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Helpless Angels weaves several themes together: music’s impact on a life, expressed through memory; poems that are like songs; music found in or described through nature; poems that directly consider music’s power; and, as a counterpoint to how music carries us through life, how art — and each of us — deals with significant loss: the death of a loved one. Helpless Angels looks at a long-term development — the ubiquitousness of widespread personal access to music performed by others that began in the 1950s and has continued to expand ever since. The collection explores via the medium closest to music, poetry, and a number of the delightful or at least positive dimensions to this enormous change in the fabric of people’s everyday lives. All people have incorporated music into their lives individually as well as socially as when they gather for celebrations like weddings, birthdays, and church service or when they gather at funerals, or to send off soldiers to war. There is little that music doesn’t touch. In the written arts, poetry, of course, has long been the source for song and its intricate structures have been the layman’s access to the complexities of rhythm and meter. The connections between poetry and music run deep and offer engaging opportunities for readers. Wayman’s Helpless Angels also reminds us that many of us are from the generations that have been able to listen, anyplace and anytime, to our own choice of music performed by others. Thus, we are the first human beings who have been continually surrounded by music made by others all our lives. How this change has impacted us is a major focus of this book.
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