Back to Irish Music!!! Shannon Heaton Unwound My Circle

Shannon Heaton. Not just a brilliant mind. :)

Let's get back to music today. Specifically, Shannon Heaton's Irish Music Stories podcast. For the last several years, Irish flute player and composer Shannon Heaton has been collecting stories from Irish musicians and historians, spinning them together into a podcast that covers Irish traditional music from just about every angle. Today, instead of thinking about the same old three things, I spent some time with Shannon on my headphones. So glad I did.

Check out the current episode, in which our heroine Sue Lindsay is interviewed alongside some heavy hitters in Irish music about the use of some odd instruments in a storied folk tradition that can be, at times, er.... on the stodgy side. In this episode, Shannon explores Darth Vader and Irish traditional music at the fringes—more specifically, the advent of some of the "newer" instruments: the harp, the banjo, and even... gasp!... the saxophone. She weaves insightful interviews, musical history, race, Irish music, real life, and the perilous journey of parenting while creating. There is even potty humor to tickle both your cockles and your mussels. My inner seven-year-old boy rejoices. Besides: What else ya gonna do on a rainy summer day? Feed your tortoise or something? 

PS: I do NOT have a solar powered dancing Yoda, but I would. Shannon, thank you for including our interview in this episode!


Ellen Lubin-Sherman writes about "The Third Paragraph." In short, she says that most of the time, we can delete the first three paragraphs of everything we write, because the good stuff usually starts at paragraph 4. I find that to be true, over and over. Below, a special little gift to the writers and others out there interested in creative process. This is the original introduction before I deleted it all. Three paragraphs of irrelevant but mildly entertaining trash: 

As humans, our brains get stuck in circles. We spend days going around and around, thinking about the same things. Monkeys. Dog Walks and Little Green Bags. Racial Injustice. Teaching Music. Politics. Not Writing About Tortoises. (Did you know that the most common house-pet tortoise breed lives for FIFTY YEARS???? If you feed it, that is. Ahem.)  Some days, somehow, the circle unwinds. Without realizing it, we're at the final loop-de-loop (for now), so we wave our arms and scream, and then we're whizzing off to the next whiplash curve. 

Today, for me, it was Shannon Heaton's Irish Music Stories podcast. For 45 minutes, the mental cart clicked upward in delicious suspense and I was sent reeling off to the next adventure on the rollercoaster. (Ok, ok, enough of that metaphor. Look, even daily writers O.D. on the tropeage sometimes. No, tropeage is not a word. Just because we can does not mean we should.

We've reached paragraph 3! Exactly where every bad essay should start.