Oyster Boy Review 10  
  January 1999
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» Levee 67


Live at the Green Door

C. C. Russell

Live at the Green Door.
John Lane, Greg Olson, Thomas Rain Crowe, & Nan Watkins.
Fern Hill Records, 1994.
$7.95 (audio cassette).

In his introduction, Thomas Rain Crowe says that the purpose of this project is to be "[p]oetry accompanied by music, not music accompanied by poetry," therefore setting up an unnecessary distinction. Throughout the recording, music and words inhabit the same landscape and never overtake the other. The writers in this collection blend into each other, their voices close yet individual at the same time. Everything here is nearly seamless, even though the recording is a live performance.

The overall theme seems to be anti-technology, back to nature, and although this theme can be done to death if it isn't done well, they manage to pull it off without cliche (though I will admit there are points where the poetry runs a little dry of creativity, this is short lived and never bogs down the recording as a whole). There is a newness to many of the works that is difficult to create when writing on themes of nature versus the technological world.

Probably my favorite work of the collection is "Against Information," a series of poems by John Lane and Greg Olson. The collaboration here never falls apart (though I have trouble deciding, in this piece as well as others, whether the almost ambient electronica as a background is suited to them or if it is verging on the hypocritical for those speaking out against satellite dishes and the Internet) and has language a bit more forceful than the rest of the cassette. This sets the tone for the entire reading, but as the rest of the pieces slow down, it may have been better placed towards the end as a climax of sorts.

This argument may be proven moot by Thomas Rain Crowe towards the end of the reading when he says, "Slow down. / Slow down." Perhaps what they were looking for was not a climax at all, but rather a soft spoken plea for everyone to follow the course of the reading, for everyone to just slow down and remember life as it was when we were talking rather than emailing, and maybe a time before that, when the spoken word was the only word that existed.