Severance Songs

by Robert Gomez

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about

The album Severance Songs is my interpretation of five selections from Pulitzer-Prize winning author Robert Olen Butler’s 2006 book, Severance. The collection of sixty-two prose poems, from which I’ve chosen five, represent the final thoughts from the severed heads of fictional and non-fictional characters, presented as a dense unpunctuated outburst of memory and reflection, revealing what each character holds dear as well as the missteps that haunt them.

Each selection consists of 240 words. A number Butler arrives upon by two important epigraphs that preface the poems:

"After careful study and due deliberation it is my opinion the head remains conscious for one minute and a half after decapitation".--Dr. Dassy D'Estaing, 1883

"In a heightened state of emotion, we speak at the rate of 160 words"--Dr. Emily Reasoner, A Scourcebook of Speech, 1975

Although not familiar with the work of Butler when I discovered this book it was only after a few times through Severance that I decided to make it my musical focus for what would become the next year and a half. Adapting a poem to song was all very new to me and as a result took me to interesting places especially in regards to form, melodic arc and phrasing. This project also took me to Florida where I would get to spend time with the author in his home , marvel at his collection of hot sauces and hold his Pulitzer Prize in my hand.

In honor of Robert Olen Butler’s Severance poetry, this statement is exactly 240 words.

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released November 6, 2012

Words by Robert Olen Butler

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Robert Gomez Seattle, Washington

www.kickstarter.com/projects/robertgomez/work-untitled

Robert Gomez is a songwriter, multi- instrumentalist musician from Seattle, WA. Besides writing and performing his own music he has performed both live and on recordings with numerous other artists including Sarah Jaffe, John Grant, Centro-matic, Baptist Generals, Norah Jones, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, and Tico da Costa/ Phillip Glass. ... more

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Track Name: CHARLES H. STUART Texas farmer, beheaded by his two teenage daughters, 1904
Words by Robert Olen Butler
Track Name: CHICKEN Americauna pullet, beheaded in Alabama for Sunday dinner, 1958
Words by Robert Olen Butler
Track Name: ROBERT KORNBLUTH Senior partner in advertising firm, decapitated by elevator, 1984
Words by Robert Olen Butler