Icarus - Patricia Barber

In: music
"In my version, [he] doesn't crash. He just keeps flying up until you can't see him anymore. I grafted the Nina Simone story onto the Icarus story and dedicated the song to her. It starts with Daedalus, Icarus's father, crafting the wings. The second verse is about Nina at the Midtown club outside of Philadelphia in her chiffon dress. They both know that only by taking a big risk will you ever fly."
Patricia Barber, Mythologies (Blue Note, 2006)

Icarus (for Nina Simone)

Icarus (for Nina Simone)

Intent, a wooden lattice is placed
feathers are waxed and laced
reeds are stockpiled, patiently cast
and curved, each longer than the last
it is a perfect design, a boldfaced
attempt to fly

Back off the boardwalk, at the Midtown
dressed in chiffon, dressed in her best gown
an angel black as the color of her hair
begins to sing and play and dare
to form a perfect design, a boldfaced
attempt to fly

falling out of the middle
the air begins to thin
from light into darkness
into the light again

gravity conspiring
with the forces of drag
so nose up and farewell
to those who lag

and who didn't blow the whistle
took calculated risks
who didn't push the river
who didn't use their fists
who didn't go to great lengths
nor to great heights
you're up in the air now


Moonshine drunk, you're smug as the Sun
larger than life, baby You're the One!
with wings, rising over the wall
falling out of the middle, away from us all
it was a perfect design
a boldfaced attempt to fly