Music for Words, with Words

There’s someone in Sheffield who thinks he’s The Only Michael. He might be the only one who matters, and I certainly won’t contest that claim, though there are probably a billion of us who would say he’s not the only Michael—talk about overused names.

I discovered his postings on, probably via Mark Goodwin‘s group Air to Hear, about a year ago, when I first began to write for this blog, and have had it in mind to spread the word. (Now that I look back on his page, Music for Words, I find that I’ve favorited almost all his tracks. Beautiful work.) These are collaborations with poets.…I think I had it in mind to do a large article on poet/musician collaborations.

That was then, and I may or may not be able to follow up on those impulses.

He’s now doing something I find much more exciting: a radio program of music and poetry and interviews all on the subject of combining music and literature: Music for Words on Basic.FM.

I awoke to this:

(August 10, 2013. I’ve just noticed that Michael is not keeping his broadcasts on for long. Sorry. You’ll just need to check in with the other links. Again, here’s his page link.)

These are Michael’s stated goals:

“Music For Words with The Only Michael, is a monthly exploration of the recorded word and past and present collaborations between poets, story writers, musicians and composers.

“From the familiar to the strange, the missing link to the cutting edge, Music For Words showcases the many ways that speech and music can enhance and inspire each other to make something new, entertaining and compelling.”

I’m hoping he’s not inflexible in needing to present collaborations. There are some of us who are doing all of it, sound and word. (Actually, it’s possible he’s already strayed from that premise: I think Mark Goodwin’s piece is entirely self-produced.)

I also hope this first program isn’t too indicative of the tone of work he’ll be showcasing. It’s excellent. But it puts to mind why rock and roll sounded so exciting all those decades ago. I would like to hear something a little more open wound, a bit rougher around the edges. What I’ve been hearing, just on, runs from the pompous to the genteel to the timid to the mythical to the gutter or the totally common and familiar, as happens with both poetry and our own lives. I would like to hear a wider range of poetic voices introduced to this broadcast.

That having been said, all the work I’ve found on Music for Words at and everything in this broadcast keeps the poet’s voice at the forefront so you’re not struggling to hear what was said. Michael Harding himself has an excellent sense of combining his music with the writer’s words, complimenting and drawing out the emotive content.

The other suggestion I would make is that there be more notes to each broadcast when it’s posted on, such as clearly stating who the artists are and any links or purchasing information.

Michael, I await your next broadcast.

Categories: About art, Here and now | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

About swampmessiah

Real name, Michael Myshack. I was born in 1957 (pre-Sputnik), graduated high school in 1975, and then slowly began coming to life. I am self-taught in the arts as well as most other things: drawing and babbling since a very early age; started painting seriously in 1975; began writing shortly thereafter, but began writing in earnest circa 1977 (beginning with poetry); first started recording poems and music and other sounds in 1996. Other than an individual showing of drawings at the Tweed Museum at the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1983 and being an instigator and participant of a group exhibit of drawing at the Duluth Art Institute in 1985, I have no professional or academic pedigree. In other words, I have a day job. I've been with someone since 1985. Our children were born in 1991 and 1996.

One thought on “Music for Words, with Words

  1. Hey! Thank you for writing about someone, and projects, I was otherwise completely unaware of. Although I hesitate to hand out gold stars for giving me something else to do with my time. 🙂

    Interesting that his request for tolerance of teething problems would come in the part that was repeated. Brought a smile. Not a smirk, a smile.

    Hadn’t heard that Ivor Cutler piece in a long, long time. Lovely. It’s all Ivor – harmonium was his primary instrument. First I heard him was on Robert Wyatt’s “Rock Bottom” in ’74. Hearing this tonight, I had to play the Wyatt album straight away.

    Cheers, Michael!

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