of which included video. Four of these are recordings under copyright, so for the podcast I’ve included only beginnings and endings, and hereby claim fair use. One of the recordings is my beloved English teacher Dr. Elizabeth Phillips reciting “What Are Years,” and I’ve included that in full. I hope that the snippets convey the flavor of the talk. I also hope they send you out to buy Tommy (The Who), Rain Dogs (Tom Waits), Hejira (Joni Mitchell), Welcome Interstate Managers (Fountains of Wayne), and The Last Waltz right away, if you don’t have these albums already.