The Barber, the Baker, and the Open Space Maker

by Nathan Bird

It was a beautiful blue sky day. The afternoon sun was getting tired. The air was rich with the scent of life as the roses in the rose garden at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum declared their Maker’s praise.

I was probably 10, and I thought it would be a good idea to stop and smell the roses because that’s the line that I’d heard all the grown-ups say…so I did.  Every. Single. Rose.  I learned that sometimes bugs like to hide inside the flowers, and if said bugs happen to fly up your nose, incredible discomfort, and usually a crazy-dance, ensues.  I also learned that not all roses smell lovely.  Some roses have a scent that’s more akin to a thorn than a swirl of lovely velvet petals.  As a blooming hopeless romantic, I knew there was something to this saying, but also found it odd.  What does it really mean?

aaron-burden-20304-unsplashThe song of this week is “The Daisies,” written by the American composer Samuel Barber (1910-1981) when he was just 17.  The text is by Irish writer James Stephens (1880-1950).  Barber set Stephens’ poem using incredible lyricism indicative of the trademark style that he’d be known for in his compositions later in life.  I love the simple elegance of this poem.  Its lean narrative evokes young love and the rapture of nature.  When you ask friends about how they met, their memories are FULL of the smallest details. In Stephens’ poem, that small detail is the daisies.

This is an excerpt from last Saturday’s publication of SongNotes from the Birds.  It goes on to discuss a really great exercise for singers, and what in the world resonance has to do with caring about your friends. Baked goods are involved.  Read the full thing here.

img_20190421_120443958-1Want to read more next week?   May’s theme is all about flowers and nature. We will send out recordings of the songs to our subscribers at the end of the month.  Click here for more about SongNotes.

Want to know what we sound like?   To listen to our previous recordings, click here.

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photo credit: Aaron Burden via

One last time, you can read the full thing here.