Nichols Collection 0005

Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork
A Song Cycle on Poems by Richard Brautigan
Gene Nichols. Text by Richard Brautigan
Stereo audio tape, with score
Performed by Gene Nichols with the Neoteric Ensemble
April 17, 1981
Northern Illinois University
Music © 1980-1981 Gene Nichols, text © 1971 Richard Brautigan
Collection of Gene Nichols
The second half of 1981's April 17 program was given over to these interpretations of Brautigan's 1971 poem collection Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork. Each segment is a separate poem, with its own instrumentation and score. (In what I take to be the spirit of the work, though, I have made each Flash player a separate instance; so, if you like, you can play all the poems at once.—daa)
Please contact us with more information about this work or the performance itself. Notes and commentary can be inserted along with each file below.

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Prologue: Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork
4' 19"

Dedication 1: for Diane Ragains

Dedication 2: for Diane Ragains, Joe Pinzarrone + the Neoteric boys

November 1980

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Two Guys Get Out of a Car
0' 47"

Things begin to look a little looser...

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Homage to Charles Atlas
1' 19"

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1' 09"

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Montana Inventory
1' 32"

Things become looser still...

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We Meet, We Try, Nothing Happens, But

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As Mechanical as a Flight of Stairs
1' 26"

A brief return to conventional notation...

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I'll Affect You Slowly
1' 20"

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They are Really Having Fun
6' 06"

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What Happened?
1' 44"

...followed by "Hot wailing"...

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Punitive Ghosts Like Steam-Driven Tennis Courts
3' 44"

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Crow Maiden
3' 10"

The score flirts with orthogonality, then segues to something a bit more episodic and instructive: "Some instrumentalists apply light, fast 'karate chops' to the vocalist's back during this passage."

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Nine Crows: Two Out of Sequence
1' 26"

Coffee (or something) has its way with the score.

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0' 42"

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Voluntary Quicksand
0' 34"

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Death Like a Needle
1' 19"

(There's something about this work that wants to stay a secret. The published poem includes the comment, "...[I can't make the next two words out. I first wrote this poem in longhand]..." which Gene transcribes in the score, along with stage directions. This sheet [page 23] came to me with a folded-back top right-hand corner. It had clearly been fed into the copier that way, as the print runs right up to the bent edge. The page number is missing. Of the twenty six pages of score, this sheet is the only one that misfed in the scanner. It survived, not without a struggle.—daa)

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We Were the Eleven O'Clock News
3' 09"

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Epilogue: The Curve of Forgotten Things
2' 54"

The final note: "November 25-26, 1980; rearranged Spring, 1981 DeKalb, Illinois"