Elegy for Mimi Parker

Mimi Parker playing drums and singing

Alan warns us of a landslide, his voice calm and clean above the foreboding churn of the guitars. We know that something is building, something dark and heavy that will catch us all up and sweep us along in the swath of its destruction. We could not outrun it if we wanted to but no one in this room would dream of trying. Soon enough the premonition is realized, the churn swelling to a wave that crashes down upon us suddenly with punishing fury. The lights go mad, brutal energy crackling through the room as Alan lets it all out. The guitars roil and thunder as Mimi pounds out a soul-shaking judgment against all of us assembled. We quake and tremble and bash our heads against nothingness, accepting as one the verdict of their unsparing landslide. 

And then, just as the maelstrom reaches its peak and the room teeters on the brink of chaos, Mimi has mercy. The storm breaks, though its aftershocks still reverberate. The guitars stay their assault as Mimi brings them under her power. She continues to pound – no, not pound now, but strike. Her strike is slow and firm and impossibly steady. We all fall under her sway, holding our collective breath as she strikes again and again, the pause between each blow seeming so long, yet each beat landing with a regularity that would feel mechanical were there not so much palpable passion behind it. The rhythm is slow, controlled, precise, the antithesis of the popular image of the drum as the domain of wild-eyed madmen and dionysian imbibers. The fury of Alan’s landslide skitters along the periphery but is held at bay by Mimi’s absolute mastery of the moment. She does not punish the drum nor does she let it dominate her or the stage. The drum is Mimi and Mimi is the drum. They are in concert and we are all the fortunate witnesses to their union. 

And then Mimi lifts her voice. It resonates through the room, so crowded yet so silent, no soul daring to break the spell being woven over us. Her voice rises and falls in a wordless chorus, ethereal, angelic, eternal. She calms the chaos she helped to birth, the room wrapt in her song of no meaning and all meaning. It is the same voice that taught us to two-step around the room, to save our little bodies in metal, to just make it stop. But we never want it to stop. We give ourselves over to that perfect, soaring voice as it blends with the never-wavering beat of Mimi’s drum. We never want it to stop. We wish that it could never stop. We pray that it will never stop. 

And then it stops.

But the beat of Mimi’s drum goes on, slow and steady and never ever out of time. It holds back the landslide and crushes us in its warming embrace and all we can do is hold on fast hold on fast hold on slow. The drum goes on. Mimi is the drum. The drum is Mimi. The drum goes on. Mimi goes on. The drum goes on.

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