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Sunday Soul – The Princess of Ulster

Year 11 – Playlist 38/52 – Art, Essay and music for the week of January 4th 2015

Ugainy the Great was not just the ruler of Ireland, but he was also supposed to have presided over the better part of Western Europe in his time. He married a Gaulish (French) princess named Kesair and they had two sons, Laery and Covac. When Ugainy passed into the mists his first born son inherited the kingdom. But as you might expect Covac wasn’t delighted, but he was driven mad with jealousy. So he killed his brother and stole the throne and became the King of Ireland by pretending to be dead and leaping up at the last minute and slaying his own brother. I’m so grossed out by this kind of a wuss. A.) the guy can’t accept his own role in his own kingdom – no, he’s gotta be the big shot – and B.) he didn’t even really “win” the throne – He pulled the total chicken-shit maneuver and tricked his cowardly way into power. Sore losers are really the worst aren’t they?

The only thing I appreciate less than a sore loser is a sore winner. Personally I think that when you win, you have more of a responsibility to others than before. It’s not time to put on your silly crown and squat down dancing like a chicken and telling everyone to suck it. Nope. When you win it’s time to turn your attention to those whom you have bested, and to those whom you now are responsible for and open your heart, your services, and to proceed to serve them. But let’s face it, most people are selfish pricks, and so they’re also bad winners. Covac was no exception. The guy was a freak. He actually got all jealous of his second cousin Maon, killed his grandfather and his father and – close your eyes – fed the kid a piece of their hearts and a pregnant mouse – ok, open your eyes. Poor Maon was so totally freaked out by this crazy-ass King that he lost the ability to speak. Covac liked this a lot, obviously because it rewarded his sadistic nature, and made him feel pretty powerful. But Maon really wasn’t ok. He was seriously screwed up by this. Normally this wouldn’t matter and crappy king like Covac might have just dumped Maon off in a cell somewhere to rot, but he was dearly beloved by Moriath, the Princess of Ulster. Since Moriath was beloved and totally bonkers for Maon it turned out that Covac actually realized he was going to get into some heavy trouble if Moriath ever found out about what he’d done to her beloved. So Covac sent Maon off to live in Gaul. It made sense because Gaul was the home of Maon’s great grandmother Kesair, and so the king shipped this traumatized mute relative off to live in France and to be raised by his relatives as an unimportant aristocrat and that, Covac hoped, was going to be that.

I suspect that Covac was less afraid of Ulster, considering his empire extended well across Europe at the time, but more likely that the sadist King probably had hopes of winning the Princess of Ulster’s heart for himself. It’s consistent with his otherwise totally shitty behavior and malformed need to have everything for himself and often leaving absolutely nothing for anyone else. In a way this Covac was fairly modern don’t you think? Anyway these plans proved to be impossible. Maon’s absence only broke Moriath’s heart. Her love for him grew and grew. She would lock herself up in her castle and write all kinds of Emily Dickinson about him. Finally she couldn’t stand it, and so she called up the King’s harpist and asked him to write some music for a love letter she’d written to Maon. He agreed and it was beautiful. So the Princess of Ulster paid the harpist handsomely to sail to Gaul and sing this song to Maon and beg him to come home and help her right the wrong which had been done to the Kingdom of Ireland.

Well it totally worked. The harpist played the song for Maon and he was so moved that he regained his speech. You see what I didn’t tell you about Maon was that he returned Moriath’s love. So he hired an army and sailed back to Ireland and kicked the crap out of Covac, married the Princess of Ulster and lived happily ever after. Well, happily ever after apart from his ears.

Something I forgot to tell you about Maon was that he has hideously long ears. They looked like donkey ears. Maon was super self conscious about his ears and kept his hair quite long so that no one would ever see them. You could call him a vain and neurotic little prince, but considering all the poor guy had been through I think that would be kind of harsh and unfair. But get this, after he became King he had this nasty tradition of executing his barber. Back in those days people only bathed once a year. That’s actually why the tradition of marriage is always in the spring. We married after our annual baths. It’s true. Look it up. I’ll wait here while you check that out. Let me know when you’re back.

So each year when the King bathed, he had to get his hair cut. That’s kind of a likely story, right? I think it’s more likely that the whole family were bonkers and Maon, while beloved and more all around together than his second cousin Covac, still carried the family madness. So he straight up popped a cap in the ass of his barber after his annual hair cut because he didn’t want anyone in the Kingdom to know that he had donkey ears. This actually went on for a while and there was a growing pile of barbers behind the castle when one year, after the lottery was held and the barber was selected, the barber’s mother begged the King for mercy. She stood for her son, and swore he was a good boy and promised he would never say a single word of what happened during the hair cut if he spared his life and sent him home to them. The king was cool about it, and agreed. He didn’t like killing his barbers any more than he liked his donkey ears.

So the haircut went well, and the barber was allowed to live. He returned to his village and family. In time the secret of the king’s donkey ears began to weight heavy on his heart and he grew sick. He finally got so feeble and weak that his family sent for a priest. The priest tried to get the barber to confess, but he wouldn’t. So the priest instructed the boy to go out into the forest alone, find a tree that he felt he could trust, and then cut a hole in the tree, whisper his secret to the hole, and then cover it with mud. The barber did what the priest advised and he regained his health quickly. This actually began a brief, but popular tradition for those with secrets to make their way into the forests and whisper their secrets to the trees.

A while later King Maon’s harpist was out walking in the forest in search of a fine tree to cut down and make into a new harp for the King’s birthday. Wouldn’t you know it, but the harpist came upon the very same tree that the barber had whispered his secret into. The harpist cut down the tree and fashioned it into the most beautiful harp the kingdom had ever seen. And when the king’s birthday arrived the harpist presented King Maon with the beautiful harp and sat down to play it for him. You can see why this would happen, right? Maon was called back to Ireland by this man, and he gained his crown because of this man, so it was a really touching birthday present and everyone expected a beautiful song of triumph and love. But what happened was that the moment the harpist touched the first string of the harp the barber’s secret which had been locked up inside of it for years came out. So the harpist plucked the strings, but everyone in the court heard “The king has donkey ears!”

To King Maon’s credit, instead of totally going completely balistic and shooting up the room so that no one could get out alive and tell his secret, he simply took off his crown and pulled back his hair and laughed and laughed at himself. What could he do? It was absolutely true.

They say we are as sick as our secrets, and I believe that’s true. What we hold back becomes us, and eats us alive. Human beings are built to laugh, and love, fight and heckle, make love and dance, and sing, and speak, and live our lives as robustly and beautifully as we possibly can. The power of restraint is such a backward and inside out energy that very often the twisted and the uptight don’t even know what their secrets are. You can usually tell the cruelly suppressed by the way they are pointing their sticks and throwing their stones at others. To be truly alive is to reflect and meditate upon ourselves, and to lovingly and openly share what we find there. Socrates apologized by saying that “the unexamined life is not worth living” and I’m down with the man and his thinking.

So what are you holding back from this party? What secret are you unable or unwilling to admit? Rather than die the thousand deaths of humiliation and pain in some ill fated or unexpected game of truth or dare one day, take the advice of the Princess of Ulster. Journey to the forest – follow the narrow path of neutrality as it unwinds between the mountains of pride and the endless seas of self-pity until you find a tree that you recognize. Cut a hole into her trunk and leave your burden there. Cover the hole with mud so that secret cannot escape, and also so that the tree might recover from her wounds. Then come home to us. We will meet you here with the love and devotion that only lovers like us who have made a life out of pulling these veils from our eyes and lifting these burdens from our hearts whenever and wherever we find them in the way of love.

Thank you for listening. See you next week.

Here is the track listing for Sunday Soul: The Princess of Ulster

1. Keepin’ Out of Mischeif Now – Tommy Dorsey
2. Yumeji’s Theme – Shigeru Umebayashi
3. Love Is The Answer – Aloe Blacc
4. Got To Get It – Trockensaft Remix – Tim Hanmann
5. Ballet Du Saboteur – Masterchris feat. Sunshine Jones
6. Can’t Shake Your Love – Instrumental – Syreeta
7. Love Will Save the Day – Whitney Houston
8. DISCO WILL NEVER DIE – Last Days of Disco
9. Quizas, Quizas, Quizas – Nat King Cole
10. Reflections – Brattig & Soloma
11. Temptress – Cucumbers
12. Play My Dub – Kon Remix – Caserta Mixdown – Twilight
13. Some Other Time – Live at ORTF, Paris – Bill Evans Trio
14. Sunday Soul – Program ID
15. Caribbean Queen – Extended Version – Billy Ocean
16. Sunday Soul – Program ID

Year 11 – Playlist 38|52
4 January 2015
Total Running Time: 01 Hours 12 Minutes

Buy this music if you love it. Buy it on vinyl. Play it loud. I am curating something personal for the people I love who take the time to listen. If you have feelings and would like to be stricken from the record here, please let me know and I’d be glad to never play your music here again. I’ve been mad about love before, and I totally understand.

May the stars above you shimmer and shine, guiding your heart always, all of the time. May they guide you sweetly, all the way home. And may all your sundays have soul.